"We're glad to be getting this piece of equipment," he said. "All the
agencies are pushing for it because of its convenience. It will free us
up to focus more on things that we once weren't able to because of lack
of time and manpower."
The Fountain Valley crime lab mainly functions as a processing area
for latent prints and preservation, Aoki said.
The addition of the bar-code tracking system will streamline the
property division, essentially making paperless the process of booking
"Usually, the officer would have to write a property or inventory
report card for each piece of evidence," Aoki said. "He would then have
to take it to the property clerk, who would transfer the information to
our records management system. From there, we have it documented
With the new bar-code system, Aoki said, the evidence is simply
scanned. A bar-code sticker will identify every item and its history so
it can be followed wherever it goes.
Police Chief Elvin Miali said the new device is just another step in
the the department's quest for the latest crime-fighting technologies.
"The bar-coding will be beneficial because it will help us maintain
the chain of evidence," he said. "We're always looking to see what is new
on the market and if we find something we are interested in, we have a
vendor come out and demonstrate it."
Sgt. Jim Perry said it is important to keep officers as well-versed as
possible and to keep working toward having a fully equipped crime lab.
"Sometimes, we still have to use the Orange County crime lab for
certain homicide cases," he said. "We want to get it to a stage where we
don't have to rely on anyone. We're close to that now."
Miali said the crime lab has been the mainstay in solving numerous
"The lab allows us to get to the suspect as soon as possible," he
said. "It has also allowed us to improve the training of our officers
because it helps them to know what to look for and obtain the evidence."
The crime lab has undergone many changes in recent years.
Its photo lab has been converted to digital imaging, which not only
saves time but gives officers more flexibility now that they carry
digital cameras, Aoki said.
Digital photography eliminates the time needed to process film because
images can be loaded directly onto a computer.
"Basically, our responsibilities are the conservation of the evidence
-- hairs, fibers and blood, " Aoki said.
"The digital revolution is contributing to the proper preservation and
utilization of a proper chain of custody [maintaining the integrity of a
piece of evidence].
"This is important because you want to be able to show that the
evidence is untainted."