This eighth episode of the Forensic Advancement season of the National Institute of Justice's (NIJ's) Just Science podcast series consists of an interivew with Ron Smith, a 45-year veteran of latent print analysis and the current president of Ron Smith Associates, who discusses a shift in the role of the forensic scientist in the criminal justice system.
He believes that being an expert witness, exhibiting fairness, and staying current are now the most important aspects of being a forensic scientist. Because of his many years of involvement in forensic science and particularly latent print examination, he discusses the evolution of training for this field from apprenticeships to standardized national academy training under the sponsorship of Ron Smith and Associates, a Mississippi-based company that provides training, consulting, and proficiency-testing services to the forensic community. In discussing the paradigm shift for latent print examiners, he notes that they must not only incorporate in their work the latest scientific knowledge relevant to their field, but also commit to fairness and clarity in explaining their procedures and findings to jurors in a way they can understand. This means that training and casework management for latent print examiners must also focus on how best to communicate their scientific procedures and findings to those unfamiliar with the practices and vocabulary of their highly specialized field.