By C.K. Hull & Associates
Cindy Hull, Juan Rodriguez and Paul Catena
Whether you're assigned to a forensic laboratory or out in the field doing crime scenes, the forensic field is constantly changing and developing new equipment and techniques. For a crime scene responder, personal safety and the preservation of evidence is key. Finding a tool that saves you time in the elements without sacrificing the quality of evidence is priceless.
A comparison test was conducted between the product Stat-Lift sold by Arrowhead Forensics and the Electrostatic Dust Print Lifter sold by Sirchie. The testing was performed to determine the advantages and disadvantages of each product, including the cost effectiveness, clarity of the lift, and ease of use. Neither product was tested in a crime scene environment. The surface materials that were used for testing were tile, cement, a gloss finish wooden table, textured and smooth metal, commercial carpet, and clothing (hooded sweatshirt).
The Stat-Lift product can be ordered in 9''x 14'' pre-cut sheets or in a 9''x 100' roll. The 9''x 14'' sheets were used for testing purposes. The pre-cut Stat-Lift sheets have an inherent static charge which eliminates the need for any additional equipment and electricity which makes the product easy to use and transport. In keeping with common practice, photograph the dust print before and after using the Stat-Lift. To use the Stat-Lift, simply remove the protective backing and place the sheet on an impression, flatten and remove. This means that you can be more efficient with your time at the crime scene, and at under $2 per sheet there is little monetary risk involved.
The Electrostatic Dust Print Lifter comes in a kit with a power supply/control unit which is battery operated, a ground plate, an insulated roller, and a 5 2'x3' lifting mats. The Electrostatic Dust Print Lifter requires you to cut the lifting mat which can be time consuming when you are out in the elements. The use of additional equipment (grounding plate and roller) is needed to setup and operate. In keeping with common practice, photograph the dust print before and after using the Electrostatic Dust Print Lifter.
To use the Electrostatic Dust Print Lifter cut the lifting mat to size, place the grounding plate on an edge of the lifting mat, one end of the power supply will be placed on the lifting mat and the other end will be placed on the grounding plate. The Electrostatic Dust Print Lifter offers the ability to increase the voltage of the power supply to lift a difficult print. At a $660 price tag is a bigger investment than the Stat-Lift, but may be worth it based on your needs.
The Stat-Lift sheets performed well on most surfaces tested. The only surface that did not perform well was the hooded sweatshirt. The Electrostatic Dust Print Lifter performance was outstanding, lifting quality prints from all surfaces tested.
The efficiency and ease of use of the Stat-Lift sheets makes them a great choice for most crime scenes. While the ability of the Electrostatic Dust Print Lifter to lift prints from virtually any surface makes it an invaluable tool. Both the Stat-Lift by Arrowhead and the Electrostatic Dust Print Lifter by Sirchie are quality products that would be a welcome addition to any crime scene kit.