Software is available to provide on-the-spot crime scene processing information for law enforcement officers in the field. The Forensic and Crime Scene Tool Set (FACTS) offers immediate on-the-scene access to detailed, critical information that guides officers responsible for maintaining integrity of evidence collected at the scene. It can help novice officers and serve as a refresher for experienced investigators.
The software was developed through the Small, Rural, Tribal and Border Regional Center (SRTB), which is part of the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center (NLECTC) system, with assistance from the Forensic Technologies Center of Excellence. NLECTC is a program of the Office of Justice Programs’ National Institute of Justice. The program is divided into three modules:
Managing and Searching the Scene
Provides an overview of overall responsibilities and how to manage and approach the search of a crime scene, from the initial call to releasing the scene.
Documenting the Scene
Lists the documentation required to ensure evidence will hold up in court (e.g., notes, sketches, videography).
Provides a guide on how to collect specific types of evidence, (e.g., accelerants, body fluids), each of which have their own protocols, including packaging and storing.
In each module, the user can choose from various topics. For example, topics under Managing and Searching the Scene include secure and protect the scene, manage witnesses, manage the media, and collect and secure evidence.
“Especially for agencies that don’t have crime scene teams, it provides expertise on the computer right there, where they can find out how to collect evidence, properly document it and properly store it,” says Danny Ball, a program manager for the center. The software also has an authoring tool that allows agencies to customize it to fit their particular needs.
Agencies can add, modify and maintain up-to-date protocols according to specific agency policies and procedures.
The FACTS software is for use with Windows® XP or 2000 and can be installed in a mobile computer in an officer’s car. Developers are testing it on later versions of Windows. The free software can be obtained on either CD or DVD from the center or downloaded from http://www.ruletc.org/index.php?option=com_phocadownload&view=
“Years ago we would carry three of four notebooks to use for crime scene processing,” notes Scott Barker, SRTB center director. “This program replaces all those binders. It goes on a laptop and the officer can punch up
the specific type of evidence and the software will take him step-by-step on how to process and package it.”
Barker says the software is in beta form and available for agencies to use and provide comment. Modifications might be made to the software before its final release, but agencies can use it now.