Police Officer Preparation & Law Enforcement Resource - Archive
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07-14-08, 09:36 PM
If I was to get a small fingerprint kit for my duty bag what would be the best type? I didn't realize there are all different kinds of powders. I guess I basically would want the kind I can do the most with for the least cost...just for those situations were I need prints and the detectives can't make it out in time for whatever reason.
07-14-08, 11:03 PM
Basically your budget is your limit ;)
IMHO, as a 17 year Crime Scene/Ev. Tech. I would recommend to the Cop on the beat that he procure a basic kit, which consists of a decent brush, some black powder, some latent print backing cards and some 2" tape. A very good flashlight is a necessity for fingerprint locating and lifting, day or night.
Once you get those, you should get with one of your Crime Scene people for a few minutes for some helpful hints and tips and techniques, as well as the way each card should be documented for examination and trial. If you are lucky, you will find a guy who will realize that you are an asset and can help him in the long run.
See if the Crime Scene guy can help you out in your resupply, too... and he may be able to float you a few extras if you are serious enough, such as some Bi powder and some hinged lifters.
The key to finding and lifting good latents is patience and common sense.
There is also some helpful video available at some dealers that is fairly inexpensive. I think I still have my own pirated copy of a latent tips tape that I could probably upload to somewhere pending I locate it (its lost in my Office right now) and convert it.
Lifting Latents isn't Rocket Science. :cool:
Here are some of the vendors that I've dealt with in the past.
I don't know where you are, but the last Company on this list is a fantastic company to work with... and I am not profiting from any endorsement;):
BTW, I've been waiting for 4 years for someone to ask that question... :D
07-14-08, 11:23 PM
Thanks a lot for the thorough answer.
07-14-08, 11:46 PM
In my experience, You can go cheap and buy your own cheap plastic box to keep your kit in, or you can spend the little extra $ that a good box will cost to make sure your equipment stays dry and in one place rather than all over your gear bag.
Don't go with a camelhair brush. These brushes are too heavy and can very easily damage the detail you are trying to collect. OTOH, a feather brush needs to be more than a literal "feather", which I've seen, too.
Along the lines of brushes, its not a bad idea to have a few... particularly if you accidentally get moisture or condensation on one while its being used. You can't fingerprint with conventional powders in the wet.
If you see a kit that you like, don't hesitate to call them and ask them if they will customise one for you, ie, a kit with 1 1/2" tape and you really want 2", but you could do without a cutting device (what cop doesn't carry a pocketknife?).
Going back to the box a minute, be aware that at some point you will spill a little powder... and you'd rather keep that powder inside of a good box than a leaking one, because as you will see, a little LFP (latent fingerprint powder) will get into everything.
You should practice lifting prints from various surfaces, so you know what to expect and where to expect to get results at... which is where your work supplier can help you out with freebies as you learn. Your powder will last a long time... unless you dump it... but the lifters/tape/backing cards are the real consumable items.
I have some practical tips for you if you are interested after you get verified. ;)
07-15-08, 06:49 PM
Yeah I gotta start the verification process. What are the differences between all the types of powders?
07-15-08, 07:07 PM
Some are supposedly safer than others, some for use with Forensic Light Sources (viewing thru a filter) some are easier to photograph (which according to some policies is supposed to be done prior to the print being lifted) some work on different surfaces (ie, "wetprint" or "SPR"(Small Particle Reagent), some are quite frankly useless. :o
The two powders I used consistently were black and a bi-surface, sometimes called "Bi-Chromatic" which was a kind of grey.
BTW, if you look hard, you should be able to find a wide mouthed jar. Those are really nice to work out of... but you never dip your brush in the jar, you will over-charge the brush. Always pour some powder into the lid and work from there.