Crime Scene Investigator Network

Crime Scene Investigator Network Newsletter

This month's newsletter is brought to you by the 2019 CSI Winter Academy

Potential Handheld Multispectral Camera
for Crime Scene Investigations

Noting the "huge practical advantage" of using an imaging device to quickly examine a crime scene for forensic evidence — particularly bloodstains and fingerprints — researchers at the New Jersey Institute of Technology developed a prototype handheld multispectral camera for potential future use by investigators.

There have been a number of efforts in forensic science to develop a relatively inexpensive device that could provide real-time multispectral imaging of crime scenes that would allow investigators to see latent evidence such as blood stains, ink stains, latent fingerprints, and tire prints. Earlier efforts have shown promise, but, according to researchers at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, the technical challenges of weight, cost, complexity, ruggedness, portability, and user friendliness have held the technology back.

The goal of these NIJ-supported researchers, led by physicist John Federici, was to develop a compact, lightweight camera capable of simultaneous imaging at both visible and near infrared wavelengths. The researchers developed the device utilizing multiple cameras linked to mini-computers and combined into one unit.

Although the miniaturization of off-the-shelf cameras and mini-computers didn’t progress as rapidly as the researchers had hoped, they did create a Dichroic camera that can see 16 spectral colors in the 400-1000 nanometer range, and they demonstrated "the utility of the camera system on latent blood stains and fingerprints." Multispectral images were acquired under various conditions for various surfaces, including dark cloth, leather, and paint.

A multispectral image captures data in the form of different wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum, including visible light, ultraviolet, and infrared. Multispectral imaging is designed to synthesize image data, allowing the user to view details that far exceed what can be seen by the human eye. This technology is commonly used in satellite imagery, health care, and military applications.

If bloodstains were deposited on lightly colored materials, such as a white or yellow T-shirt, the device could visualize the stain as blood through its "reflectivity spectra." If the bloodstains were deposited on a dark material, such as a black T-shirt, the blood and background spectra would be too similar to allow identification as blood. The multispectral camera could, however, serve as a "stain detector," the researchers said, alerting investigators to the presence of a stain.

In most cases, the camera was able to detect stains even if there had been attempts to remove them with cleaning agents. Although washing cloth in a household washing machine removed all evidence of stains (except on white fabrics), less aggressive forms of cleaning left sufficient residues of the stains that were detectable by the camera.

The attempts to locate and possibly identify latent fingerprints with the multispectral camera exhibited "some successes, some failures, and some inconclusive results," the researchers said. Although the resolution of monochrome cameras were good enough to allow the fingerprint images to be compared to computerized database of prints, the multispectral approach did not offer any advantages in contrast in this instance.

"Given the wide variety of background/substrate materials and the need to adjust the illumination conditions to obtain the best contrast," the researchers concluded, "multispectral imaging of fingerprints ... does not appear to be a promising technology for crime scene investigation."

They also noted that by modifying the camera to work in the 1600-2500 nm range, the device could "spectroscopically identify blood stains even on dark clothing." The issue for an infrared camera capable of that range, they noted, is one of cost and image format size. "The cost would be about 10 times as high as the current device," they said, "and the pixel size (or resolution) would be significantly less."

A next step, according to the researchers, would be to determine if a multispectral camera that can locate blood, semen, or other stains, would be useful enough to crime scene investigators to continue the efforts to create such a device.

About This Article

The research described in this article was funded by NIJ award 2014-DN-BX-K003 awarded to the New Jersey Institute of Technology. This article is based on the grantee report "Hand-Held Multispectral Camera for Crime Scene Investigation" (pdf, 13 pages) by John Federici.

< read the report "Hand-Held Multispectral Camera for Crime Scene Investigation" >

This research is part of a broader portfolio of impression and pattern evidence projects managed by NIJ physical scientist Danielle McLeod-Henning, Ph.D. Find more information on NIJ's impression and pattern evidence portfolio.

National Institute of Justice, Developing a Handheld Multispectral Camera for Crime Scene Investigations. October 16, 2018,
This Month's Featured Resource on the Crime Scene Investigator Network Website

This updated Crime Scene Investigation: A Guide to Law Enforcement is a revision of the original publication published in January 2000, and borrows heavily from that work. The resulting document includes detailed procedural guides for the complete range of crime scene investigation tasks — from securing the scene to submitting the evidence. This publication provides law enforcement professionals and first responders step-by-step guidance in this crucial first phase of the justice process.

<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 100 current listings!

To be notified of job openings as they are posted, follow us on Twitter: Job Posting Alerts
or sign up for daily email alerts: Daily Job Posting Alert Emails

Crime Scene Technician
Fort Walton Beach Police Department, Fort Walton Beach, Florida, USA

Final Filing Date: January 4, 2019
Performs non-sworn law enforcement work involving receiving, handling, recording, packaging, storing, transporting, maintaining, protecting, and disposing of all physical evidence for the Police Department. Work is performed under the general supervision of a Criminal Investigations Supervisor.
<View complete job listing>
Forensic Examiner I or II
Rapid City Police Department, Rapid City, South Dakota, USA

Final Filing Date: January 6, 2019
Responds to major crime scenes; collects and analyzes evidence; preserves and documents crime scene and evidence through photography, measuring and scale drawings; prepares written reports. Operates analytical equipment and instruments using standard technical and scientific methods to perform specialized forensic examination of evidence and prepares written reports.
<View complete job listing>
Crime Scene Specialist
Tucson Police Department, Tucson, Arizona, USA

Final Filing Date: January 13, 2019
Conducts forensic crime scene investigations. Documents crime scenes, physical injuries, victims, suspects, and evidence through the use of forensic photography and laser based mapping technology. Assesses, collects, packages and preserves evidence to include latent fingerprints, physical evidence, and biological evidence such as blood, hair, and bodily fluids. Safely contains all bio-hazardous materials for transport to evidence storage area. Photographs and obtains fingerprints at postmortem investigations. Records actions taken through the use of written reports. Provides expert courtroom testimony.
<View complete job listing>

Forensic Scientist I, II, III
Kansas Bureau of Investigation Forensic Science Laboratory, Topeka, Kansas, USA

Final Filing Date: January 4, 2019
You will be expected to perform qualitative/quantitative analysis of drug evidence, paraphernalia and pharmaceuticals using chemical, microscopic and instrumental identification techniques, you will write lab reports, testify in court as an expert witness, and perform general laboratory duties.
<View complete job listing>
Forensic Scientist Trainee - Controlled Substances
Virginia Department of Forensic Science, Manassas, Virginia, USA

Final Filing Date: November 25, 2018
The Virginia Department of Forensic Science is seeking an individual to train to perform forensic chemical analyses of suspected controlled substances. Once trained and qualified as a Forensic Scientist, duties of this position will include: Use current state-of-the-art methodologies and instrumentation to analyze controlled substances; Prepare Certificates of Analyses on findings for use by the criminal justice system; Testify in court as a qualified expert for the Commonwealth at criminal proceedings as to the results of laboratory findings and perform other duties assigned.
<View complete job listing>
Property and Evidence Technician
Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia, USA

Final Filing Date: January 18, 2019
Collects, processes and maintains the chain of custody for all evidence related to crimes. Responsible for collecting, inventory, processing, safeguarding, and presenting evidence, preparing reports, and other administrative duties.
<View complete job listing>

Search for more job listings in Crime Scene Investigations and Forensics
<Crime Scene Investigator Network Employment Listings>

To be notified of job openings as they are posted, follow us on Twitter: Job Posting Alerts
or sign up for daily email alerts: Daily Job Posting Alert Emails

Other Resources on the Crime Scene Investigator Network Website
Not Subscribed to this Newsletter?

If you are not subscribed to this newsletter, you may subscribe with this link: SUBSCRIBE via email
or on our website by clicking here: SUBSCRIBE on our website.

To Unsubscribe

To unsubscribe from future e-mail newsletters, please click here: UNSUBSCRIBE
or email with your request to unsubscribe.

Copyright ©2018 Crime Scene Resources, Inc.

Crime Scene Investigator Network
PO Box 1043
Wildomar, CA 92595-1043