A collaboration between Grand Canyon University forensic science students and the Phoenix Police Department Crime Lab generated a new shoeprint database will assist crime investigators in identifying shoe impressions left at crime scenes, Cronkite News reports. “I was spending countless hours looking on the internet trying to find these impressions, and I thought it would be much nicer to have a searchable database to go to,” said Kyle Mueller, a Phoenix police forensic scientist who supervises trace evidence analysis. The crime lab analyzes such evidence as gunshot residue, footwear and tire tread impression, and fiber and fire debris. Forensic scientists can identify shoeprints left at crime scenes, including the type of shoe and what size the suspect wears. Mueller lacked the time and staff to go to stores and analyze new shoes to input in a database. He reached out to the university, which asked forensic science students to collect shoe information.
Until the database is up and running, Phoenix police forensic scientists rely on Google searches and such websites as Zappos to search for the latest shoes. Mueller said he had the idea for a local database about five years ago, but made progress only within the past six months. The database remains under development. “It’s been great working with the students because they’ve taken my idea and taken it to another level,” he said. The initial goal was just to get students to go out with cameras and take photos, Mueller said, but they’ve also created standard operating procedures and training programs, along with learning to operate photo and staging equipment. The students scour stores to find new shoes to analyze and add to the database. They also created a glossary with definitions of tread patterns.