Students enrolled in Moose Jaw's Citizens' Police Academy had a chance to learn about forensics Thursday night at the downtown police station.

The session was led by Forensic Identification Specialist Constable Evan Schwabe, who has been on the job since 2019. He spent about two and half months training in Ottawa, which focused on crime scene photography and fingerprint identification. The training also discussed how to properly process a crime scene. Schwabe served as a patrol officer with the Moose Jaw Police Service for five years before joining the forensic identification unit in 2019.

He says the biggest thing, when it comes to fingerprints, is that each one is unique.

"When we go to crime scenes and find a fingerprint, we photograph it and then send it away to Ottawa. It gets compared to the national database. Anyone, who's ever been fingerprinted for being charged with a criminal offense, they're on the database, so then they match up that print we found at the crime scene to the one on the database."

Schwabe notes a lot of the work has gone digital now.

"We find the print, we develop it. You enhance that print and make it look really good in programs like Photoshop and then it gets sent to Ottawa where they use computer programs there to compare it with the database and then it comes back to us and we do the actual identification on another computer program. It's all pretty handy and technology is pretty good."

Fingerprints are used quite often in solving crimes in Moose Jaw, with local police sending prints to Ottawa at least once a week.

CSIConstable Evan Schwabe says TV shows like CSI are fairly accurate

Schwabe was asked about the believability of TV shows like CSI.

"In many ways, they're very similar," he replied. "A lot of the chemicals we use to develop fingerprints, the powders, the crazy glue fuming, the DNA collection, the hair sample collection. Things like that are very accurate. It's just the timelines on a TV show. Usually, they get things solved fairly quickly, where our timelines might take weeks or months to solve the crime."

He says criminals always make a mistake and it's up to police to find out what that mistake is.

"Obviously they're not trying to get caught, so they may wear gloves but there's often times where a shoeprint or DNA, they cut themselves and leave a blood drop. We've solved cases like that too. It's not always just getting a fingerprint. There's other things that can help us catch these people and hold them accountable."

Schwabe says solving a crime using fingerprints or DNA is a big rush.

"It's a pretty rewarding feeling because sometimes that's all you have to go on and you don't have any suspects and then you get that one fingerprint or two fingerprints or maybe you get a DNA sample and it comes back to the suspect and you're able to hold somebody accountable and charge them based on that science."

Students enrolled in the Citizens' Police Academy have two sessions remaining:

May 4 - Victim Services along with service dog Sven, Community and Strategic Services presentation, Drones
May 11 - Tactical Response Team presentation, firearms