How does wearing latex gloves keep fingerprints from being destroyed?
March 10, 2012 6:10 PM   Subscribe

In pretty much every detective show I've seen, people at the crime scene wear latex gloves in order to protect any fingerprints that might be around. My question is, how does this keep fingerprints from smearing? Given that the fingerprints are just oil residue left behind, how does wearing a glove keep the oil from being displaced and ultimately destroying the fingerprint
posted by mulligan to Law & Government (5 answers total)
It was my impression they wear gloves to not contaminate the seen with their fingerprints.
posted by birdherder at 6:15 PM on March 10, 2012

Best answer: I asked a policeman that once. He said no, you still have to avoid touching the fingerprints. So even with gloves, you hold things by their edges and so on. But the gloves stop your OWN fingerprints from getting mixed in with the others. It would be a pain for the fingerprints people to have to rule out the prints of the people who worked at the crime scene every time.
posted by lollusc at 6:15 PM on March 10, 2012 [5 favorites]

Yup. It's not to protect the fingerprints that are already there; it's to avoid adding more.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:21 PM on March 10, 2012

Also, DNA can sometimes be recovered even from smudged fingerprints, so you don't want investigators contaminating those.
posted by paulg at 6:26 PM on March 10, 2012

what the others said. If a cop's fingerprints are at a scene then it brings into question the path of evidence and thus the viability of the accusations brought on by the state.
posted by zombieApoc at 6:42 PM on March 10, 2012

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