The St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s Office aims to make crime response more efficient by adding a mobile crime scene unit. It turns a transport van into a crime scene analysis hub that helps investigators save time getting equipment to parish crime scenes.
Crime scene investigation and processing requires many tools.
Markers, flags and spray paint to show evidence. Boots and protective clothing to prevent contamination. fingerprint powder; a casting material for collecting footprints and tire tread impressions; Various types of containers and bags for storing evidence.
Then there are the larger items like portable lights and privacy partitions.
You may not know what you’ll need in the field until you need it, so you’ll need a variety of equipment, said Lt. says.
In 2022, the St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s Office converted a prison transport van to transform the department’s vehicle into a crime scene mobile unit.
The van is equipped with shelving and storage and is currently housed in the agency’s public safety facility at the intersection of the Maine and Cypress Island highways. According to Turner, inside there are the tools and equipment mentioned above plus much more as new needs are added.
Detectives keep certain essentials in the unit, but before the Mobile Crime Scene Unit was established, larger items such as metal detectors and magnets to dredge water bodies for discarded weapons were common. It was divided between detective units or kept in one. An adult detective superintendent sergeant at various facilities in the sheriff’s office. Vicky Lagrange said.
If a tool is needed and the person holding it is not on scene, that person will either be diverted from another job to deliver it, or the investigator will be left manless at the scene to collect it. They said they would need to send someone for…
Having a mobile unit saves time.
“This is a big improvement because the time has come. Time is of the essence,” Turner said. Now all in one vehicle of his. You can use that time to process the scene and gather evidence. “
Efficiency and time maximization are important for agencies covering divided parishes, they said.
The Parish of Saint Martin is divided into Upper and Lower Saint Martins, split in two by the Iberian Parish. It can take an hour or more to reach the crime scene in Lower St Martin. If you forget your main equipment, it will take 2 hours round trip to retrieve it. That time could delay the investigation, Turner said.
“We have rules that we have to follow. Once you get a search warrant for a property, when you leave that property you have to give it up and get another search warrant. If it’s not there and I have to go back, I’ll have to get another search warrant,” Turner said.
Beyond major cases such as homicides, whether a mobile crime scene unit is needed often depends on the amount of evidence to be processed and the location of the crime, LaGrange said. They said the parish has a fair amount of rural areas, which often requires tools such as portable lights.
When a van is needed, the most conveniently located detective will pick it up on the way to the crime scene. Once the scene is cleared, the supervisor in charge of the scene will inspect the supplies used and ensure the van is restocked, they said.
When out in the field, the van doubles as a mobile office and workspace, shielding computers and other sensitive tools and evidence from the elements as investigators perform initial analytical work. says LaGrange.
“There’s more room in case something needs to be done,” she said.