Indispensable Crime Scene Tools: Latent Print Powders and Brushes

Commonly known as “dusting,” the act of applying fingerprint powder to a surface with a natural hair or fiber brush allows the powder to be lightly spread over a surface to make the print visible. With so many different color and material configurations, it is important to understand the features and benefits of each type of fingerprint powder.

Even with advances in fingerprint technology and analytical tools, fingerprint powders remain a critical tool in every crime scene and latent print examiner’s kit. Black powder is the original and popular powder of choice, but many other colors and types of powders are available for technicians to use in lifting prints from a wide variety of surfaces.

As any crime scene investigator knows, maintaining a well-stocked "toolbox" to efficiently process crime scenes is an essential part of the job. Latex gloves, a flashlight, magnifying glass, sealable evidence bags, a casting kit, fingerprint kits, and crime-scene tape are just a few of the necessary basics.

As the go-to tool for crime scene investigators, fingerprint powder is used to assist in the detection and collection of latent prints left behind at crime scenes. Available in a variety of colors and material configurations specifically manufactured for various investigative needs, early versions of powders were often handmade by latent print examiners or police crime scene technicians. In the early 1900s, commercially available powders began to hit the market; however, one drawback being that powders came in cannisters that proved hard to keep uncontaminated for reuse.

Forensics Source’s Lightning Powder® brand was the first to bring single-use powders and brushes to the crime-scene market.

Lightning Powder® Latent Print Powder Paks offer 2 ounces of various black and colored powders in convenient resealable bags. These easy-to-use packs afford the technician the benefit of dosing out smaller amounts of powder into empty containers, thus saving the remainder from cross-contamination. By only utilizing this method of separation, contamination from biological and environmental materials is virtually eliminated. Each jar of Lightning Powder can then be taken back the to the facility and thoroughly cleaned for future use.

Lightning Powder’s single-use brush, the Breeze™, is the smaller cousin to the popular Zephyr® Brush and is made of the same high-quality ultra-soft fibers. The Breeze is individually sealed and sterilized via ultraviolet light and ethylene oxide exposures in a one-time use package.

For technicians that encounter drug laboratory scenes, offers disposable Powder Packs containing .5 oz of latent powder in a hermetically sealed plastic container. These specialized packs work perfectly when scene management dictates that all incoming equipment must be left behind to prevent contamination outside of the perimeter. Coupled with the Breeze or Tex Magnetic Wand,these products will deliver what is needed when it is needed. Find these great products and everything you need for precise crime scene fingerprinting on the all-new

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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.