Q&A: Why didn’t they dust for prints?

While we’re still on fingerprint-related topic, I’d like to touch on the question raised by the following person:

I had my house broken into one day while I was out with my wife. I discovered that some of our stuff were missing, but fortunately our valuables were well hidden away. We called the police immediately and waited for them to arrive. A pair of officers came. One of them looked around, presumably to assess the crime scene, while the other took down our statements. I noticed that the officer that was looking around did not dust for any fingerprints. They left after taking down our report.

Is this normal? How come it was nothing like I see on CSI?

To answer your question, hate to disappoint you, but yes. Many people assumed that what they see on TV is exactly as it is in real life – officers would come and dust for prints at every single crime scene. Unfortunately, in the real world, we need to consider the practicality of the situation. There’s the issue of lack of manpower, training, time, budget and priorities.

In spite all their best efforts, not every law enforcement agency in any country is able to afford either time or equipment to perform these tasks. Partly because they are either understaffed or some of their officers lack the required training for crime-scene work. Also, assess the level of seriousness of the crime (not to belittle the victim) – if there are no serious injuries or if the amount that was stolen was below minimum, then it does not require a full processing… unless there’s a homicide involved. With regards to this method as requiring a certain luxury of manpower, certainly its effective usage is reserved for cases which are more than trivial.

So to reiterate, it all boils down to common sense and practicality when utilizing personnels and equipments for the application of these methods. Furthermore, the costs of which must be considered when dealing with minor cases as processing a crime scene can be taxing and time consuming. However that doesn’t mean you should be discouraged from reporting a break-in to your friendly neighbourhood lawmen, you must. There will be the day when the perp responsible will get apprehended at another scene of crime, and your report could help if it’s related.

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5 responses to “Q&A: Why didn’t they dust for prints?

  1. regular ppl like us must remember tht things are not as easy as in those movies or tv series. if it is, they’l be no more crime! and it does not just happen in msia. even here in the US, they dont dust for prints on all cases. i kno they dont dust for prints when we reported abt our stolen bike and im fine w tht. there’s a lot more worse crimes out there and we’r lucky tht only the bike was stolen and tht we are SAFE!

    on another note, i realise tht msian in general always compare our pdrm with those tv series cops. they take the series too seriously and think tht theyr smart enough to do the job. if thts the case, why didn they become a cop themselves, right? msian are lucky tht we only have to pay our cops rm1200/mth (i think they get waaaayy less than tht) to make sure our lives run smoother. i wish our gov can pay them at least rm2500/mth. 😉

  2. Thanks for commenting, Farina! Yes, it’s the same situation here in the UK too.

    I think our PDRM is trying their best to accommodate the public’s need for crime prevention. But as for the training and qualifications, not everyone can make it – different country different administration and regulations. Malaysia and Australia (if I’m not mistaken) share the similarities that to become a forensic officer dealing directly with crime scenes, you need to go through the whole nine yards of police training. And sadly, not many ppl are keen on the idea of becoming a police officer.

  3. yeah..do not ever believe what you seen on TV!!those CSI really getting me worried.

    i heard that our PDRM is one of the best forensic analyst in the world. they might be equipt with best machines and stuff but yeah, lack of training and pendekatan to the crime scene world can be one of the reasons why this thing happened.

    anyway, hope by the time ‘we’ graduating, PDRM has been awarded as one of the most succesful police department in the world… + what Farina said..payment RM2500/..

    can arr??:P

  4. If ppl want to watch real police procedural, Astro offers access to Crime channel (which I hope is included in the subscription). There’s a series called “The Real CSI“, which I thought is really good. I’ve seen a couple of episodes, I’m not sure if they screen it on the Crime channel, but if they do, watch that. There’s also a series called “Forensic Files” that’s very good as well.

    I have nothing against TV entertainment nor the ever popular CSI franchise, but it’s quite worrying when ppl take these shows for gospel truth and solid scientific facts. TV/film shows tend to distort or exaggerate the truth for the sake of entertainment and glamour, otherwise their stories won’t come across half as interesting. I’ve met ppl who sincerely believe that they could be knowledgeable experts just from watching these shows faithfully, it’s quite disconcerting really.

    On the bright side, it’s great that the CSI franchise help generate some public interest in crime science.

    I really have no idea about PDRM’s reputation as one of the best forensic analyst in the world. I’ll look into that.

    Despite their flaws, I think PDRM needs some positive support from the public, and that goes to any law agencies in any part of the world – they all need support from the public that they have sworn to protect.

  5. I have also seen some good Forensic Shows, Crime 360 ( thats in canada I don’t know about other countries though ) It’s a better version of the First 48 – the First 48 is good but it focuses more on detective work – crime 360 focuses on all aspects of Forensic Investigations and focuses more on forensics than detective work.

    I wish I knew about this blog a long time ago!

    Great Job!

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