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Be Patient with Your Crime Lab

By: Hilary Rodela, Lead Digital Content Writer for Taction USA


When you are in the midst of a new case, especially a homicide, it can be easy to get caught up in rush. That rush is not only adrenaline from the case itself, but it is also a literal rush against time. After all, the first 48 hours truly are the most crucial hours in a major case. During that window of time, investigators typically obtain more evidence and information than any other time frame in a case.


Once you have canvassed, interviewed, obtained various search warrants, processed a scene, and collected evidence, you then submit that important evidence to the lab. Once this is completed, the detective’s role in the case is not over by any means. There is still urgency in the case itself.


More often than not evidence will not be prompted quickly. Many investigators become frustrated with this point in time in a case. It can be extremely frustrating to all involved. However, it is important to consider the case from the labs’ perspective. A state crime lab serves law enforcement state wide. There may be multiple locations, but often there are specific labs across a state which are equipped for particular tasks. One may specialize in DNA extraction, while another specializes in fingerprint analysis or narcotics testing. That means evidence may be sent to more than one location and the results of the evidence may come in at varying times.


It is important to keep in mind the case load a state crime lab has. It should also be noted their standards are set high to keep your evidence from any contamination, or failure in the chain of custody. Though it may be easy to become frustrated with the wait, it is crucial to remember that state crime labs have their work cut out for them and they do their best which in turn, keeps your evidence safe.


All personnel in a case are equally important. From the first responding officer, to the lab technician, each role is necessary. The next time you work a case, look at each role and consider their job and their perspective. That may bring you a better understanding and a bit more patience.

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