“It will not always be the sample, but instead the process that determines viability.” Chase Kloetzke
Over the past few months, I have received several inquiries on the proper evidence collection process. It seems manyinvestigators, like me, realize that without a proper procedure or industry approved tools, we will simply waste time and money. One of the lessons learned in the field is: it’s not the sample that is most important but how we secure the sample without contamination and other factors.
I have witnessed several mistakes in understanding proper processing, such as examination gloves. The most common ones would be latex gloves – usually purchased in a box and easy to use. These are not for any kind of forensic work or collection because they are designed to protect the individual from any contamination. Sterile gloves, however, do protect the samples from contamination or cross contamination when used properly. The latex gloves will simply NOT do this as they are packaged in bulk and do not offer any protection for a sample.
Contamination, whether from the environment or investigator will be the #1 reason for failed attempts and is completely avoidable when we understand the forensic realities. Just as a chain is as strong as its weakest link, the validity of evidence is as reliable as the materials used to collect it. It starts with a plan.
The first step I recommend is to know the needs of your specific investigation and what evidence is most represented in the assignments you accept. For example, as someone who investigates UFO reports, I have learned to anticipate the types of evidence that would be presented from experience with past investigations. All evidence takes many classifications that require the full attention to specific considerations, collection, containment and transport considerations. This is best achieved through proper industry tools. I use “Arrowhead Forensics” [ http://www.arrowheadforensics.com/ ] as I have found they provide a thorough inventory, great pricing and a convenient account set up. They also provide training videos and “How To” books and manuals on the latest techniques and protocols. Proper tools also offer sterile packaging and protection that guard against the scientific rejections.
Without using and verifying these important standards in collection, we are often faced with the accusatory finger-pointing by debunkers and scientists, and rightfully so. If you cannot identify or prove your process and collection methods, even when it comes to simple containment, we are already in the line of fire!
Utilizing industry approved and viable tools is the best first step.
I have a deep rooted passion for investigations and have made a conscious effort to master my skills through continued education using online courses that will benefit my goal – to do this right. “Why?” some would ask. My reply is always the same – because we have a large population of people who see or experience these things that are NOT supposed to exist and who can they call? It will be those of us who have accepted the responsibilities of the title: INVESTIGATOR. We are all they have and we must keep the witnesses our top priority at all times. This is best achieved by offering truly professional and admissible investigations.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of our series on Evidence Collection.