Evidence can play an important role in an investigation, sometimes even leading to the arrest of a suspect.
The Moose Jaw Police Service's Forensic Identification Specialists or the FIS unit has two constables, Constable Murray Rice and Constable Evan Schwabe.
These officers work to determine what could be evidence when inspecting a crime scene, lifting fingerprints off of objects to find out who they belong to and collecting other DNA samples.
Evidence from the crime scene will be dusted with special powders or chemicals to lift fingerprints, and Schwabe says the technology is advancing all the time.
"One of the best ways to get a print is using cyanoacrylate fumes, which is essentially crazy glue, and we put it in a chamber for 15 minutes, and the fumes adhere to the fingerprints, producing really clear prints," says Schwabe.
He says all viable fingerprints are sent to the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS). The AFIS database holds all fingerprints taken from police services across the country and can match the suspect with the prints if they have that information on file.
What items could be considered evidence when arriving at the crime scene? Schwabe says it largely depends on the occurrence. Evidence could be anything, from things left behind by the suspect to tire marks or footage from security cameras.
"We work closely with our detectives unit," says Schwabe. "They gather info for us, so it helps you narrow down the scope of the types of evidence you are looking for."
Evidence found that was involved in a homicide or a sexual assault case is kept forever, in case technology advances or new information is brought to light years later.
"We don't want to be throwing out anything that all of a sudden goes back to court," says Schwabe. Found property stays at the station for about three months, and if no one comes to claim the items, they either get disposed of or auctioned off.
If you find yourself a victim of a crime, Schwabe says it is best to leave the evidence handling to the professionals.
"If you think the suspect touched or moved something, leave it alone. Keep an eye on it, and make sure no one else touches it and then call the police," says Schwabe.
"Sometimes all we need is one fingerprint for a key piece of evidence," says Schwabe.
He also says if you can prevent it from the elements, it could preserve the evidence.
"If it's something like a footprint in the snow, we might want to cover it with a box to keep it intact."
Schwabe says working on the FIS unit is incredibly rewarding.
"When you get that DNA match, and that is the evidence needed to close the case, it's pretty amazing."