Analysis of An FBI Training Film on Physical Evidence

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FBI training film
Symbol of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

A YouTube presentation caught my interest. The 20-minute video is entitled, FBI Physical Evidence Training Film – 1960s. An FBI training film!

The presentation is dry as bones, yet from a forensic viewpoint it is clear and informative. I give my thoughts concerning the video, below. Before considering those, however, please watch the video.

First Impressions

The professionalism, the careful gathering and cataloging of evidence, was really striking, as was the scope of the work. I was favorably impressed. No wonder so few cases in which the FBI is called in on end up in rejection of their findings. But there are a few things I feel that are worthy of consideration that modify how one might look at the presentation.

On Further Consideration

The scene was a burglary during the night at a home of some dining area silverware pieces. The husband was alerted by his wife. On investigating, he was rendered helpless by the thief, who then left. Was there anything curious about all of this?

Would one expect the FBI to investigate a simple theft of a few household items? Not ordinarily. In addition, would thousands of dollars worth of time and expense have been invested in the recovery of a few silver items? Was the instruction of sufficient depth for the training of FBI agents? I’ve had no forensic training, though I am a chemist, and the information seemed too simple, too basic to me.


Am I grumbling about the video, then, merely finding fault? Not at all. I did enjoy it, and I did see some moments of insight into things I would not have thought of. For instance, the flashlight used in the crime had no fingerprints on it. I wouldn’t have thought to look for prints on the batteries. Things like that.

Tool marks on the door striker plate produced in the act of breaking and entering would never have crossed my mind as important. Perhaps because the marks would relate more to achieving a conviction than in discovering the culprit. Perhaps this is the fault of the entertainment world. TV detective shows are artificial, because they concentrate on identifying and catching the criminal act, rather than in putting the perpetrator squarely behind bars.

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