Criminal investigation has come a long way since its humble beginnings with Sherlock Holmes and Inspector Lestrade, and today’s technologies are more sophisticated than ever before.
From facial recognition software to electronic surveillance and remote listening devices, the field of criminal investigation has received many revolutionary upgrades in recent years that have helped police and government agencies solve crimes faster and more accurately than ever before.
Here are some of the most popular innovations in criminal investigation that have helped modern law enforcement better solve cases.
The science of identifying individuals based on unique physical traits. Fingerprints, DNA and iris scans are all examples of biometrics technology.
More advanced fingerprint scanners are used to capture latent prints left at crime scenes; these non-visible impressions can be used to match a suspect’s fingerprints against those already on file.
New technology is also being developed that can match voices, teeth, faces and gait with existing records or CCTV footage.
DNA identification is revolutionizing criminal investigation and unlocking secrets that have remained hidden for decades.
Criminals used to think they could leave no traces of themselves behind until DNA identification was invented.
The use of DNA testing has dramatically increased both justice for victims and safety for society as a whole.
All around, it has been a win-win situation for all parties involved.
Fingerprints have been used as proof of a person’s identity for more than 100 years. In 1892, Sir Francis Galton concluded that fingerprints were unique to every individual, something that can be found nowhere else on Earth.
While we still use fingerprints for identification purposes, modern science has expanded on fingerprinting by using sophisticated computers to compile and analyze fingerprint databases.
Traditionally, a polygraph machine is a device that measures various physiologic factors like pulse, blood pressure, and respiration to determine whether or not you are lying.
The theory behind them is that people with guilty consciences will feel more stress when answering truthfully than when telling a lie.
However, polygraphs are not sometimes reliable in fact, most law enforcement agencies don’t use them at all anymore because they are not yet proven to be accurate or reliable.
That said, some private companies still use them as part of their hiring process. And if you are asked to take one which is rare,it is best to cooperate fully so as not to raise any red flags during your interview.
The Toxicology Section of a crime lab is responsible for examining evidence collected by law enforcement officers and medical examiners that might be related to drugs or poison.
They are not just limited to only drug cases, but they may also test items involved in homicides, suicides, or when other questions of death arise.
The toxicology section also examines biological samples such as blood, urine, and feces. These types of samples can be used to detect bodily injuries or diseases.
For example, if someone dies from an overdose of hard drugs it would be important to determine if there were any traces of other drugs present at the time of death. This could help determine if it was an accident or homicide.
The use of explosives to uncover hidden evidence dates back as far as 1242, when gunpowder was first used to determine if a person was guilty or innocent.
Since then, many developments have occurred with technology like FLIR (forward-looking infrared cameras), thermal imaging equipment, and cadaver dogs.
All of these tools assist in criminal investigations by locating objects that are otherwise difficult to find.
Cell phone tracking applications
As law enforcement continues to evolve technologically, some of them use cell phone tracking applications to locate suspects, victims and criminals.
While many applications are available for free online, users should know their rights and how to protect themselves from invasion of privacy before downloading a cell phone app.
Downloading an app like mSpy can help you monitor your child’s smartphone activity or keep track of an employee.
Note: Not all apps deliver what they promise; read reviews before installing an application on a smartphone that belongs to someone else.
Forensic psychology or criminal profiling
The 1980s saw a flurry of interest in using psychology to catch criminals, particularly serial killers.
Behaviorists and psychiatrists developed personality tests for police use, and at least one researcher applied his idea of criminal profiling to an unsolved double murder.
The FBI finally issued official guidelines for behavioral profiling in 2004. One problem: Behavioral profiling has yet to be scientifically validated as a useful investigative tool.
In fact, a 2005 study found that trained profilers were no better than untrained officers at solving crimes or identifying suspects. But we are still intrigued by what psychologists have to say about criminal behavior and what they can do with it.
Advanced forensic toxicology
Toxicology is a vital part of criminal investigation because it can reveal whether or not an individual was poisoned.
It has always been a controversial science, however, which has been plagued by contamination issues. Recently, researchers have developed more advanced methods to detect even minute traces of toxins that may be present in an individual’s body.
Tests such as liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry can determine with great accuracy whether an individual had certain drugs or poisons in their system at death.
These tests are so sensitive that they can even tell if someone took a single pill of Tylenol within two hours before death.
The development of these tests is revolutionizing toxicology, but there are still some challenges for forensic toxicologists to overcome before these tests become commonplace in courtrooms.
For example, lawyers will likely argue that these new tests don’t accurately reflect what was actually present in an individual’s body at time of death due to contamination issues during testing.
Crime scene reconstruction
If we ever find ourselves face-to-face with a serial killer, we should be thankful that some scientists are willing to spend their days reenacting what happened.
In a nutshell, crime scene reconstruction involves taking forensic evidence and combining it with information about local weather patterns, geographical features of an area, and even clues from past murders by the same person to try and predict how a criminal committed a murder or other crime.
Crime scene reconstruction is useful for more than just investigating past crimes; it can also help us figure out ways to prevent future ones.
For example, if police know a serial killer prefers certain types of weapons, they can look into ways to keep those weapons out of his hands or at least make sure he doesn’t have access to them when he commits his crimes.