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The Viability of Virtual Peer Review and Microscopic Verification Versus Traditional On-site Review

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2019, $611,226)

The Firearms/Toolmark Identification discipline of the Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory Division (WSPCLD) presents this proposal to address Goal 2 of the grant: Evaluating Emerging Methods. WPSCLD proposes to evaluate the emerging method of virtual peer review and microscopic verification by comparing this method to the on-site peer review/verification processes currently used to accomplish the same purpose in publicly funded forensic laboratories. This will be achieved by installing digital comparison microscopes with Integrated Ballistics Identification System/ National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (IBIS/NIBIN) interface capabilities instrumentation that is new to the laboratories and field in four Firearms/Toolmark Identification laboratories. Laboratory locations include: WSPCLD Firearms/Toolmark Laboratory Seattle, WA WSPCLD Firearms/Toolmark Laboratory Tacoma, WA WSPCLD Firearms/Toolmark Laboratory Cheney/Spokane, WA WSPCLD Firearms/Toolmark Laboratory Vancouver, WA With digital comparison microscopes installed in each of the four laboratories, it is possible to link the microscopes using a secure network to transfer images and remotely control the microscopes; making real time, inter-lab verification and peer review possible. The intent of this study is to inform the forensic community of best practices in the Firearms/Toolmark Identification Discipline through the evaluation of existing laboratory protocols regarding on-site peer review/verification in comparison to emerging methods. The proposed study will address a research gap. The final research report produced at the conclusion of the performance period will assist WSPCL in making laboratory policy decisions regarding peer review/verification requirements. The Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory Division (WSPD) budget does not allow for examiner time and technology required to complete the proposed study. Without outside resources, this study cannot be completed. WSPCLD respectfully requests $611,226 of FY19 Research and Evaluation for the Testing and Interpretation of Physical Evidence in Publicly Funded Forensic Laboratories grant funds to make this study possible. Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law, and complies with Part 200 Uniform Requirements - 2 CFR 200.210(a)(14).

Date Created: September 13, 2019