Getting Technical: Police Get New Tools Of The Trade
The New Hampshire-based Londonderry Police Department recently opened a new $4.9 million headquarters and updated its arsenal of forensic technology. Officers now use electronically scanned fingerprints and the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System to check electronic fingerprints collected from suspects against the FBI’s 47 million fingerprints on file.
The database provides a match to a previous crime within hours and helps officers solve cold cases, such as rape and other crimes that lack a statute of limitations, according to Londonderry Lt. Scott Saunders.
Previously, police officers used a fish tank to contain Super Glue fumes to collect fingerprints, but new technology allows officers to dispense Super Glue fumes inside a crime scene; fumes settle on fingerprint oil and allow for dusting and lifting of the prints.
The new technology means evidence remains inside the crime scene whereas before officers would remove potential evidence to conduct analysis using the fish tank and potentially make it more difficult to prove chain of custody in court cases.
Officers also use fuming wands, which contain heater and fans to blow out Super Glue fumes, to reveal fingerprints on objects too large for the fuming machine, such as a counter top or other surface.
The new facility includes refrigerated evidence lockers to maintain quality of evidence, and collection of blood evidence at crime scenes is made easier by using a new machine that dries out blood and other bodily fluids collected at the scene.
Storing body fluids in plastic causes humidity changes that could damage the chemistry of the blood, and storing evidence in paper is dangerous because of health risks due to blood easily soaking through paper.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the Union Leader and New Hampshire Sunday News (10/26/04) P. B1; McGee, Hunter .