Lowndes Co. Sheriff’s Department gets CSI training on preserving fingerprints, other DNA evidence at crime scenes

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – Thursday, the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department underwent Crime Scene Investigation training, going over the various ways to preserve evidence at a crime scene.

“Each fingerprint is unique to that person,” says Lowndes County Sheriff Eddie Hawkins. “The same thing with DNA.”

And often it takes one of several unique processes to preserve those fingerprints.

“[To} collect fingerprints off of different items that’ve been left out in the rain or gotten wet, it takes a different technique,” Sheriff Hawkins says.

Investigators, detectives, deputies and patrol personnel all went through the course, which featured tried and true methods for preserving DNA evidence.

“[They learned] to use different chemicals, reagents, things of that nature, to preserve these prints and collect this evidence off of different items,” Sheriff Hawkins said.

Instructor Mark Bailey, the police chief at Jefferson State Community College in Alabama, says these techniques have been around for decades. He says the simple reason for that is, they work.

“If we have a firearm that’s been stolen and thrown outside on the side of the road for a little bit, just because it’s out, doesn’t mean we can’t get a print off of it,” Chief Bailey says.

Chief Bailey showed deputies how to rehydrate a fingerprint inside a refrigerator.

“We’re going to heat superglue and we’re also adding in steam to it, so we can rehydrate a print,” he explained. “And then the superglue is going to react with the amino acids in the print.”

And how to dust for prints using magnetic powder.

“Your more serious crimes, we can take this technique, and enhance our ability to cultivate new leads to close the cases,” Chief Bailey said.

That DNA evidence can also help those cases stand up in court.

“We can use this evidence in court to convict those suspects and violators,” Sheriff Hawkins says.

Chief Bailey also taught the investigators how to manufacture some of their own chemicals, a more cost-effective option that can be especially helpful to law enforcement agencies in rural areas.

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