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Equipment Needed for Crime Scene Investigation

Date Published
May 31, 2009

This list accompanies NIJ's Crime Scene Investigation: Guides for Law Enforcement.

  • Optional items:

    Essential items for first responding officers. Initial responding officer(s) must have the following items readily available. Officers may want to consider keeping them in police vehicles:

    • Bindle paper.
    • Biohazard bags.
    • Consent/search forms.
    • Crime scene barricade tape.
    • First-aid kit.
    • Flares.
    • Flashlight and extra batteries.
    • Markers (e.g, business cards, chalk, spray paint or some other marker to place by noted evidence items).
    • Notebook.
    • Paper bags.
    • Personal protective equipment (e.g., gloves, booties, hair covering, overalls and mask).

    Essential items for crime scene personnel. Responding crime scene officer(s) must have the following items readily available. Officers should keep them in police vehicles or readily available toolkits.

    • Bindle paper.
    • Biohazard bags.
    • Bodily fluid collection kit (sterile swabs, distilled water, — optional presumptive tests, and sterile packaging that allows the swabs to air dry).
    • Camera (plus memory cards, back up battery, remote flash, tripod and remote cord).
    • Evidence seals/tape.
    • Flashlight(s) with extra batteries.
    • Footwear casting materials.
    • Graph paper and pencils, small ruler or straight edge.
    • Latent print kit.
    • Measuring devices (e.g, measuring wheel, tape measures of varying lengths).
    • Multifunction utility tool.
    • Notebook.
    • Paper bags (various sizes).
    • Permanent markers.
    • Personal protective equipment (e.g., gloves, booties, hair covering, overalls and mask).
    • Placards.
    • Plastic resealable bags (various sizes)
    • Scales for photography.
    • Spray paint, chalk, etc.
    • Syringe/knife tubes.
    • Tweezers(disposable).

    Optional items. Officers may need to use other items, and may wish to have them readily available in their police vehicle. These items include:

    • Audio recorder.
    • Biohazard labels.
    • Bloodstain pattern examination kit.
    • Business cards.
    • Backup camera.
    • Chalk.
    • Cutting instruments (knives, box cutter, scalpel, scissors).
    • Directional marker/compass.
    • Disinfectant.
    • Distilled water.
    • Entomology (insect) collection kit.
    • Evidence collection containers (e.g., jars, paper bags, resealable plastic bags, metal paint style cans).
    • Evidence identifiers.
    • Evidence seals/tape.
    • Extension cords.
    • Fingerprint ink pad and pint cards for elimination prints.
    • Flags (surveyor type) for marking evidence and setting up search patterns.
    • Forensic light source (alternate light source, UV lamp/laser, goggles).
    • Generator.
    • Gunshot residue kit.
    • High-intensity lights.
    • Labels.
    • Laser trajectory kit.
    • Magnifying glass.
    • Maps.
    • Marker stickers such as numbers, letters, arrows, scales.
    • Marking paint/snow wax.
    • Metal detector.
    • Mirror.
    • Nail clippers and orange peeler (for collecting debris under suspect fingernails).
    • Phone listing (important numbers).
    • Pocket knife.
    • Presumptive blood test supplies.
    • Privacy screens.
    • Protrusion rod set.
    • Rakes.
    • Razor blades or knife (knife must have blades that can be broken off after each use).
    • Reflective vest.
    • Refrigeration or cooling unit.
    • Respirators with filters.
    • Roll of string.
    • Rubber bands.
    • Screen sifters.
    • Sexual assault evidence collection kit (for victim and suspect).
    • Shoe print lifting equipment.
    • Tarps to protect evidence from the weather.
    • Templates (scene and human).
    • Thermometer.
    • Tool kit.
    • Traffic cones.
    • Trajectory rods.
    • Waterless hand wash (towelette with germicide).

    Examples of Evidence Collection Kits

    A blood collection kit might include:

    • Coin envelopes.
    • Disposable scalpels.
    • Distilled water.
    • Ethanol.
    • Evidence identifiers.
    • Latex gloves.
    • Photographic ruler (ABFO scales).
    • Presumptive chemicals.
    • Sterile gauze.
    • Sterile swabs.
    • Test tubes/test tube rack.

    A bloodstain pattern documentation kit might include:

    • ABFO scales.
    • Calculator.
    • Laser pointer.
    • Permanent markers.
    • Protractor.
    • String.
    • Tape.

    An excavation kit might include:

    • Cones/markers.
    • Evidence identifiers.
    • Metal detectors.
    • Paintbrushes.
    • Shovels/trowels.
    • Sifting screens.
    • String.
    • Weights.
    • Wooden/metal stakes.

    A fingerprint kit might include:

    • Black and white film.
    • Brushes.
    • Chemical enhancement supplies.
    • Cyanoacrylate (super glue) wand/packets.
    • Flashlight.
    • Forensic light source.
    • Lift cards.
    • Lift tape.
    • Measurement scales.
    • One-to-one camera.
    • Powders.

    An impression kit might include:

    • Impression
    • Bowls/mixing containers.
    • Boxes.
    • Dental stone (die stone).
    • Evidence identifiers.
    • Measurement scales.
    • Permanent markers.
    • Snow print wax.
    • Water.

    A pattern print lifter kit might include:

    • Casting materials (casting material, distilled water if needed for casting material, casting frames, mixing bowl if needed for casting material, polymer type casting material with various size spreader tips.)
    • Chemical enhancement supplies.
    • Electrostatic dust lifter.
    • Gel lifter.
    • Wide format lift tape.

    A trace evidence collection kit might include:

    • Acetate sheet protectors.
    • Bindle paper.
    • Clear tape/adhesive lift.
    • Electrostatic dust lifter.
    • Flashlight (oblique lighting).
    • Forceps/tweezers.
    • Glass vials.
    • Slides and slide mailers.
    • Trace evidence vacuum with disposable collection filters.

    A trajectory kit might include:

    • Calculator.
    • Canned smoke.
    • Dummy.
    • Laser.
    • Mirror.
    • Protractor.
    • String.
    • Trajectory rods.

    See an equipment list for bomb and explosion scene investigation.

Date Published: May 31, 2009