Forensics Round-Up

July 16, 2013

Use AFIS? The NIJ needs your help.

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) needs state and local law enforcement agencies that own an automated fingerprint identification system (AFIS) to respond to a survey assessing the current state of latent fingerprint interoperability. By identifying successes and barriers, results will provide baseline input for analysis and improvement of interoperability over time. NIJ developed the survey in cooperation with the AFIS Interoperability Task Force, which was part of the Subcommittee on Forensic Science that serves the Committee on Science and the National Science and Technology Council. The survey contains questions concerning AFIS product information, AFIS funding (acquisition, upgrades and maintenance), enrollment capabilities, repositories (finger, palm and latent), latent print-related staffing, search capacities, official agreements for searching, and search methods and capabilities from different perspectives, such as state to state and local to state.

The Sensor, Surveillances, and Biometrics Center of Excellence is conducting the survey on behalf of NIJ.

To participate, please contact Mark Persinger at (304) 254-2334 or by email at [email protected].

Contact the NIJ through Mark Greene, (202) 307-3384, [email protected].

Test the drug, not the user

Touch&Know is the first non-biological drug testing kit offered by a U.S. retailer,” explains Identa Corp.’s CEO Yaacov Shoham. “Touch&Know safely tests the substance, as opposed to the person, and provides immediate results. It is a fully non-invasive method.”

The company has partnered with, making IDenta’s detector kits available to all consumers.

ID a bruise: accidental trauma vs. child abuse

Through the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has made available a technical report on a technology tool to help differentiate accidental trauma from child abuse. This report is the result of an NIJ-funded project, but was not published by the U.S. Department of Justice.

“Development of a Surrogate Bruising Detection System to Describe Bruising Patterns Associated with Common Childhood Falls” (pdf, 66 pages), Gina Bertocci, Ph.D., P.E., University of Louisville; Raymond Dsouza, M.S., University of Louisville. Authors’ abstracted, edited and excerpted:

…The research goal was to design and develop a prototype surrogate bruising detection device having the capability to predict potential bruising patterns in children, when adapted to a test dummy used to simulate common household fall events often stated as false scenarios in child abuse. The project included development of a “sensing skin” that can be adapted to a commercial test dummy representing a 12-month-old child, along with a data acquisition system and software capable of displaying sensor output and location on a 3D representation of a human surrogate.

Download the report.

Here’s your handbook on handling biological evidence

“‘The Biological Evidence Preservation Handbook: Best Practices for Evidence Handlers,’ created by the Technical Working Group on Biological Evidence Preservation, offers guidance for individuals involved in the collection, examination, tracking, packaging, storing and disposition of biological evidence. This may include crime scene technicians, law enforcement officers, healthcare professionals, forensic scientists, forensic laboratory managers, evidence supervisors, property managers, storage facility personnel, lawyers, testifying experts, court staff members, and anyone else who may come in contact with biological evidence. While many of the recommendations relate to the physical storage, preservation, and tracking of evidence at the storage facility, this handbook also covers the transfer of the material between the storage facility and other locations, and discusses how the evidence should be handled at these other locations.”

-- The National Institute of Standards and Technology, Download the full handbook PDF.

Palm vein technology

Fulcrum Biometrics announced the availability of their FbF Palm Vein Developer Bundle. This suite, which includes the award-winning Fujitsu PalmSecure sensor, FbF Palm Vein bioServer, FbF Listener, and FbF Biometric Controls, reduces the cost and complexity of integrating and deploying the latest palm vein technology into biometric identification projects. Palm vein imaging technology provides a high degree of accuracy, requires no touch contact and is virtually impossible to forge. While it can be deployed in a wide range of applications, the combination of high security and contactless identification make it particularly ideal for banking applications, hospitals, clinics, schools and use in public places where hygiene is of great concern.

No more clean getaways!

Applied DNA Sciences Inc. entered into a 2-way exclusive agreement with SmokeCloak, A/S to market a technology combining APDN’s SigNature DNA in a rapid-deployment security smoke called DNA Fog.

The SmokeCloak anti-intruder device deploys in a crime attempt, filling a room with a fog—sometimes called a security smoke—that virtually immobilizes criminals, and now also will mark a criminal with APDN’s SigNature DNA so it may be used to forensically link the criminal to the crime. The DNA Fog product will be used in the SmokeCloak VALI product range and can be combined with APDN’s existing SmartDNA anti-intruder device, currently used in Sweden and the United States. The combination of SmokeCloak’s room-filling smoke generators, together with APDN’s anti-intruder device which produces a targeted spray directed at the suspect, will give both companies a strong competitive edge in the crime deterrent market.

About SmokeCloak

SmokeCloak is a twenty-year-old company with an established dealer network on five continents, and installations in fifty countries. Security fog has become an established and successful product in Europe, South Africa, Australia and South America, and now is set to make its mark in North America.

Examine even the smallest of details

Sirchie’s new system for the examination, comparison, capture, annotation, and documentation of evidence: the new FOCOS2 - Dual Camera Forensic Optical Comparison/Examination System, consists of two 8 MP cameras with white, 455 nm blue, and 395 nm long-wave UV lights integrated and mounted on moveable arms to a base platform. Its proprietary software was designed in partnership with CSIpix to work in conjunction with a stylus-based screen monitor to make case documentation simple and easy.

This configuration gives users the ability to examine the minute details of evidence ranging from fingerprints, tool marks, bullet casings and trace evidence to footwear, tire marks, and other large pieces of evidence.

Facial Reconstruction from DNA

“Dewey-Hagborg’s odd habit has a larger purpose. The 30-year-old PhD student, studying electronic arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, extracts DNA from each piece of evidence she collects, focusing on specific genomic regions from her samples. She then sequences these regions and enters this data into a computer program, which churns out a model of the face of the person who left the hair, fingernail, cigarette or gum behind.”

Read more: “Creepy or Cool? Portraits Derived From the DNA in Hair Gum Found in Public Places

Safe system to help ID criminals further than arm’s length

A high velocity DNA tagging system that keeps criminals at arm’s length was launched by innovative U.K. security company Selectamark.

Identifying an individual in a crowd or at a distance can be challenging for law enforcement officers and police, especially when they are in riot situations or experiencing crowd control problems.

By using the SelectaDNA High Velocity System, a uniquely-coded DNA pellet can be used to mark an individual so that they can be apprehended at a less confrontational time for officers.

Available in pistol and rifle form, this new and practical concept allows police and military to remain at a safe distance (up to 30 to 40 meters) from a potential target while deploying the SelectaDNA High Velocity pellet. Both systems offer similar range and accuracy, with the real difference being the size, power source and ammunition capacity.

The pistol is powered by a 12g powerlet offering up to 20 shots per. The powerlets are single use and come ready to use.
SelectaDNA pellets are supplied in packs of 14 pellets to a container. All pellets in a pack contain the same unique DNA code. The pellets can be used in either the pistol or the rifle.

NEVER forget the mobile device—7 uses for data

“It’s rare these days that you’ll encounter a case where a mobile phone, GPS device or tablet isn’t relevant in some way. Therefore, it’s important to think about these seven potential uses for the data they contain:

  • Leads that can move a criminal investigation forward.
  • Proof that a crime was committed, or of criminal intent.
  • Elimination of a suspect as the person who committed the crime.
  • Independent evidence that can corroborate a confession, or affirm or disprove an alibi.
  • Links between crime scene and suspect, suspect and victim, or suspect/victim and witnesses.
  • Establishing the innocence of people not involved in the crime.
  • Reasonable suspicion or probable cause.

“From a legal standpoint, scrolling through a lost phone’s contents cannot be considered a ‘search’ because there is no expectation of privacy attached to abandoned property—at least, until evidence of a crime is located, at which point the search must stop and a search warrant obtained.

Either way, it is important to preserve the evidence. Don’t risk deleting personal data or evidence, or leaving an unshielded device powered on. This leaves it vulnerable to being remote-wiped, or having new data added.”

Sources: “Putting Mobile Device Evidence to Work”“Securing Compromised Mobile Device Evidence” 

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