University of Phoenix
June 19, 2015
Across the nation, headlines tell the story of evidence that has been mishandled, misplaced, lost, or destroyed. Often the blame for these mishaps is directed towards property and evidence custodians housed in law enforcement agencies nationwide. Many law enforcement agencies do not properly address, recognize, or support the efforts of their property rooms. Although these agencies bear ultimate responsibility for maintaining the integrity of the evidence, the real problem lies with a systemic failure to properly account for evidence from collection through final disposition. This failure reduces the public’s confidence in the criminal justice system to produce just results in criminal and civil proceedings.
Biological evidence consists of bodily fluids and tissues. Biological evidence has particular significance since DNA analysis can be conducted in many instances. This DNA analysis may identify the donor. Examples of biological evidence containing DNA include:
Sloughed skin cells
A DNA profile may also be obtained by swabbing items thought to have been handled by a perpetrator. This type of evidence is sometimes referred to as “touch” DNA. (NFSTC, 2014)
The power of DNA testing is such that examination of biological items can produce very compelling evidence. However, attention must be paid to safety, contamination and degradation issues. Biological evidence may be detected by any of the following:
Alternate light source
Chemical enhancement, such as luminol
Blood can contain pathogens such as the hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus and the human immunodeficiency virus (or HIV). It is essential to regard all biological evidence as potentially infectious and to follow universal...