SIRCHIE makes hundreds of products for the law enforcement community and offers classes in how to use those products at their Youngsville, North Carolina Education and Training site. Several crime writers were allowed an unprecedented opportunity to attend a five-day, hands-on training session, so that we could learn more about the latest and best gadgets being used to catch the crooks.
During the first two days of Evidence Collection Training, we used a number of chemicals, fingerprint powders, and brushes, and employed several different fingerprint lifting techniques on a variety of tricky surfaces. We discussed the benefits of both cheap and costly Alternate Light Sources.
Our notebooks were filling up and theories of the perfect crime were flying around the class. We kept quizzing Robert Skiff, our instructor, (SIRCHIE Training Manager/Technical Training Specialist) about ways to ‘get away with the murder of the decade.’ But as we learned, there is no perfect crime. That pesky trace evidence will always be waiting at every scene for the investigator to discover it, photograph it, tag it, bag it, and transport it without losing the integrity of the sample.
It was time to visit the plant – see how the powders, brushes, and other crime scene paraphernalia were made.
SIRCHIE manufactures most of its products in-house. The specialized vehicles for SWAT, bomb rescue, arson investigation, and surveillance work, etc., are built in New Jersey, but the smaller products are produced right in North Carolina.
Security was carefully controlled throughout our tour. Most of our group writes crime fiction, so we are always looking for a way our fictional criminals can break in (or out of) a wild assortment of locations. As we walked through the stacks and aisles of products, we commented to each other on the smooth organization and many checks SIRCHIE had in place. Cameras everywhere. Limited access to the assembly floor. Labyrinths a person could easily get turned around in. If we got separated from the group while taking an extra photo or two, we were found and escorted back by an always friendly employee.
Of course, we couldn’t turn into rogue students anyway. Our fingerprints littered the classroom and they knew where we lived.
Security plays a part in the assembly model as well. Each product they create is put together from start to finish by hand. There are no assembly lines because of trade secrets and a dedication to preserving product integrity. Personnel are carefully screened before being hired and qualification for employment includes graduate degrees. No criminal history whatsoever is allowed. Every employee comes through the Evidence Collection Training Class so that they understand what SIRCHIE does as a whole.
Templates for the various products are created in-house. The operators of these machines are highly trained experts. Quality control is paramount, so training is constant.
|Finger Print Brushes|
There are fiberglass brushes, feather dusters for the very light powder, regular stiffer brushes, and magnetic powder brush applicators.
If a handgun is seized for evidence, there needs to be a simple, yet effective way to track chain of possession.
*Bag the gun to preserve the fingerprints and
*drop the gun in the box.
*Then fill in the blanks on the box.
*Easy to stack and store until needed.
Think of all the cases that may be ongoing in a large jurisdiction – the evidence is not sitting at the police station. It’s in a warehouse someplace, and needs to be easily identified when required for court. In addition to several sized boxes for guns and knives, etc. SIRCHIE also provides an incredible assortment of resealable plastic bags for preserving evidence like clothing, unidentified fibers, etc.
|Wendy with Magnetic Powder|
Magnetic powder was being processed that day and then put into rows and rows of jars and jugs. Before it is sent out to the customers, each lot is tested for moisture content, appropriate ratio of ingredients and other trade secret tests. We joked about taking some back to class for the next round of fingerprint study and were surprised by how heavy the jugs were.
No, she’s not making bullets. She is assembling the cyanowand cartridges used for fuming with superglue.
|SIRCHIE Makes Riot Gear|
|Riot Helmet Drills|
This is not a photo of something from a SyFy movie. At the center of the shot is a helmet template. The drills encircling the template are aimed at spots where holes are needed for each helmet, depending on the type of helmet in production. All the holes are drilled at the same time.
|Buckles for Helmets|
|Padding is inserted after the buckles are attached.|
Completed Riot Helmet
While in the warehouse, we learned that if a product is discontinued, it is still supported by SIRCHIE. That means that if a law enforcement officer calls up with a problem a few years after purchasing a machine, he can still get help. Reassuring for jurisdictions with a tight budget that can’t afford to replace expensive equipment every year or two.
SIRCHIE sends supplies to TV shows, so next time you’re watching a fave detective or examiner lift prints with a hinge lifter, it may have come from SIRCHIE.
Great tour, great people who work so hard to keep the law enforcement community supplied with the gear needed to catch the bad guys.
A big thanks to Patti for stopping by today.
Patti has been a contributor to several articles here on the blog including: Finger Printing LINK and Footwear Evidence LINK. You can find a link to her blog NIGHTSTAND BOOK REVIEWS under my
"Blogs I Follow" on the information strip on the right hand side. Also check out Kerrian's Notebook LINK
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