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Other things related to forensics and crime scene investigators

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One study found that of 262 senior decision makers in small to medium enterprises, 13% have confidential business intellectual property on the printer. This sort of negligence happens for a myriad of reasons. Some employees may be so tired after a long day’s work that they forget the documents on the printer, some might not give it a second thought because they’re not away of the vulnerabilities of poorly managed documents. Other might simply not care at all (note: don’t hire these people!). There’s a workaround though. Apart from rigorous memos and training on the management side, a lot of companies are now employing  print control solutions to minimize security breaches and improve document management.

document security
Image: AgileLaw

Typically, this sort of technology creates a  virtual queue whenever a user submits a printing job. To print the documents, the user needs to visit the printer location then authenticate and release the jobs that they wish to print. By swiping a card, for instance, only those users with enough clearance or access may finish the job. Ultimately, this prevents confidential information from being left uncollected on printer output trays.

Concerning mode of authentication, we’ve seen companies employ all sorts of methods from cards, to PIN, to username and password, to good old keys. All of these can get lost, stolen or lent. Not very secure. The safest mode of authentication should be personal and non-interchangeable. This is where biometrics might come in.

The most common device for printers is a fingerprint scanner but other forms exist, including retina and facial scanners. Biometric data can’t be lost (imagine losing your fingers!) or stolen, and ensures that only the responsible person can print documents. It also enforces accountability.

Here are the steps your company or government office needs to take to enforce biometric data:

1. Notify your employees. This is important since you’ll be likely met with resistance, for very good reasons. Employees should be ensured in a transparent manner that their personal information wouldn’t be registered or stored anywhere. In the case of a finger print scan, the visual representation (image) of the fingerprint isn’t stored. Instead, the printer encrypts a mathematical representation of the fingerprint.

2. Check and verify the current legislation. Get in touch with your legal representative and make sure the encryption methods you use comply with the current policies and laws surrounding biometric data.

3. Communicate, communicate. During each step, inform your staff what’s going on, why biometric data is important and, again, that there should be no privacy concerns.

Biometrics is become increasingly prevailing, especially around security sensitive sites like airports or high-level government buildings. It is now expected to find facial recognition software and iris scanners in these places. For businesses, as well, biometric encryption is the way to go if security is a huge concern in your company.

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violentcrimes

Knowing the crime rates for states can be very valuable information in making many life decisions. It is important to be aware of crime rates when moving to a new home, seeking employment, or even considering a future career. Crime rates play into many aspects of our daily lives, so it is important to know what they are and what they mean. We were able to take a look at which states have the highest crime rates and what this means for you and your future from the opinion of someone with a paralegal degree. These Federal Bureau of Investigations findings are from 2012. Some of these statistics may come as a surprise to you.

  1. Tennessee: This state holds the number one spot for highest crime rates, with 643.6 violent crimes for every 100,000 residents. Tennessee also places first in the country for aggravated assaults. Despite its number one spot for highest crime rate, Tennesse has actually lowered its crime rate since 2007. There have been ups and downs during this state’s crime statistics but with the proper tools and education the crime rates can reach a new low. Lack of education has been shown to be related to crime rates. For those looking to live in Tennessee the crime rates are definitely something to consider, but looking at city specific rates can give an even clearer picture of an area’s crime rate.
  2. Nevada: It may be no surprise to see Nevada on the list. Home to Las Vegas, this busy state attracts people of all types which leads to its crime rates. Nevada has 607.6 violent crimes for every 100,000 residents. Despite being ranked number two in the nation, Nevada is number one in motor vehicle theft, robbery and aggravated assault. The areas within Nevada with the highest crime rates are Reno and Las Vegas, which happen to be the most popular places for tourists due to the enormous casino industry. These statistics should not stop you from enjoying a trip to Las Vegas, but it is important to be on the lookout and make an effort to be safe. It is a must to be mindful of your surroundings and avoid dangerous locations.
  3. Alaska: This state may come as a surprise, but Alaska has managed to reach number three. This state has a rate of 603.2 violent crimes for every 100,000 residents. Alaska is also number one in the entire nation for forcible rape at 79.7 rapes for 100,000 residents. About 37% of women in Alaska have suffered a sexual assault incident; this disturbing statistic may be an important factor to consider for those who might be moving there. Alaska also ranks number two for aggravated assaults. Alaska is an unusual state in that its poverty levels are low and its education levels are high, while still maintaining a high crime rate.
  4. New Mexico: This state’s high poverty rates are a factor to its crime rates, at 559.1 violent crimes for every 100,000 residents New Mexico has room for improvement. This state has some of the highest drug use rates in the country, which definitely play a role in its crime rates. Its burglary rates are the second worst in the country, which is important to note for those who are on the market for a home. New Mexico legislators have acknowledged that the crime rates affect the quality of life of their state; this acknowledgement is a positive thing because it shows that New Mexico legislators are willing to work to reduce the crime rates.
  5. South Carolina: This state also is a victim of high poverty rates which increase the number of crimes, with 558.8 violent crimes for every 100,000 residents. South Carolina has the highest rate of property crimes in the nation, as well as some of the lowest percentages of college educated residents. Not all hope is lost for this state, industry is growing with many companies moving their manufacturing facilities to South Carolina as employment rates increase and poverty rates decrease there can be positive change for this state.

These states are the top five in highest crime rates according the recent FBI statistics. Poverty and education rates are clearly linked to many of the statistics; education is a valuable tool in reducing the rates.

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atfLike many federal agencies involved in law enforcement, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) relies on information technology tools for a variety of purposes, ranging from crime investigation to managing administrative data to information sharing on intelligence with other federal and local agencies. Some of these IT tools are in full swing while others are in planning for implementation. The key takeaway is that IT is definitely becoming an integral tool for the agency. Here are some of the ways it’s being applied.

Geolocation

If you’ve seen the movie “Minority Report,” then you’ll remember the starting story line involved law enforcement using a predictive technology system to anticipate criminals before they commit their crimes. While today’s ATF is nowhere near that level of predictive technology, it is pursuing an advanced position in identifying the probable locations where firearms will be used in a crime. Using a statistical computer approach named geolocation, the concept uses past historical data to predict trends and probabilities of future gun use. However, the advantage is that the tool conceivably identifies where the crime will occur so law enforcement can anticipate and be ready ahead of time.

Many cities and states already rely on some form of geolocation software to anticipate where to place officers on street assignments. However, they don’t necessarily share their information between each other. ATF wants to take the idea to a national level, starting with 200 high priority locations in the country first, then expanding if successful. There are only so many places the ATF can take the info however, as the online financial crimes certification is essential for officers to train others.

Then NIBIN Program

One of the technology tools ATF already has in place and has been using in one form or another since the 1990s is the NIBIN Program. NIBIN, which stands for National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, is used identifying ballistic information to help solve crimes using firearms. The program has been in used for decades and has an extensive success record at contributing to criminal prosecutions. With the advances made to the NIBIN program and related databases, the ATF now regularly shares ballistic information nationally to state and local agencies trying to solve crimes. The information distribution has increased case-solving power considerably.

Shared Communication

Cohesive communication between federal law enforcement agencies has now become a priority, especially after the lessons learned on September 11, 2001 and the attack on the New York Twin Towers. The ATF has now initiated a contract with a major technology and defense vendor to build such as system, so the ATF’s investigation and databases can be shared as well as collecting valuable data from other agencies into the ATF for analysis.

The new project combines both software and hardware to meet the communication sharing goal, while also taking advantage of enhanced security, cloud computing, and mobility networks for immediate field access to the same information as that available at the office. Further, with data consolidation, ATF management expects to enhance its data mining capability for better analysis results as well as finding previously undetected case connections. The initial project will start at the ATF headquarters in Washington D.C. and eventually spread to field offices of the agency.

In Summary

There is no question that computer technology and advances in IT tools, particularly for analysis and predictive services, will continue to be a priority for the ATF as it is other federal law enforcement agencies. The power of technology has become very apparent for developing trends, statistics, forensic analysis and all sorts of case-producing successes. Granted, the value of the tools are realizing some maturing as limitations are now being discussed at the Supreme Court level as well as in public discourse. However, ATF’s use and marriage with IT won’t be going away anytime soon.

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In the past, we’ve written rather extensively on what forensic pathology entails and what requirements should a individual looking to become a forensic pathologist fulfill. Like any field of science, however, many times it’s advised to turn to its roots, see how it was first described and what we can learn from its history.

Painting depicting the death of Julius Caesar, by C.l. Doughty.
Painting depicting the death of Julius Caesar, by C.l. Doughty.

Forensic pathology is probably the most important field of forensic science today. A forensic pathologist must determine the cause of an unexpected death, whether it be a homicide (murder); suicide; accidental or natural causes. To establish the cause of death, a forensic pathologist has an array of tools and techniques at his disposal, the most common and effective being an autopsy. Technical terms include: lacerations; incised wound; puncture; abrasion; construsion; gunshot wound (then if it was a contact, close range, intermediate range, or distant range).

The advance of technology has greatly helped forensic pathology become more accurate, most notably DNA tests absolutely revolutionized the field when they were first introduced. But this is a bit far away – to review the history of forensic pathology, we need to dwell far deeper.

Some historians have regarded Imhotep (2650-2600 BC) as the first medicolegal expert because he was both chief justice and personal physician to pharaoh Zoser. In ancient Egypt, juridicial inquiries, aided by postmortem examinations, were required as far as some unexpected deaths were concerned, for high levels members of the clique.

In 44 BC, on of the first historical account of a forensic pathology examination occurred immediately after the sleighing of Julius Caesar by his collaborators. The examiner of that time concluded that of the the 23 wounds found on the body only one was fatal. Senators didn’t have that much of a skill with daggers and knives, maybe Brutus, a distinguished military, was the one that struck the fatal blow?

The first forensic medicine book was written in 1247 by Song Ci, an outstanding forensic scientist in the Southern Song Dynasty, who is now remembered as the father of forensic medicine. The five-volume masterpiece is titled Xiyuanjilu, and was written from Song Ci’s experience with forensic medicine during his life time.

In Europe, the first written records concerning forensic pathology appeared in 1507, when a volume titled the Bamberg Code appeared. Interesting enough a few years after the book came out, Emperor Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire changed the penal code in an very extensive manner, dubbing it Constitutio Criminalis Carolina, in which, among other, forensic pathology in trial was given a high importance. Thus, medical testimony was required during a trial, such that the manner of death had to be concluded, whether it was infanticide, homicide, abortion or poisoning.

Pathology was branched as an integral part of medicine into the investigation of deaths in the latter part of the nineteenth century, in America at least, when in 1890 in Baltimore a city ordinance authorized the Board of Health to appoint two physicians with the titles of medical examiner and assign them the duty of performing all autopsies requested by the coroner.

Finally, after pathology and toxicology were applied in solving thousands of crime cases in the world, forensic pathology was first recognized in the USA by the American Board of Pathology in 1959. Canada came a bit late to officialese the field, as it was formally recognized in 2003.

image credit

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AI2-3D is a Canadian firm which specializes in crime scene reconstructions and 3D forensic animated visualization. Using modern technology like laser scanning and photogrammetry, the company has helped forensic scientists, crime scene investigators, lawyers or detectives to visually piece together information for over 60 cases worldwide.

If you’re a fan of the popular TV shows CSI or Law and Order, than chances are you’ve come across the infamous graphic reconstructions often depicted episode after episode. In reality, behind the scenes, these kind of reconstructions involve a long and tedious process, usually lasting at least 8 weeks. Every piece has to be accurately placed, and this takes time, otherwise the point of recreating a situation as faithfully as possible becomes flawed.  Ai2-3D is the real deal when virtual crime scene reconstruction is concerned, and recently we’ve managed to reach the company’s CEO, Eugene Liscio, who was kind enough to answer some of ITSGOV’s questions.

Ai2-3D
Ai23-D

Ballistic trajectory passing through a body in a reconstructed crime scene environment. (C) AI2-3D

ITSGOV: Video animations and scene reconstructions have been around for quite a while. What does AI2-3D bring new to the table?

Eugene Liscio, AI2-3D: Many people involved in providing animation services come from an artistic background and do not approach a 3D Reconstruction in quite the same manner. My background is in Engineering (Aerospace Engineer) and there are 3 main components to my work. The first is Measurement/Mapping which is the foundation of any reconstruction. I use either laser scanners, total stations, photogrammetry or direct/hand measurements to create highly detailed models or to document a scene. The second component is the analysis. Where many people might jump right to the visualization, my interests are in the analysis of the data and trying to determine what pieces of information I can extract or pull from the scene model that might have an impact on the case. Finally, the visualization is the presentation of the data and the analysis either as a plan drawing, still image (3D Render), animation or a Forensic Virtual Model (i.e. interactive model). So, what AI2-3D brings to the table is a full documentation, analysis and visualization service.


Car accident reconstruction

ITSGOV: How accurate are the facts you depict in the AI2-3D animations (i.e.the position of the bicycle rider with respect to the car on the moment of impact) and how do you come about this information?

Eugene Liscio, AI2-3D:This is a great question. The physical evidence that comes from a scene is really what defines positions. Things like scrape marks, tire marks, vehicle crush, bloodstains, bullet trajectories, patterned injuries…etc. are physical evidence that can be interpreted by an experienced reconstructionist, bloodstain pattern analysis, pathologist or ballistics expert to tell you how some things contacted each other or how they were positioned.

In some cases, the amount of information is very limited and you have to start looking at many possibilities and scenarios about the events of the crime or accident. This is often useful in the investigation as it can provide some insight into other areas where investigators need to look for evidence. However, the legal “weight” of these reconstructions is limited due to their lack of physical measurements taken at the scene. So, you use these reconstructions as tools to aid the investigation, but not as substantive evidence.


Crime scene reconstruction with photogrammetry

ITSGOV: Do you have close ties with local authorities/forensic institutions?

Eugene Liscio, AI2-3D: Absolutely. I have done training for local and international police agencies and am currently doing some research with a local police force about measurement of bullet trajectories. I also believe it’s important to keep close ties with students and academic institutions and I currently have 3 students doing research at the University of Toronto (Forensic Sciences Program). By the end of this year, I will have been to conferences and speaking engagements in Germany, Holland, Canada, USA and Brazil.

ITSGOV: How often are you called about?

Eugene Liscio, AI2-3D: I travel about once a month, usually to “local” places, but a few times to the US to work on homicide cases. With all the communication tools available today, it’s quite easy to keep updated and speak with colleagues from all over the world so sometimes travel is not required, especially when evidence can be shipped to your doorstep.

ITSGOV: I understand AI2-3D reconstructions are sometimes used in court. What are their impact? Do they sometime account as evidence?

Eugene Liscio, AI2-3D: Once accepted in court, the evidence is either demonstrative evidence or substantive evidence. My work has been accepted in court either on its own or in many cases as part of another experts report. It’s difficult to quantify exactly how an animation helped so you have to rely on feedback from lawyers, investigators and scientists who are my clients. Lawyers and attorneys like the fact that they can have something visual to present that might make a complex subject a bit simpler to understand. On the other hand, many of the forensic experts I work with appreciate the scenario testing we can do to qualify a certain hypothesis about a crime.

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A bit of humour is almost always welcome – so here’s a little something I toyed with while I had a little time off.

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I’ve been recently writing a few articles about forensic anthropology, including the forensic anthropology salary and the connection between forensic anthropology and osteology. However, a picture is worth a thousand words, and a video is worth a thousand pictures, so, you do the math – I figured a few videos will fit in just fine, so here they are:

A forensic anthropologist explains what this job deals with:

Another complementary video, showcasing exactly what role do forensic anthropologists play in solving crime:

An extremely useful one hour lecture about chemistry in forensic anthropology

Another interesting lecture about the principles and applications of forensic anthropology:

Well, these are the ones I came across and found really interesting and nice – they should fill up a few hours alone just to watch, so if you’re just getting into it, start by watching and understaning the basics.

Be sure to check the articles in the Forensic Anthropology series:
Forensic anthropology explained
The salary, education and requirements for a forensic anthropologist
Forensic anthropology schools
Forensic anthropology videos
How forensic anthropologists find out information from bones
Forensic Anthropology Jobs: where and job description

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In case you didn’t know, the Journal of Forensic Sciences is a peer reviewed journal that features the most interesting and top notch developments in the field of crime scene investigation and forensic analysis. The coverage includes but isn’t limited to: biology, pathology, psychology, anthropology, jurisprudence, criminalistics, engineering, computer forensic, DNA sampling, and many many more.

I highly recommend getting a look at it, just in case you want to find out what developments are currently being made in the field, and what directions of study can be followed in order to become a crime scene investigator.

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If you are thinking about becoming a crime scene investigator, but you’re not sure if you want to, or you’re not sure what being a CSI actually means – this is perfect for you. If you want to know how much of the CSI movies is true and how much is false, again, this is perfect for you.

Real basic stuff, starts from absolute scratch, treats you like a total rookie – which is good, if you are one. There is no censorship, no beating around the bush, nothing like this – just facts, plain and simple.

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If you are interested in becoming a crime scene investigator, I have news for you: the competition is tough. T-O-U-G-H. You want every bit of advantage you can get – and this book might be just that advantage.

Written by former trainers at the National Forensic Academy, the book takes you over a number of CSI examples, extremely diversified, from the all empowered Texas Rangers to the sophisticated NYPD you see in all sort of movies. You get to see the facts as they occured, you find out what the forensics results were, you solve the crime step by step along with the policement who actually did it. It’s uncensored, and it shows you REAL crime scene investigator cases, as they happened, with every bit of truth.

Even more, it gives procedural details, and shows you the kind of things that you never get to see on TV – how crime scene technicians rest not knowing when they will be called, or how fast do medical examiners examine corpses.

The only downside I can state is that the two authors speak a lot about the program which formed them, and it’s a bit over the top if you ask me; just simple mentions and explanations about the program went would have sufficed.

All in all, a fantastic book and one that will guarantee to teach you something you didn’t know about CSI’s – if you’re not one already.

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