Debbie Wolfe will report from each session of the 2017 Gulfport Citizen’s Police Academy. This is part six of 11.
CSI television shows are nothing like what we do,” said CSI Specialist Heather Mead of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. And, she should know. She’s a field-training officer, works on the major case response team and has been with the office for 16 years.
She and other local specialists work major crime scenes such as those related to rape, murder and stabbings using digital cameras, tweezers, plaster-like casting material, fingerprint dusting power and specialty lights to locate hairs, fibers, footprints, fingerprints, DNA and body fluids as evidence.
Nike slide sandals are good sources of DNA best because people run out of them all the time,” said Mead.
Their shifts are long and crime scene working conditions can be hot, said CSI Specialist Kirsten Hernandez. “We wear black, we sweat and we get fingerprint powder all over our clothes and skin. I used to wear makeup, but now I don’t because of the black powder. I’m washing my face all the time.”
Specialists also use a $100,000 specialty Leica brand 3-D, 360-degree crime scene scanning camera that takes two people to operate because it’s so heavy. The office acquired the gear thanks to a grant, said Mead.
A demonstration video from the laser camera filmed locally showed academy participants how the land-based, tri-pod mounted specialty camera can give a high-angle, full-circle and “fly through” detailed view of a major crime scene even at night.
According to the Leica website, images taken by the camera allow legal staff to take courtroom jurors inside crime scenes so they can see evidence for themselves.
To get an idea of how the specialty camera works, view a short demonstration video here.