The Van That Can: RPS Forensic Identification Unit Gets New Wheels


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“We have everything here we need to deal with a crime scene.”

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Cpl. Keith Malcolm, of the Regina Police Department’s Forensic Identification Unit, remembers approaching a crime scene several years ago in the unit’s van.

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“When I started ident, we had like a Ford Windstar van that was modified for forensic work by removing the backseat,” he recalls. “You just threw your things in there. We were driving (to a scene) and the patrolling members were like, “Stop, you have to go around. We would say: “We are identities”. And they’d say, “No you’re not, shop around. “”

Those days are probably a thing of the past. About a month ago the unit received a new van that not only looks much more official than a family van, but is equipped in a way that allows the unit to do its job better on the road. crime scenes.

While the van and its contents don’t come cheap – all, when fully equipped, cost around $ 75,000 – Malcolm considers it more of an investment than an expense.

“It’s important,” he says of the work the unit does. “Well all policing is important work, but (the van) is definitely an investment that will pay off for a long time.”

Malcolm, one of the officers in charge of the Forensic Identification Unit (FIU), says he has been told to expect the van to be their vehicle of choice for the next 20 years. It looks good on him – and not just because he expects to be retired by then. Malcolm points out that the van is outfitted in a way that members of the unit could only hope for.

Corporal Keith Malcolm with the Forensic Identification Unit, outside the new van purchased by the Regina Police Service.
Corporal Keith Malcolm with the Forensic Identification Unit, outside the new van purchased by the Regina Police Service. Photo by TROY FLEECE /Regina Chief Position

The exterior of the modified van is fitted with three spotlights that can illuminate an otherwise dark scene. Inside, shelves and cabinets hold the tools of the trade close at hand – from protective gear to fingerprint and DNA kits, photographic equipment and a place to process evidence .

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“Here we have everything we need to deal with a crime scene – photographic equipment, our FARO 3D scanner lives here, everything to capture evidence, different camera lenses, items to develop fingerprints, to find evidence. blood, to find footprints, “he said.” It’s all there. “

  1. Cpl.  Keith Malcolm, of the Regina Police Service Forensic Identification Unit, stands in the Police Forensic Lab at Police Headquarters in Regina, Saskatchewan on August 6, 2020.

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He points to a large TV screen that now allows CRF members to check photos directly on the spot, meaning they’ll know immediately if they need to take them back for any reason. This is important to ensure that the photos are usable for investigative and legal purposes.

“There’s nothing worse than leaving the stage, freeing the stage, and later finding out that your photos are actually inferior,” says Malcolm. “So this way we can be 100% sure.

“The other big advantage about it is that it actually has a functional space. We have an established there. We have a few stools so we can sit down and examine a fingerprint if needed. We could look at any type of evidence we want. We can take pictures in a controlled environment instead of having to bring things back to the police station. “

He notes that it is particularly useful for managing rural or out-of-town locations. Not only is the vehicle all-wheel drive and therefore capable of traversing more difficult terrain, it has everything in it so that investigators on the spot do not belatedly realize that they need a tool or object that is all in. throughout the city.

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It is also relatively air-conditioned for comfort and large enough to allow members to equip themselves with protective gear as well as to clean themselves properly after crawling through stages that are often dirty or contaminated with various biological substances.

The RCMP were consulted on the interior layout of the van as they already had a similar van. Malcolm says the RPS CRF members are happy with the vehicle.

“We use it as much as possible,” he says.

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