This article describes an extended training program for beginning latent fingerprint examiners.
Prospective trainees completed a visual acuity assessment online under the supervision of a proctor. This assessment was designed to measure each person’s ability to identify specific criteria, such as fine detail, including gradients and pattern similarities and differences. Results of the assessment were evaluated by an independent panel of pattern-evidence examiners and were used partly to determine acceptance into the training program. The selected students received training from nine instructors over the course of 9 months. There were 10 sessions and 472 hours of training. At the end of the program, all 15 trainees achieved scores of 80 percent or better on individual course assessments and on the comprehensive overall program assessment. On a three-part mock International Association for Identification exam, trainees achieved average grades of 85.4 percent on the written assessment, 98.4 percent on pattern recognition, and 76.8 percent on comparisons. Prior to the National Institute of Justice’s (NIJ’s funding of this type of “immersion” training, examiner trainees had to search for single-unit courses offered at various agencies, which could take years to achieve the same knowledge and skill acquired in this training program. At the time of the writing of this article, the next training program was to be held in the fall of 2011. The National Forensic Science Technology Center is the host for the training, and the information on its training programs is provided on its Web site.
Date Published: August 1, 2011
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