How to buy forensic supplies
As with every other facet of law enforcement these days, departments are being called upon to do more — frequently much more — with less. With the current shortage of skilled law enforcement officers, further exacerbated by budget cuts and even layoffs, patrol officers are more likely to be called upon to perform crime scene processing previously handled by designated Investigators. Successful adaptation to such belt tightening measures and expanded duties hinges on providing the right tools to the right people.
Here are a few things to consider while adjusting to a new law enforcement reality.
1. Identify the need
How often does your jurisdiction utilize forensic equipment, and what kind? Is most of what you deal with relatively “simple” crime scenes, requiring primarily photos and print dusting, with the occasional casting? Are they frequently messy crime scenes, involving blood splatter, bodily fluids, DNA collection, round trajectories and the like?
2. Assess your inventory
With your identified need in mind, and your current inventory in hand, you can more accurately build or simply replenish your equipment needs.
3. Assess resources, both human and financial
Here are some questions to ask:
Then come decisions regarding the actual equipment, weighing cost and need:
There are a variety of suppliers of forensic equipment on the market, and probably every one of them offers “crime scene kits” of various sizes and costs. Such kits, depending on inventory, can range from under $50 to several thousand dollars.
While it’s certainly convenient to simply order a kit and toss it in the trunk of a cruiser, it may be much more feasible and cost effective to build your own, starting with a plastic tool box from your local big-box store. In answering all of the above, a conversation with an evidence technician at the State Lab can be extremely helpful in determining what works best, and what (cheaper) alternatives may be possible.
Do you have any other suggestions for officers purchasing and evaluating forensics products? Please leave a comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your feedback.
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