Giving Sex Crimes Investigators The Tools They Need
In an effort to facilitate the investigation of sexual assault cases, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has developed special kits for sex crimes detectives in conjunction with the Rape Treatment Center of Santa Monica.
The center’s director, Gail Abarbanel, has long advocated the use of DNA evidence to snag sex offenders. The new kits were unveiled in April and cost $1,800 each, containing 50 objects including a blue light source for identifying body fluids and a digital camera to help gather DNA from as many sources as possible. The kit also helps collect human hairs and fingerprints. To prevent contamination of the evidence, the kit has goggles, biohazard bags, disposable gowns, masks, and gloves.
“Forensic photography is powerful and persuasive in court,” observes Abarbanel, and a way to make the crime appear “more real.”
These kits also offer a more standardized method to gathering evidence, says Michele Kestler, assistant commanding officer of the LAPD’s Scientific Investigation Division. Previously, the detectives had to rely on self-made kits or wait until criminalists arrived on the scene. Police executives say such a process would take several hours, during which time evidence could be altered or a victim could decide not to pursue the case.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the Los Angeles Times (04/30/04) P. B2; Blankstein, Andrew .