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Organizational and Environmental Determinants of Ballistics Imaging Productivity in United States Crime Laboratories

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This study used a structural contingency theory framework to assess the influence of the formal organizational structure of crime laboratories and their environments on the productivity of labs' ballistics imaging systems.
This study contributes to the nascent evolution of organizational focus in forensics while exploring different ways in which overall lab performance can be conceptualized. It analyzed data provided by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' (ATF) National Integrated Ballistics Information Network (NIBIN), as well as data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics' Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories, 2009. Three Negative Binomial models regressed the organizational and environmental variables on the productivity of crime labs, operationalized as their ability to produce bullet, brass, and total hits. Results indicate that in addition to the number of bullet and brass inputs, local labs are more productive in identifying ballistics imaging hits. In addition, larger labs with a greater proportion of firearms requests and the ability to process those requests produced more hits. Although the current research did not find that organizational structure significantly predicted labs' productivity, the importance of the population of bullet and brass inputs was evident. Also, jurisdiction played a vital role in the production of hits. (publisher abstract modified)
Date Created: January 28, 2021