Guide for the Preparation of Test Impressions from Footwear and Tires


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1. Scope

    1.1  This Guide provides procedures for the preparation of test impressions from footwear and tires.

    1.2  The particular procedures and methods employed in a given case will depend on the examination needs.

    1.3  This Guide may not cover all aspects of unusual or uncommon conditions.

    1.4  This Guide does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this Guide to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.

    1.5  This Guide is not intended as a substitute for training in the preparation of footwear and tire track test impressions. Completion of a training program and experience in these skills are essential to understanding and applying the principles outlined in this Guide.

2. Terminology


3. Significance and Use

    3.1  The procedures outlined here are grounded in the generally accepted body of knowledge and experience for preparing footwear and tire test impressions.

    3.2  Test impressions are used in conjunction with the known shoe or tire for comparison with the questioned impression.

4. Interferences

    4.1  Footwear and tire evidence may have inherent limitations that can interfere with the procedures in this Guide. Limitations, when known, should be noted and recorded.

    4.2  Limitations can be due to substrate features, the method of collection, and the inability to accurately reproduce conditions under which the questioned impression was made.

    Note: The inability to produce test impressions using the exact conditions under which the crime scene impressions were made does not necessarily interfere with the ability to compare the shoe or tire with those impressions.

5. Equipment and Requirements

    5.1  Photographic equipment

    5.2  Test impression materials

    5.3  BIO-FOAM® and casting materials

6. Procedures

    Prior to making test impressions, the examiner should recognize and preserve other relevant physical evidence, document, and photograph the original condition of shoe outsoles and tires, when appropriate.

    6.1  Footwear test impressions

      Footwear test impressions should record fine detail with good contrast and be suitable for use in the comparison process.

      Initial test impressions should be made of the entire shoe.

      Excess dirt should be removed from the shoe with care so as not to damage the outsole before test impressions are made.

      Prior to wearing the shoe in any of the methods, consider contamination issues.

      Some methods are as follows:

      6.1.1  Roller transport film and fingerprint powder

        Apply a heavy coat of fingerprint powder to the outsole of the footwear.

        Remove any excess powder by gently tapping the shoe.

        Moisten one side of a sheet of roller transport film of sufficient size.

        Remove excess water with a squeegee. Make an impression, while wearing the shoe, by stepping onto the roller film. Allow the impression and film to dry.

      6.1.2  Clear adhesive and fingerprint powder

        Apply a heavy coat of fingerprint powder to the outsole of the footwear.

        Remove any excess powder by gently tapping the shoe.

        Remove protective cover from adhesive sheet.

        Lay adhesive side up on the surface where the impression will be made.

        Make an impression, while wearing the shoe, by stepping onto the adhesive film.

        If necessary, press the adhesive against the shoe sole to obtain a complete recording of the outsole.

        Note: As an alternative method, if not wearing the shoe, the adhesive film can be pressed against the shoe outsole.

        Cover the impression with a protective sheet.

      6.1.3  Identicator® or other inkless methods

        Make an impression by pressing the shoe onto the inkpad and then onto the treated paper.

      6.1.4  Silicone spray, wipes, or other suitable substances and magnetic fingerprint powder

        Coat the outsole of the shoe with the selected substance.

        Make an impression on the chosen surface. Develop the resulting impression with magnetic fingerprint powder.

      6.1.5  BIO-FOAM® and dental stone

        Make an impression in BIO-FOAM®.

        Use the resulting impression for comparison to three-dimensional impressions.

        The BIO-FOAM® impression can be filled with dental stone for comparison to submitted casts

      6.1.6  Silicone materials such as Mikrosil, polyvinylsiloxane, Zetalabor

        Apply selected silicone product to the outsole of the shoe.

        Remove silicone from the shoe when cured.

        Note: Other methods may be used.
    6.2  Tire test impressions

      Test impressions should record the full and continuous circumference of a tire.

      Test impressions should be made with the tire mounted on a vehicle.

      Excess dirt should be carefully removed from the tire before test impressions are made.

      Methods for making tire impressions should record fine detail with good contrast and be suitable for use in the comparison process.

      Record the tire brand, make, size, DOT number, and other relevant information.

      Some methods are as follows:

      6.2.1  Printer's ink with clear film

        Prepare two pieces of chart board, each of sufficient length to record a full rotation of the tire.

        Apply printer's ink to one piece of chart board.

        Cut, position, and tape clear film on the second piece of chart board.

        Roll the vehicle so that the tire travels over the inked chart board and then onto the clear film.

        Mark the film with relevant information regarding tire, position, and direction of travel.

        Allow the inked impression to dry.

      6.2.2  Printer's ink with chart board

        Repeat 6.2.1, substituting chart board for the clear film, so that the inked impression will be produced on the chart board.

      6.2.3  Petroleum jelly or silicone wipes on clear film with magnetic fingerprint powder

        Apply a light coat of the chosen substance to the tire surface.

        Roll the vehicle over chart board which has been covered with clear film to transfer the tire impression to the clear film.

        Mark the film with relevant information regarding the tire, position, and direction of travel.

        Develop the impression with magnetic fingerprint powder.

        Remove excess powder from the film. Spray the impression with acrylic spray to fix the powdered impression to the film or cover the powdered impression with clear adhesive film.

      6.2.4  Petroleum jelly or silicone wipes on chart board with magnetic fingerprint powder

        Repeat 6.2.3, substituting chart board for the clear film, so that the impression will be produced on the chart board.

        Note: Other methods may be used.

    6.3  Test impressions for elimination can include photography of the shoe outsole or tire tread, any of the methods listed in 6.1 or 6.2, or any other method suitable for recording the design detail.

7. Report

    7.1  Procedures utilized and impressions made should be labeled and documented and may also appear in a report.

8. Bibliography

    Abbott, J. R. Footwear Evidence; Charles C. Thomas: Springfield, IL, 1964.

    Bodziak, W. J. Footwear Impression Evidence, 2nd ed.; CRC Press: Boca Raton, FL, 2000.

    Bodziak, W. J. Some Methods for Taking Two-Dimensional Comparison Standards of Tires. J. For. Ident 1996 46 (6), 689.

    Cassidy, M. J. Footwear Identification; Public Relations Branch of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police: 1980. (Reprinted by Lightning Powder Company, Inc. 1995.)

    IAI Recommended Course of Study for Footwear & Tire Track Examiners; International Assoc. Identification: Mendota Htgs., M N, 1995.

    McDonald, P. Tire Imprint Evidence; CRC Press: Boca Raton, FL, 1992.

    Nause, L. Forensic Tire Impression Identification; Canadian Police Research Centre: Ottawa, ON, Canada, 2001.

    Petraco, N.; Resau, R.; Harris, H. A Rapid Method for the Preparation of Transparent Footwear Test Prints. J. For. Sci 1982 27 (4), 935-937.


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