A perfect storm.

DATABASES ARE COOL. I really cannot believe I just wrote that, because dealing with databases that do not work right is the bane of my existence. But the databases that do work right, and that allow law-enforcement professionals like you to get bad guys off the streets or provide closure to the families of victims… Now, those databases are cool.

And every day, it seems, new technologies emerge that compile, sort, search, and track data. Just in this issue of Evidence Technology Magazine, for example, you will find several examples:

  • There is an item in News from the Field (see Page 6) discussing a new technology that allows you to do an image-based search for tattoos.
  • In another News from the Field item (see Page 7), we provide an update on the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs)—which ties together a national missing persons database with a national unidentified persons database to help investigators, medical examiners, and citizens put names to the thousands of unidentified bodies that are lying in the offices of medical examiners and coroners across the United States.
  • In a feature article on how to set up computer-forensics triage procedures (see Page 10), the authors describe different search technologies that allow you to quickly assess the contents of a digital device and determine if it has any evidentiary value.
  • And in an article on investigating cold cases (see Page 24), the author walks the readers through a number of databases that make it possible to track down long-lost individuals by their aliases, known family members, Social Security numbers, death records, birth records, court records, and more.

All of these searches are possible because of three primary reasons: 1) the initiation of the Information Age has allowed individuals, organizations, and governments to communicate at lightning-fast speeds; 2) computer speed and power have continued to grow exponentially; and 3) individuals, organizations, and governments have put in the time, initiative, and dollars necessary to bring together disparate compilations of data.

As these three factors continue to come together at a dizzying pace, law enforcement will find itself at the center of a perfect storm—one that puts critical details about criminals just a mouse-click away from investigators. Criminal-investigation and identification technology has never been so powerful, and the future seems to only be limited by experts’ interest, initiative, and imagination.

Kristi Mayo, editor
Evidence Technology Magazine

"A Perfect Storm," written by Kristi Mayo
March-April 2010 (Volume 8, Number 2)
Evidence Technology Magazine
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Recovering Latent Fingerprints from Cadavers

IN A HOMICIDE CASE, the recovery of latent impressions from a body is just one more step that should be taken in the process of completing a thorough search. This article is directed at crime-scene technicians and the supervisors who support and direct evidence-recovery operations both in the field and in the controlled settings of the medical examiner’s office or the morgue under the coroner’s direction.