ELK GROVE, Calif. — It’s a typical evening at the Elk Grove Police station and forensics investigator Iris Ott gives us an all-access pass to the forensics lab. You may have heard of "CSI" in TV shows and movies, but after tagging along with the real thing, this is far from fiction.

At one point during our time with Ott, she pulled out a piece of firearms evidence that was collected by an Elk Grove Police Officer. Ott's office got a request from the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office to process the evidence for fingerprints.

"I have a couple of different methods to use to process it," Ott explained. "We can put it in our super glue chamber first and fume it and then powder it. That will be the best way to determine if there’s any evidence on it."

The super glue chamber takes about 40 minutes to detect any evidence, so she showed us another procedure.


"So this is one of our training props. This has fingerprints that have been placed on it," Ott said. "This is another one of our processing techniques. The powder I’m going to use is a magnetic powder, so it has magnetic particles mixed in with the black powder that we normally use. And then I can brush it over the area that has fingerprints and they will start to appear."

Throughout Ott's explanation, there were several officers in the background taking pictures of this process. The Elk Grove Police Department often document what goes on around the department and posts it to their Facebook page.

"So social media for us as a department is an important tool for us to connect with our community members," said Elk Grove police spokesperson Officer Jason Jimenez. "Shed light on some crucial topics that are maybe happening in the community and to provide some insight."

From a distance, a forensics police vehicle may look a lot like a regular police vehicle, but when you take a look inside you’ll see a lot of differences.

There's practically a mini office in the back.


"We have different processing kits in here," Ott explained as she showed us the back of her vehicle. "This one is a blood and DNA kit. This is for trace evidence. And this one has casting materials. Everything is in the vehicle that we would need out in the field."

Ott added that they can be called out to a variety of scenes at any moment.

"We get called out to a lot of burglaries," Ott said. "We get called out to domestic violence situations. We get called out to traffic collisions and traffic fatalities. Probably most common in Elk Grove is vehicle thefts and other theft related incidents.”

On this particular evening, they were not dispatched to any scene. So we were just along for the ride.

Officer Ott went on to say that the one thing she enjoys about the job is that every day is different. As technology changes, their job changes. So there’s always something new to learn.

Follow the conversation on Facebook with Kevin John.


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