This post will explore forensic technology and how it is used to assist investigators in their cases. To understand what forensic technology is, first, we must understand the basic definition of forensic science. According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, forensic science is “the use of scientific methods or expertise to investigate crimes or examine evidence that might be presented in a court of law. Forensic science comprises various disciplines, from fingerprint and DNA analysis to anthropology and wildlife forensics.”
Modern forensic technology includes laser ablation, alternate light photography, high-speed ballistic photography, 3D forensic facial reconstruction, DNA amplification, and superglue fuming, to name a few. The two areas we will focus on are: DNA amplification and superglue fuming.
Most forensic technology is used in labs (versus the field); we see this with equipment such as the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) workstations used to amplify DNA and RNA…but what does this mean in layman’s terms? DNA amplification simply means the multiplication (the repeated copying) of DNA strands, making it easier for scientists to study that particular segment. The role of PCR Workstations is to keep any background contamination away from the DNA that might skew the results. These workstations can be used for activities such as media plate preparation, plant tissue cultures, assembly of electronic devices, or even mycology (the study of fungi). Not only are these workstations used in medical and environmental studies, but they assist law enforcement in identifying perpetrators or victims involved in a crime scene investigation.
Another important piece of forensic technology is Advanced Cyanoacrylate Fuming Chambers (aka superglue fuming), which aids in automated latent print development. These chambers assist investigators in making latent prints visible on non-porous items such as soda cans, bikes, guns, knives, or anything that might have the suspect’s (or even a victim’s) prints on it. These chambers allow law enforcement to fume evidence with dependable results.
Technology such as those listed above is not only highly effective in identifying perpetrators of crimes, but it gives identities back to missing persons, catastrophe victims, and living or deceased unidentified persons. These technologies give victims back their names, but they also provide us with forensic evidence admissible in court. This means evidence that is upheld in court and can be considered by a jury or judge in deciding a case.
In 2021 the FBI’s National Crime Information Center reported 521,705 missing person records. 485,082 of those records eventually closed. But as of December 21st, 2021: 93,718 cases were still opened. Let that number sink in. 93,718 missing person cases are still not solved. That is an overwhelming number felt by loved ones, police, and even the public.
Statistics go on to say that unidentified people aka “John and Jane Doe’s,” were censused at 8,415. Unidentified persons include.”
1.) Deceased: Bodies found that cannot be identified. (64%)
2.) Living: People with a condition such as amnesia and can’t remember who they are or are infants (35%)
3.) Catastrophe Victims: Victims of natural disasters such as hurricanes or earthquakes (1%)
Identifying the victims of crimes is just as important as identifying the offender, whether that be victims of foul play, amnesia, or victims of natural disasters. Many cases can go cold, which means there are no more leads or evidence to follow. However, when new evidence does surface, it is beyond important to family members and police that the evidence is properly stored and adequately examined. It is also crucial that previous evidence from years or even decades prior is contained correctly and examined accordingly if law enforcement needs to compare DNA samples.
One way to ensure that proper protocols are being followed and that your facility is getting accurate results is by having the correct equipment already in your lab. Not sure if you do or not sure if this applies to your business? Check out our frequently asked questions page. Still don’t have the answer you’re looking for? Fill out a contact form today, and a team member will reach out to answer any questions that you may have.