Tommy Garrason, senior crime scene technician for the Pt. Pierce (Florida) Police Department, discusses the utility of using tactical vests compatibility in CSI work. This veteran of more than 100 homicide investigations recognizes the usefulness of these vests in forensic investigations. Indeed, he says one could prepare pockets for specific needs (photo, latent prints, blood lift, trace collection, etc.) ahead of time and if necessary, swap pockets for specific responses. He supports the idea of having a vest prepped for response so that when the phone rings an investigator merely throws on the vest and is ready to work.
Investigators may want to consider the color of these vests, however. Police work has traditionally identified with tactical black — but for a crime scene investigator this may not be the best choice. First, black is hot — and a CSI may spend long periods under the sun or in a structure with no air conditioning. Second, black becomes a huge, sightless pit. The availability of colors such as khaki and coyote may be both cooler and more practical.
Det. Mark Weaver, a relative newcomer to the CSI field, has been with Florida's Martin County Sheriff's Office Forensic Science Unit for approximately a year. In that time, his experience has lead him to appreciate the ability to tote basic investigation tools. He says responding to a burglary or theft at a remote site is made easier by a vest carrying an assortment of common crime scene collection tools.
Born of battle and improved for tactical law enforcement, vest systems have become valuable tools that provide the criminalistics community with a labor-saving device. Whether dedicated to a specific need and use, set up as a general response system or rigged to incorporate crime scene tools, hydration bladders, and basic law enforcement items such as handguns, the modern tactical vest — using the militarily proven MOLLE system — provides investigators a platform that may be individualized to meet the specific needs of each investigator.
Paul Laska retired from a 29-year career in law enforcement. He may be contacted through his Web site at www.PaulRLaskaForensicConsulting.com