The Safariland Group Blog

What is "Speaking Evidence" and what story does it tell?

February 8, 2009 at 09:07
shoeprint impression evidenceTrack evidence in the form of footwear and tire marks at crime scenes is the most overlooked and under utilized form of physical evidence in all types of investigations, even though it has been recognized as the oldest form of a forensic application in the investigation of a crime.

One of the really distinctive aspects of track evidence is that it is ‘Speaking Evidence” and can provide valuable investigative support to an investigation.

I call it “Speaking Evidence” because track evidence call tell a story about what actions occurred at a scene and even which individuals did what by documenting movements through footwear outsole patterns. There is such a wide and varied array of patterns on today’s footwear styles and brands that having similar features between footwear of individuals, suspects or victims, would be extremely unlikely. This permits the establishment of factors such as:
  1. Point of Entry 
  2. Number of involved persons 
  3. Movements and Actions at Scene 
  4. Point of Exit
  5. Route of Escape, which has even been used to ‘track’ down the suspect(s).
Another manner in which tracks are “Speaking Evidence” is the investigative lead information that is possible. Latent prints and DNA are recognized as the ultimate form of personal identification linking a person to a crime. However, they provide no value in the investigative stage and only provide personal identification when supported through a record database or analysis of a suspect in custody. Track evidence, on the other hand, can provide essential information that can assist in the location and apprehension of the suspect through its associative evidence aspect.

There are programs in both the areas of footwear and tire that can permit the matching of a pattern to a style or brand of footwear or tire. This can provide investigative leads that can be utilized by investigators and patrol officers to identify and locate suspects. Looking for an individual with a particular style and brand of footwear, openly visible, can be very useful in eliminating or targeting certain individuals. The information that a particular style and brand of tire can be found on the right front wheel of a vehicle known to have been involved in an incident can contribute to a successful investigation.

These are reasons that track evidence is “Speaking Evidence”. It must be considered in almost all crime scene scenarios. It is important that investigators are listening to what is being said by this important form of associative evidence.

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