Exploring Virtual Reality as a Forensic Tool

VIRTUAL REALITY (VR) OFFERS unparalleled capabilities to support and facilitate forensic activities. While VR and other related technologies—like augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR)—have been around for more than half a century, it is only in the last few years that the technology has shown the potential to go mainstream. VR is especially well suited for supporting use-cases where spatial information is critical, such as accidents and crime scene reconstruction. When used appropriately, this emerging technology will be able to easily leapfrog over current alternatives.

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Vehicle Forensics: A Rapidly Growing Source of Evidence

AUGUST 2017: IN THE EARLY HOURS of the morning, several individuals get into an altercation at a bar. The incident moves outside to the streets where an 18-year-old throws a bottle, damaging the side-view mirror of a red Ford Mustang belonging to one of the antagonists. The 18-year-old flees with a companion on a moped. Meanwhile, the Mustang owner, in a rage, pursues them at high speed, until moments later the Mustang crashes into the moped from behind, leaving one rider dead, another severely injured, and a homicide case for detectives to investigate.

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Building a Platform for CSI Learning Through Virtual Reality

CRIME BY THE FIVES is the next generation in crime scene investigation training, created to meet the evolving needs of law enforcement. The system integrates the ease and economics of virtual environment training with real-world laboratory instruction. By bringing together the expertise of forensic science faculty at Purdue University Northwest (PNW) and the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), along with state-of-the-art simulation design from the Center for Innovation through Visualization and Simulation (CIVS), our team has produced scalable education content suitable for all levels of users.

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Tool Kit: Microscopy Tools and Software

Here's six products to help with your lab's microscopy tasks.

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NIST Publishes Sequence-Based Gene Frequencies for Forensic DNA Markers

NIST HAS PUBLISHED STATISTICAL DATA that will pave the way for crime laboratories to use next generation sequencing (NGS) to create forensic DNA profiles. The data includes genetic sequences that occur at each of 27 genetic markers and estimates of how frequently each sequence occurs in the population. This research, which was jointly funded by NIST and the FBI, was published in Forensic Science International: Genetics.

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NamUs 2.0 Works to Resolve Cold Cases

ON ANY GIVEN DAY, more than 80,000 people are actively missing in the United States. Every night, tens of thousands of families sit down to their dinner tables and face an empty chair that should be occupied by a missing loved one. Those impacted by the disappearance of a family member face an agonizing wait for answers, sometimes for decades. The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs)—developed by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ)—offers powerful tools to solve cases and bring answers to those grieving families.

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Applying Bloodstain Pattern Analysis in the Crime Scene

COMPLETE ANALYSIS OF BLOODSTAIN PATTERNS requires specific training and experience. When presented with situations involving such evidence, specialists will typically be brought in to assist. A specialist, however, is not always available to come to the crime scene while processing is ongoing. As with all evidence the basic responsibility of a crime scene investigator (CSI) is to collect the evidence in a fashion sufficient that subsequent analysis can be accomplished. In terms of BPA, collection effectively entails photographic documentation and sampling. Therefore, at a minimum, the technician must recognize and properly document this evidence. General recognition of the various bloodstains also allows a general understanding of what was happening within the scene, which may aid in on-scene efforts. Though somewhat advanced, these evaluations are common in many violent crime scenes, and it is in the best interest of the crime scene technician to develop skills in BPA.

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Integrating Body-Worn Cameras with Existing Video Management Systems

BODY-WORN CAMERAS (BWC) HAVE BEEN PROVEN to help improve the safety of those in public-facing roles, while producing compelling legal evidence when needed. BWCs can provide twofold protection to staff: first, members of the public naturally change and moderate their behavior for the better when they realize they are being, or may be, recorded; but more importantly, those cameras can then be used, when needed, to alert colleagues to an incident, to obtain evidential-quality footage to secure convictions, or to uphold the account of staff in the event of a complaint or incident.

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Product News

Six interchangeable LED lamps

highlight the features of the OPTIMAX Multi-Lite Forensic Inspection Kit from Spectronics Corporation. This portable kit is designed for crime-scene investigation, gathering evidence, and work in the forensic laboratory. The LEDs provide six single-wavelength light sources, each useful for specific applications, from bodily fluids to fingerprints. The wavelengths are: UV-A (365 nm), blue (450 nm), green (525 nm), amber (590 nm), red (630 nm), and white light (400-700 nm). The cordless flashlight weighs only 15 oz. To learn more, go to: www.spectroline.com

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