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The primary purpose of the crime lab is to employ investigative techniques utilized in the recognition, collection, preservation, and analysis of physical evidence. Students who complete lab classes in the CRIM department, will get some insight into what it’s like to properly collect and interpret evidence, and then to present that evidence in court. The classes that utilize the criminalistics laboratory are designed to stimulate student interest and develop capabilities for law enforcement services.
With the existing technology that we have in the crime lab, students can successfully perform ballistic analysis (e.g., comparisons of bullet striations, firing pin comparisons, etc.), collect latent prints on various surfaces, collect and analyze trace evidence, glass analysis, blood spatter analysis, crime scene documentation, just to name a few.
- Ballistics analysis: The crime lab is well-equipped with tens of thousands of dollars worth of new up-to-date technology. We have six comparison microscopes with digital capabilities. Five of them are ballistics microscopes used for ballistics analysis; one is used for hair/fiber analysis. Additionally, the lab is equipped with fifteen compound microscopes that are typically used for trace analysis.
- Fingerprint preservation, classification, and identification: The crime lab is fully equipped with the proper equipments for collecting and analyzing latent fingerprints. This segment of the crime lab focuses on collecting latent fingerprints using physical and chemical developers. The crime lab utilizes a variety of physical developers (e.g., regular magnetic and non-magnetic volcanic powders, as well as fluorescent magnetic and volcanic powders) for developing latent prints on non-porous surfaces as well as chemical developers (e.g., iodine, DFO, ninhydrin, silver nitrate, Hungarian red, acid yellow 7, amido black, etc.) for porous and (e.g., cyanoacrylate, small particle reagent, etc.) mixed surfaces. In addition to various methods of collecting and preserving latent prints, in the crime lab, students learn classification and identification of fingerprint patterns.
- Trace evidence: Besides the fifteen compound microscopes, the crime lab is equipped with the Alternate Light Source (MCS-400 crimescope), 24 crime scene uv (455nm) flashlights, and several shortwave uv laboratory edition flashlights. Using MSC-400, students learn how to search and identify a variety of trace evidence, including body fluids, identify body bruises, bite marks, fingerprints, other hidden evidence, etc.
- Forensic photography: This includes equipments necessary for crime scene documentation. The crime lab is equipped with eleven digital cameras and crime scene documentation accessories (e.g., macro focusing rails for macro photography of psychical evidence, crime scene markers and crime scene tape, various types of forensic scales, special camera filters, tripods, etc.) that students use to practice and learn the techniques of properly documenting various crime scenes. The lab has the necessary equipments for preparing students, as future crime scene investigators (CSI), to record visual and legal evidence at the scene of a crime. In the crime lab, students learn to use specialized low-light photographing techniques such as ultraviolet and infrared photography, fluorescence photography, painting with light, and timed exposure photography; all of which are commonly used techniques in law enforcement investigations.
- Polygraph equipments: What makes the crime lab at ISU unique is the new state of the art law enforcement version polygraph machine. Our crime lab is perhaps one of the very few university labs that have an advanced polygraph machine. We have added this instrument to the lab two semesters ago.