The Fineness of Forensic Supplies

Surprisingly enough, it’s not just the Sherlock Holmes’ standard-bearers or criminology students that are stocking up on finger print powder and other forensic supplies. A great many everyday sleuths are doing just that, and they’re not even trying to compete with the authorities. While some are seeking out the equipment and technology to be able to experiment the goings-on transmitted over the tube nightly on multiple crime scene drama series, others have more pressing and real-life urgencies driving them on.

No one here, of course, if they’re being honest, can belittle TV’s inspirational powers; these are fathomless, that is beyond doubt. But that dearly beloved and so-called mother of invention, necessity, along with the fringe throng of practical matters it gives rise to, most usually has even these rousing powers beat down pat. Yes, for many it’s necessity that makes the loading up on forensic supplies seem like the first order of business.

But though forensic products are most easily categorized under a heading like “work materials,” their high-quality and fineness brings to mind the work products and equipment of all the visual and plastic arts. It is because of this inherent fineness that forensic products should be handled with exceptional care. Finger print powder, for instance, is made of incredibly fine particulates. Fittingly, in order to be used properly, it must be applied to the area being dusted for prints with an equally light touch. Rough handling can result in a poorly transferred print or in the damage of critical crime evidence. All things which must be avoided.

Crimescene supplies are necessary if one is to gather solid, but, physically fragile evidence like latent prints. These are mostly unnoticeable to a naked eye, and while some may be visible, they still must undergo development in a lab in order for the data they provide to be understood. The unholy mixture of dirt, grease, and sweat is the most common “ink” of a latent print. Cue in the forensic tools.

These are essential, whether it is a member of the police force that is being talked about or a different type of a civil authorities’ agent tasked with creating an applicant fingerprint card.

These tools are also a boon for the older brothers of the world who are out to prove, unequivocally, that a true injustice came to pass when they were blamed for spilling a younger sibling’s most favorite jar of orange marmalade on the living room couch.

Sam Walters is a writer living in Los Angeles. Her writing appears in print and online.

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