Wyoming Police Citizen’s Academy – Week 5

Really, I didn’t forget about it. There was no session last week, and its been a bit hectic.

Week 5 covered the detective bureau’s operations and the technical support unit (CSI).

Wyoming PD has 8 general detectives, 1 dedicated to auto theft, 5 total for the metro area fraud team (Wyoming, GR, Kentwood, and Kent County departments), and several sergeants and a lieutenant overseeing the department. The detectives review all incident reports from the patrol division, and determine if someone should be assigned to the case, or if it should just be filed away. Not all cases are assigned to a detective, usually due to a lack of evidence, but they are all kept in the system in case something tied to a case (ie, a serial number) does turn up.

Detectives also process and obtain all arrest and search warrants. They work closely with the prosecutor’s office to prepare for any upcoming trials, and have the resources in-house to prepare other officers for courtroom testimony.

Pawn shops and second-hand stores also feed any sale information to the detective bureau. By looking at patterns in sales of items to pawn shops, they can attempt to track down possible stolen merchandise.

The Technical Support Unit consists of one sworn sergeant, 4 full time civilian technicians, and 1 part time print examiner. While they can’t quite do what you see on CSI, they still have a lot of tools at their disposal for retrieving evidence at a crime scene.

One of the most common things to look for at a scene is a fingerprint. Unfortunately, unless the conditions are exactly right (hard, clean surface & right amount of skin oils), they usually can only pull a partial print with traditional techniques. With the use of a forensic light source (such as a Polilight), they can find latent prints which may be of higher quality. Many prints these days are taken with a combination of the FLS and digital photography. Prints aren’t just restricted to fingers anymore. Kent County departments have begun collecting full palm prints, as they are still unique, and provide a larger surface area to find a match.

The TSU also handles shooting scene reconstruction and blood spatter analysis. I won’t pretend to know the details of some of the math they posted (I don’t know much trig, sorry). Suffice to say, several of the example slides they presented graphically demonstrated how various blood spatters can be cross-referenced with each other to come to a likely point of impact.

This coming week will cover the K-9 unit and TACT team.