INA - A new forensic science (crime) laboratory is being used at Rend Lake College.
Criminal Justice students now have the opportunity to examine a variety of physical evidence items commonly found at crime scenes in the forensic science (crime) laboratory.
The increasing application of scientific principles to difficult criminal cases has given rise to the general field of forensic science, or science applied to legal problems. That particular area of forensic science which describes the services normally provided by crime laboratories is known as criminalistics.
“Students using the new crime laboratory will be introduced to the various ways that a crime laboratory examines physical evidence,” said RLC criminal justice professor Ed Heischmidt.
A crime laboratory is a scientific organization with a dedicated mission of aiding the process of criminal justice. It provides this aid by answering, or helping to answer, the vital questions of whether a crime was committed, how and when it was committed, who committed it, and who could not have committed it.
There are two distinct activities involved in laboratory work. One is the gathering of evidence at the scene of the crime and the other is the scientific analysis of the evidence using the laboratory. The effectiveness of the lab analysis often depends on the efficiency of gathering evidence, Heischmidt explained.
"While the crime laboratory is one of the most valuable tools for a criminal investigator, it is not intended to replace field investigators," he said. "The investigator must be familiar with the types of evidence subject to laboratory analysis. Even the most minute and seemingly insignificant pieces of evidence may be subject to laboratory analysis.
"If investigators are not aware of a laboratory's capabilities, critical pieces of evidence can go uncollected, unprocessed, and unused in substantiating guilt or innocence," he added. "Because the analysis of evidence is not better than the samples submitted, crime scene investigators play an important role in the success of scientific analysis."
Classes using the new lab include Criminalistics - An Introduction to Forensic Science, Crime Scene Investigation and Criminal Investigation.
To find out more about RLC's Criminal Justice Program or the new forensic science laboratory, call 618-437-5321, Ext. 1278 or visit the college on-line at www.rlc.edu.