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The Science of Sleuthing

by: Harshita Parmar


Hi everyone! This article is the end of our Forensics Week, where we will be exploring further into real life uses of forensics! This article, written by writer Harshita Parmar is the second and last installment in our Forensic Series. Happy Reading!


You've probably watched a Law-and-Order episode and cavorted at justice carried out. The evidence collected by forensics is instrumental to this. However, only few people are aware of the strenuous process that allows for a verdict to be announced in a case. Forensic science, however, is a vital tool for the law system.



What is Forensic Science?

Forensic science is the utilization of science in criminal and civil laws. Forensic scientists work together as a team to collect and analyze evidence, ranging from DNA to drugs. Using this evidence, forensic scientists further the investigation by unraveling what happened at a crime scene, who is the culprit, and how the victim was potentially harmed. The presence of evidence can also prove an innocent person as not guilty if they are falsely accused of a crime. For example, if they were by the crime scene unknowingly or for a different reason than what was assumed. Forensic science labs exist at the local, state, and even federal level. Some duties of the Department of Justice, which handles forensic science investigation at a national level, include coordinating and collaborating with forensics specialists in the federal government as well as state, local, and tribal bodies, setting as an example for state and local laboratories nationwide, and increasing capacity of forensic science providers and continuing to make forensic science investigations and procedures more and more reliable.



Journey of Forensic Science

Although forensic science was used in China for the first time over a thousand years ago, it was in the 19th century when fingerprints and bodily measurements were used to identify individuals. Over time, fingerprints were studied, blood was studied and classified into 4 different groups that we identify today; ballistics (comparison of bullets in guns) was also analyzed. These findings transformed forensic sciences. The analysis of blood and fingerprints significantly helped in the investigation of many criminal cases. Today, we are able to use various methods within the branch of forensic science, such as forensic molecular biology (DNA, for instance), trace evidence, ballistics, fingerprint analysis, and digital to aid the legal system in solving cases.



Process of Forensic Investigation

First and foremost, the location of the crime at the scene is determined and security is established to prevent any tampering of evidence by anyone. Before evidence can be collected, the crime committed has to be identified from the witnesses and possibly potential suspects. Then, a primary survey is done to collect any sort of important evidence and the environment of the crime scene is recorded; including details like positions of doors, whether lights are on/ off, smells existing, any furniture present, and even the temperature of the scene. Once this is done, many forms of evidence such as trace materials (glass, fibers, pollen, wood, soil), fingerprints, biological and DNA evidence (by swabbing) are collected in an orderly manner. Lastly, a secondary survey is conducted to ensure the scene has been properly probed, and all evidence is recorded and preserved safely.



Without a doubt, the use of forensic science in the law system has proved to be beneficial, despite the many challenges and procedures it requires to ensure all investigations are done properly. It is undeniable that this field will only continue to grow, and more technologies may be implemented, such as artificial intelligence, to further propel this field and enhance the function of the law system.


We hope you enjoyed reading the second article in our Forensics week! if you enjoyed this article, you should go read the first article in our Forensics Series, linked here. This article is a must read and explores very interesting techniques used in the field of Forensics.


As always, if you would like to be a writer, or have any questions about the Writing Committee, please feel free to comment down below, or email anushasoni241@gmail.com.


Thanks for reading and remember to stay tuned for more articles!


Until next time,

Harshita and the Writing Committee :)


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