Crime Scene Investigator Network

Crime Scene Investigator Network Newsletter

JUNE 2018
This month's newsletter is brought to you by the 2018 CSI Summer Academy

Preservation Methods and the
Degradation of Dust Print Lifts

Marcy Hendricks

In this study, the author examined the different types of physical preservation methods for dust print lifts. Dust impressions were collected with Kinderprint's electrostatic dust print lifter and documented at one week intervals with examination quality photography. Results indicated that storing dust print lifts taped to the top of cardboard mailing boxes produced the least amount of degradation to the print. Further, examination quality photography is widely heralded as the only sure method to maintain the detail of a freshly lifted dust impression. Therefore, the results of this study also illustrated the damaging effects of short term storage on dust print lifts and therefore highlighted the importance of immediate photography upon collection of dust impressions.

By providing law enforcement and investigation agencies with a method in which to collect dust print impressions, the development of the electrostatic dust print lifter (ESDL) has significantly improved the ability to document and collect dust impression evidence during crime scene processing. In the field of crime scene investigation and footwear impression evidence, it is widely recognized that photography is the only certain method for preserving the detail of a electrostatic lifted dust impression.

Photographing dust print lifts immediately is especially important because they inherently degrade over time; one of the largest problems investigators have encountered with the use of the ESDL is the fragile nature of the dust print lift. Anything brushing against the impression could obscure the image or remove parts of it, which also remains a problem throughout the life of the print in storage. Further, the Mylar film used to collect the impression naturally attracts excess dust.

Despite the consensus that the most beneficial way to preserve the quality of dust print lifts for future examination purposes is immediate photography, there has been minimal research to suggest the best physical storage methods. Arrowhead Forensics recommends storing the dust print lift in an A-5031-F manila lift folder, as provided in their Arrowhead Stat-Lift Kit. Evident Crime Scene Products suggests using one of their film and cast boxes for preserving dust print lifts, which they sell separately. Recommendations from footwear impression evidence professionals include the use of folders and shallow boxes.

The Scientific Working Group for Shoeprint and Tire Tread Evidence (SWGTREAD) has published standards as a guide for lifting footwear impression evidence. They maintain that because electrostatic lifts retain a charge, packaging lifts in cardboard boxes or plastic bags should not be utilized. Instead, SWGTREAD recommends storing lifts in individual clean file folders. In sum, professional opinions vary on the physical storage methods for lifted prints, but there is a general agreement that dust print lifts should be photographed prior to storage and plastic containers should not be utilized.

In order to determine the best physical storage method for dust print lifts, a 35-day study was conducted using four storage methods: folders, boxes, mailing tubes, and polyethylene plastic envelopes.

Materials and Methods
Law enforcement agencies are known for employing unused pizza boxes and other cardboard containers to store dust print lifts, despite SWGTREAD's recommendation against the use of cardboard materials. Evident Crime Scene Products sells pre-sized boxes, but generic cardboard boxes serve the same purpose. Manila folders are also widely used as a storage method for dust print lifts and recommended by SWGTREAD and other footwear impression evidence and crime scene professionals. The folders should be of the quality of finished paper stock, like file folders, which can be purchased through Arrowhead Forensic Products or any office supply store.

Storage tubes are not generally used by law enforcement for shorter lifts (less than 12 in. long) because the rolling of the film inherently creates damage to the dust print lift. However, for the purposes of this study and because research is so lacking on this topic, storage tubes were used to prove or dispel their lack of preservation performance.

Although plastic generally attracts more dust than cardboard and is discouraged as a storage method, the poly envelopes used in this study were branded as anti-static.

< read the complete article and view example photographs >

*Article submitted by the author

This Month's Featured Resource on the Crime Scene Investigator Network Website

The principal purpose of this Guide is to provide an investigative outline of the tasks that should be considered at every explosion scene. They will ensure that proper procedures are used to locate, identify, collect, and preserve valuable evidence so that it can be examined to produce the most useful and effective information-best practices. This Guide was designed to apply to explosion and bombing scene investigations, from highly complex and visible cases, such as the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, to those that attract less attention and fewer resources but may be just as complex for the investigator.

<View the Publication>

New CSI and Forensic Job Announcements

The most comprehensive listing of Crime Scene Investigation and Forensic
employment opportunities on the internet! We typically have over 200 current listings!

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Forensic Analyst
Eugene Police Department, Eugene, Oregon, USA

Final Filing Date: June 29, 2018
Responds to crime scenes and autopsies, as they occur, to perform and/or oversee searching for, collecting, preserving, packaging and inventorying of evidence, including various body fluids, tool marks, ballistic evidence, and drug laboratory chemicals, weapons, clothing, trace evidence, footwear, tire impressions, latent prints, and other related materials.
<View complete job listing>
Crime Scene Specialist
Citrus County Sheriff's Office, Inverness, Florida, USA

Final Filing Date: Continuous
Investigate and process crimes scenes through observation, photography, documentation, fingerprint development, casting, or by other means as necessary; Develop, collect, transport, and secure evidence or other property from criminal cases adhering to chain of custody and control measures; Maintain records for proper storage and disposition of evidence; Testify in court related proceedings;
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Forensic Scientist II - Firearms
Minneapolis Police Department, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Final Filing Date: June 26, 2018
Handle, search, and evaluate the significance of physical evidence. Conduct necessary examinations and comparisons of physical evidence to include: firearms, bullets, cartridges, discharged cartridge casings and other related weapon components and ensure all findings are correctly documented.
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Broward County Office of Medical Examiner and Trauma Services, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA

Final Filing Date: Continuous
The purpose of this class within the organization is to analyze body fluids and tissues to identify and quantify drugs and toxins in the subject's system.
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Digital Forensic Analyst
Lincoln County District Attorney's Office, Newport, Oregon, USA

Final Filing Date: May 31, 2018
Conducts forensic analysis of computers and other digital/data storage devices such as smart phones, tablets, storage devices/drives, and cloud computing systems and applications.
<View complete job listing>
Fingerprint Technician
St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, St. Louis, Missouri, USA

Final Filing Date: Applications will be accepted until a sufficient number are received.
Classifies searches and compares fingerprints of arrested and potential suspect subjects or job applicants to determine if they have a criminal record and are who they purport to be. Uses state and national AFIS systems to establish prisoner's true identity. Uses MULES and REJIS name checks to assist in determining prisoner's true identity. Fingerprints unconscious or deceased subjects to establish identity.
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