Each officer of the Oak Lawn Police Department receives training in the basic methods of physical evidence collection. More advanced techniques, however, utilize sophisticated equipment and chemicals which can be hazardous to the user if not handled properly. The techniques utilized when employing these chemicals and equipment requires more detailed training and experience than can be afforded to each officer. In order to insure that the latest techniques available to law enforcement are employed safely and in sound investigative manners, a number of officers have been designated as Evidence Technicians.
UNIT DESCRIPTION: The Evidence Unit is staffed by nine evidence technicians and one Sergeant and operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Evidence Unit is charged with conducting a thorough search of major crime scenes in order to identify, document, collect and preserve all physical evidence. The Unit must record, by means of photography, videotape, and diagrams, the conditions of crime scenes, any evidence found therein, and other incidents that require official recording. Crime scene processing and the collection of physical evidence are very technical and complex in nature. These tasks must be done properly to enhance a successful investigation and the prosecution of the offender in a court of law.
TECHNOLOGY & TRAINING: The rapid advancement in scientific methods of evidence detection at crime scenes requires continuous training for personnel of the Evidence Unit to remain current. New Evidence Technicians are required to successfully complete a comprehensive forty-hour formal training program.
The Evidence Technicians also aid in identifying criminal perpetrators through the analysis of trace evidence deposited at crime scenes. Trace evidence is any material transferred from one surface or item to another by contact. Examples include, but are not limited to: fingerprints, footprints, footwear impressions, hair, blood, fibers, semen, saliva, paint, and soil.
Physical evidence is often crucial to the successful apprehension and prosecution of persons responsible for criminal acts. As science progresses, chemical fingerprint processing, microscopic analysis and DNA testing, just to mention a few, are areas of evidence collection concerns which have created the need for more specific knowledge and training for police officers conducting investigations. Additional problems concerning blood borne pathogens and other disease transmission possibilities require specific safety precautions to be utilized.