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Monday, March 20, 2006

The purpose of the Detail is to help keep you informed of the current state of affairs in the latent print community, to provide an avenue to circulate original fingerprint-related articles, and to announce important events as they happen in our field.
Breaking NEWz you can UzE...
compiled by Jon Stimac

Fingerprint Worker Who Backed McKie on TV Faces Inquiry
  SCOTSMAN, UK - March 17, 2006 ...a fingerprint worker who spoke out in support of Shirley McKie is facing disciplinary action...

Fingerprint the Breakthrough LONDON FREE PRESS, CANADA - March 16, 2006 ...after 21 robberies, police arrest the so-called Camouflage Bandit...

Liberty Lake Fingers Suspect   SPOKESMAN REVIEW, WA - March 15, 2006 ...print links man to car break-in...

Crime Scene Prints ID'd as Suspect's   REPUBLICAN, MA - March 14, 2006 ...two fingerprints found on an outside door handle match those of murder defendant...

Recent CLPEX Posting Activity
Last Week's Board topics containing new posts
Moderated by Steve Everist

The price of truth
Iain McKie 395 19 Mar 2006 05:14 pm

Gift Tag a Forgery
mark twain 27 19 Mar 2006 11:07 am

Job Announcement
jbyrd 42 18 Mar 2006 12:14 am

Pilot study on simultaneous (cluster) impressions
John P. Black 1263 17 Mar 2006 08:08 pm

Need help finding information about the Rojas murder case
Heather Baxter 275 17 Mar 2006 02:18 am

Processing w/powders vs. dye stains post Superglue
susan 232 16 Mar 2006 04:58 pm

Job Announcement
moorel 112 16 Mar 2006 02:59 pm

Processing Cigarettes
M Semler 297 15 Mar 2006 11:54 am

'Spinning out of control'
charlton97 570 14 Mar 2006 04:49 pm


No major updates on the website this week.


Last week

we looked at transcripts from Dr. Itiel Dror's interview with the BBC.

This week

we look at the final report of the U.S. 180 day study and report to Congress on forensic science needs.

Status and Needs of Forensic Science Service Providers: A Report to Congress

"180-day study" results

The complete 34 page report can be found online at:

Highlights related to general forensics and latent print examination from the 8-page Executive Summary:


The 2004 Consolidated Appropriations Act, H.R. 2673 requires the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) to transmit to Congress a report addressing the needs of forensic service providers beyond the DNA Initiative (see Advancing Justice Through DNA Technology, available on or Specifically, the act states:

Improving Forensic Capabilities - The National Institute of Justice (NIJ), in conjunction with its own Office of Science & Technology, the American Society of Crime Lab Directors, the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, the International Association for Identification, and the National Association of Medical Examiners, is directed to develop a plan which will address the needs of the crime lab and medical examiner community beyond the "DNA Initiative" and report back to the Committees on Appropriations no later than 180 days from the date of enactment of this Act. The report should address the following: (1) manpower and equipment needs, (2) continuing education policies, (3) professionalism and accreditation standards, and (4) the level of collaboration needed between Federal forensic science labs and State/local forensic science Labs for the administration of justice.

Over the course of four months, NIJ collaborated with each of the organizations named by Congress, including the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS), the American Association of Crime Laboratory Directors (ASCLD), the International Association for Identification (IAI), and the National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME). At a summit held in Washington, D.C., on May 18-19, 2004, each organization presented their formal comments. The summit also included input from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) concerning the data contained in their reports, 50 Largest Crime Labs 2002 and Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories, which surveyed 350 labs and is not yet published.

The findings in this report represent the opinions of the forensic community presented at the summit, not necessarily the views of the Department of Justice or the National Institute of Justice. The summit reports, presentations, agenda, and participant list can be found on the National Institute of Justice Web site at

This study covers a wide range of forensic disciplines, including general toxicology, firearms/toolmarks, questioned documents, trace evidence, controlled substances, biological/serological screening, fire debris/arson analysis, impression evidence (e.g., fingerprints, shoe/tire prints), blood pattern analysis, crime scene investigation, medicolegal death investigation, and digital evidence. It should be noted that not all forensic services are performed in what is thought of as a traditional crime laboratory. Forensic services in the disciplines of digital evidence, latent prints, questioned documents, and crime scene investigation may also be provided at a site outside of the traditional crime laboratory setting by a unit composed of sworn law enforcement personnel who may or may not have scientific training. Thus, this report may not represent a complete view of the needs and challenges of those particular forensic disciplines. (...)

Further, all summit participants agreed that there was insufficient time to develop quantifiable data. The conclusions are larely the opinions of local, state and federal forensic science practitioners who participated directly in the study. Thus, it is not possible to present a full and complete picture in certain areas. (...)

Forensic Community Recommendations

The forensic services enjoy great visibility and respect among the public today. Popular television shows depict the crime laboratory as an important and exciting endeavor, and young people are choosing to study forensic science in college in unprecedented numbers. (...)

Nonetheless, crime laboratories face several important challenges. First and foremost, the forensic service organizations identified personnel needs, as well as education and training for new forensic scientists, as long-standing problems. Although it is difficult to quantify these needs, every forensic discipline believes that it faces shortfalls of personnel qualified to replace retiring examiners or meet increasing case workloads. In addition, examiners should be required to meet minimum training and proficiency standards in all disciplines. The 1999 NIJ report, Forensic Sciences: Review and Status of Needs, contained recommendations concerning training needs that are still valid, according to ASCLD.

Also, the forensic service organizations recognize the need to improve the understanding of the scientific foundations of specific disciplines. DNA analysis has a fully characterized statistical and scientific basis, in that the uniqueness of one individual's DNA profile can be quantified and presented with great accuracy. Scientific research and the publication of best practices guides can improve the practice and acceptance of the forensic disciplines.


Manpower and Equipment

Manpower shortages are the biggest concern of the forensic community and directly impact on the ability of crime laboratories to address casework backlogs. (...) ASCLD estimates that equipment needs for the 50 largest crime laboratories in the disciplines of controlled substances, trace evidence, firearms, questioned documents, latent prints, toxicology and arson exceeds $18 million. ASCLD also recommended that a reliable process be established to monitor the manpower and equipment needs of the forensic community on an ongoing basis.


In general, the forensic science community is concerned about improving its capacity, an issue that relates to manpower and equipment, as well as other issues covered in this study. The organizations support the continuation or expansion of Coverdell funding to support specific needs, including: fingerprint identification systems, alternate light sources, vehicles, training, accreditation and certification, and photo and digital imaging equipment. (...) Other forensic community recommendations include:

* Crime laboratories need dedicated staff to support quality assurance and accreditation programs.

* Certain forensic disciplines appear to have important manpower shortfalls, including crime scene processing, digital evidence analysis, latent fingerprint examination, firearms examination, document analysis, and toxicology.

* The FBI should increase the number of Universal Latent Workstations to state and local law enforcement so that the full capacity of the International [sic] Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) may be utilized.

* The federal government should work to ensure interoperability among automated fingerprint identification systems (AFIS) of different manufacture, as well as the interoperability of these systems with IAFIS.

* Through the Forensic Science Commission or another means, forensic science providers outside crime laboratories should be identified and advised of professional and governmental assistance programs.

Continuing Education

The forensic community reports that training needs are significant across all disciplines. This includes training of novices and continuing education for experienced professionals. (...)

The Technical Working Group on Education and Training (TWGED) recommended that between 1 and 3 percent of the total forensic science laboratory budget be allocated for training and continuing professional development. Preliminary data reported by BJS from its crime laboratory census showed that the training and continuing education budgets of the largest 50 laboratories in the United States were actually less than one-half of 1 percent of their total budgets. To close this gap, according to forensic science organizations, the federal government should provide grants for continuing education and training academies for the forensic sciences. (...)

Some options to address the training needs of forensic examiners and managers include traditional face-to-face or hands-on training, collaborations, and alternative delivery systems such as electronic media. Regional centers would be suited for expanding the scope and delivery of training programs. Also, professional models for training and establishing competency should be encouraged. The forensic science community should consider methods to encourage quality graduate education in forensic science. ASCLD suggested that a program to eliminate or forgive student loans for graduates who obtain full-time employment in public forensic science laboratories be considered. Other forensic community recommendations include:

* Minimum standards should be established for each forensic discipline for equipment, techniques, training and documentation. These standards should include testing of personnel to confirm minimum competency. In particular, NIJ and FBI should collaborate with their scientific working groups to generate and implement standards throughout the forensic sciences.

* The FBI should increase the number of Universal Latent Workstation systems to state and local law enforcement so that the full capacity of the International Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) may be utilized.

* Forensic science training programs at the FBI should be "reactivated" (IAI) or expanded.

* Tuition assistance should be provided to encourage enrollment in university forensic science degree programs.

Professionalism and Accreditation Standards

Each of the forensic science organizations support the exploration of mandatory accreditation of organizations and certification of practitioners. (...)

The organizations also support funding to support the quality assurance programs to help labs attain accreditation. Maintaining and increasing professionalism within the forensic science community is critical to the delivery of quality services. Professionalism is enhanced by demonstrating compliance with quality assurance measures such as laboratory accreditation and practitioner certification. Unfortunately, many laboratories are confronted with budgets that are insufficient to meet caseload demands and at the same time support participation in accreditation and certification programs. Costs associated with accreditation and certification programs include proficiency testing and inspection fees, at a minimum. Dedicated personnel are needed to support participation in such programs, and examiners need to be given the same time away from casework to participate in proficiency testing programs.

The Forensic Science Commission can identify strategies to address these needs in coordination with ongoing activities, especially those in NIJ and the FBI.

Collaboration Among Federal, State and Local Forensic Service Providers

Federal laboratories collaborate with State and local forensic service providers in many ways. They provide leadership and resources for research, training and technology transfer. Federal laboratories also maintain and support investigative databases for firearms, fingerprints, and DNA. The FBI has provided onsite training and online training via its Virtual Academy. Over the years, the forensic science organizations maintain that the FBI has decreased training available to State and local agencies. The forensic community would like the Federal forensic science training programs to expand to meet current and future needs. Specifically, they recommend:

* The federal government must strengthen the support given to crime labs and other crime scene/disaster scene first responders with respect to terrorism or other events that might result in mass casualties, including support for training, equipment and coordination activities. Of particular concern is the training of crime scene responders in the safe handling of evidence that may be contaminated with biological, chemical, or radiological material.

* Forensic service providers need greater awareness of state and federal assistance and programs, especially those outside the traditional crime laboratory.

* The federal government should conduct scientific research to improve the practice of forensic science and address emerging technology challenges from criminals, particularly in the area of electronic crime. The federal government should also play a leading role in advocating interoperability and information sharing, such as in automated fingerprint identification systems.

Research and Development

Although Congress did not specifically ask for input concerning research and development needs, each of the forensic science organizations outlined specific needs for improved scientific understanding and technology to serve the forensic community. In particular, the following needs were outlined:

* Basic research is needed into the scientific underpinning of impression evidence, (especially fingerprint evidence, but also footwear and tire track evidence), questioned documents, and firearms/toolmark examination.

* NIJ should continue its program to develop a fast live scan device to collect forensic quality fingerprints and palm prints. NIJ is currently soliciting research and development proposals for this technology.

* The federal government should sponsor research to validate forensic science disciplines to address basic principles, error rates, and standards of procedure

* Crime laboratories need tools to improve speed and efficiency, extend forensic analysis to more difficult samples, and support the full range of forensic techniques. Technology is needed to improve evidence collection, crime scene analysis, field testing of drugs and other material for investigative purposes.


The forensic sciences community believes that it needs additional attention. The Forensic Science Commission should help provide national leadership by monitoring the needs of the forensic science community on an ongoing basis. The Commission will bring together providers and end users of forensic services to address issues raised in this report that affect the quality and timeliness of our Nation's forensic services. The Commission should consider issues that affect all disciplines of the forensic sciences to make recommendations to improve public safety through maximizing the use of forensic evidence. Its multidisciplinary membership will facilitate the development of strategic partnerships that represent diverse opinions and perspectives, including those of law enforcement, practitioners, academicians, attorneys, judges, and ethicists. Such partnerships will be able to contemplate in a public forum complex issues that affect the furtherance and advancement of forensic practice. It is recognized that a number of social, ethical, legal and policy issues may arise as a result of effectively and efficiently implementing recommendations for enhancing our Nation's forensic service providers. However, the NIJ and the forensic organizations are confident that the Forensic Commission will serve to provide a cognitive process by which criminal justice professionals and the public can openly and fully deliberate these critical matters.

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Have a GREAT week!