Those of us who braved Ottawa’s February weather for ORWA’s meeting got a real treat. Sgt. Garneau of the Ottawa Police show us how he can use even the tiniest traces of blood to build up a timeline of events and prove whether or not a suspect was at the scene.
He explained that no one can enter a space without both picking up trace evidence and leaving other trace evidence behind. The crime scene team can tell other officers what to look for in a suspect based on the trace evidence they find, but when they find blood, they call for Sgt. Garneau.
He shared amusing anecdotes about how the protective “bunny suit” gear can get very uncomfortable and hot, leading to some creative wardrobe choices underneath. The suits are used to prevent contaminating the scenes and envelope the officer head to toe. He also shared some his frustrations with forensic crime shows, particularly how the cops in those shows will interview suspects personally, something he never does.
He walked us through the different types of bloodstains: passive, transfer and projected/impact stains. Passive is when the blood simply falls as directed by gravity. Transfer is when another object leaves blood residue or drops on another surface or object. And projected stains have force behind them. All of these different types tell their own story, allowing an expert to use even the smallest drops to recreate the chain of events.
He showed us videos of Luminol-lit crime scenes and how the chemical reacts with bleach-tainted blood. He showed how he uses experiments to recreate spatter patterns when it’s not obvious how a particular stain was created. And he shared stories of triumph where suspects weren’t quite as good at removing stains from walls, floors and their personal items as they thought they were.
The work is meticulous, requiring equal devotion to scientific rigour and justice. Several times, Sgt. Garneau emphasized that his job is not to build a case for one side or the other, but simply to find out the truth. His answers to our questions revealed impressive knowledge, a keen sense of humour, and his dedication to revealing what criminals have attempted to keep hidden.
Next month, ORWA’s own Linda Poitevin will be sharing the secrets of making Wattpad work for authors. Sunday, March 5th, from 2:30 to 4:30 at 101 Centrepointe, room 1A, opposite the library. ORWA will also be beginning a new feature for members: a regular brainstorming session between our general meeting and the workshop. Our general meeting will begin at 1 and the brainstorming session will begin at 1:30. See you there!