Written by Saferstein and Roy, Criminalistics: An Introduction to Forensic Science is the book, which covers all the basic aspects of criminalistic science. It involves a wide range of topics, from fingerprints and forensic biometrics to DNA. Therefore, it provides fundamental information in this field and supplies a solid basis and precise explanations, which are essential to understand and get acquainted with this science comprehensively.
As it is mentioned in the book, fingerprints appear to be necessary evidence for conducting an investigation. There are prominent features, which make them so valuable:
“… a fingerprint is an individual characteristic because no two fingers have yet been found to possess identical ridge characteristics, a fingerprint remains unchanged during an individual’s lifetime…” (Saferstein & Roy, 2021, p. 147). Therefore, their importance in criminalistics cannot be underestimated, as they are highly likely to prove or refute the guilt of the suspected.
In addition, the authors pay attention to biometrics and its primary functions. First of all, its significance can be explained by the fact that it is helpful for identifying a particular individual in the crowd via biometric data (Saferstein & Roy, 2021). Secondly, it can be applied for accessing control. Therefore, biometrics presents an integral part of the enrollment process (Saferstein & Roy, 2021). In the context of present-day developments, a broad variety of new technologies in this field are created, such as FBI, NGI, PCA, LDA, and others. As well as fingerprints, this approach is extremely effective for revealing the crime commitments.
Continuing the topic of the fundamental knowledge of science, the authors highlight microscope as a basic instrument of criminalistics. They state: “forensic palynology involves the collection and examination of pollen and spores connected with crime scenes, illegal activities, or terrorism” (Saferstein & Roy, 2021, p. 184). For this reason, modern innovations on the improvement of microscopes are implemented in criminalistic practice in order to provide better outcomes.
Chapter 9 is devoted to the description of firearms and tool marks and provides an in-depth insight into this topic. It is essential for criminalists to be aware of the differences between guns, gunpowder, and other aspects in this regard. This knowledge allows them to examine toll marks competently. In this context, a comparison microscope is applied in order to analyze the crime-scene tool marks and compare them to test impressions of the suspect tool (Saferstein & Roy, 2021). Therefore, it may appear a vital clue in the process of the investigation.
In the book, Saferstein and Roy also address the topic of examination of matter, light, and glass. They claim that it is crucial to “determine the properties that impart distinguishing characteristics to matter, giving it a unique identity” (Saferstein & Roy, 2021, p. 246). Physical properties may provide essential information about a substance without the necessity to involve other substances, as well as its chemical property (Saferstein & Roy, 2021). In order to analyze glass objects, criminalists should adhere to two indicators, which are density and refractive index (Saferstein & Roy, 2021). In order to analyze the direction of the impact, scientists stick to radial and concentric fracture patterns. As the glass may supply important information about the happening, it should be put in solid containers to prevent breakage.
In chapter 11, hair and fiber are examined in the context of criminalistic practice. In order to analyze hair, scientists adhere to a comparison microscope, and color, length, and diameter present a matter of their interest. A microscope is helpful for distinguishing human hair from animal hair. However, the authors mark: “microscopic hair examinations tend to be subjective and highly dependent on the skills and integrity of the analyst” (Saferstein & Roy, 2021, p. 275). Therefore, the examination of hair should be accompanied by other evidence (Saferstein & Roy, 2021). As for fiber, the quality of this evidence is determined by the ability of a scientist to reveal its origin (Saferstein & Roy, 2021). In addition, it is important to package fiber in paper bags in order not to be misled by the analysis.
Moreover, Saferstein and Roy include basic information about various drugs in the book, cover the most widely spread types, and explain their effect. It is essential to prevent cross-contamination in the package, where a drug is stored. They also mark that unknown substance revealed during the examination may be one of the numerous types of drugs (Saferstein & Roy, 2021). In this context, chromatography, spectrophotometry, and mass spectrometry are applied, aiming to separate organic materials from carbon-containing ones.
Another important topic of criminalistic science implies forensic toxicology. In general, toxicology is intended to identify the presence of drugs and poisons in organisms, tissues, and other objects. Therefore, this aim is similar in the context of forensic toxicology (Saferstein & Roy, 2021). This process involves two steps, which are screening and confirmation. Thus, another objective of toxicologists is to estimate the effect of drugs or alcohol on a person. For this reason, this branch of criminalistics appears to be extremely important for providing an in-depth insight into the happening.
Saferstein, R. & Roy. T. (2021). Criminalistics: An introduction to forensic science (13th edition). Pearson.