Last week the Columbus Police Department Crime Lab gifted Mississippi State University with a super glue chamber to be used as an educational device for its forensics program. A super glue chamber is a tall rectangular box where large guns such as rifles and shotguns can be placed to recover fingerprints.
According to Crime Lab director Austin Shepherd, fingerprints are approximately 95% composed of moisture. So forensic scientists can put a gun into the super glue chamber, rehydrate fingerprint residue using humidity controls, and locate fingerprint impressions.
The super glue itself is a reactionary agent of the fingerprint moisture. In describing the process, Shepherd explains, “Then the super glue heats up, turns into a gas and interacts with the moisture in the print that polymerizes the print and the print will turn like a really bright white. It’ll be pretty much permanent.”
The chamber, which comes equipped with a build-in filter to prevent against potentially harmful super glues fumes, can also process other crime scene materials like shell casings, latex gloves, and other weapons.
The Crime Lab decided to donate the super glue chamber after it received a new one a few months ago. Shepherd is confident that the contribution will facilitate a closer relationship with MSU while also helping to better prepare future forensic scientists. Right now MSU does not offer forensic major option but it does provide a biochemistry major option that includes a concentration in forensic science.
And although Shepherd acknowledges that forensic science programs are more popular than ever, thanks in part to binge-worthy crime shows like C.S.I., he points out that few programs possess a super glue chamber. Shepherd hopes the addition of the super glue chamber will further attract students in the forensic science field and expresses interest in hiring MSU graduates for his Crime Lab team in the near future.