In compliance with a congressional mandate intended to produce an assessment of the needs of forensic service providers beyond the DNA initiative, this report presents the opinions of representative forensic organizations on this issue.
This report is a compilation of the reports given by four major forensic science organizations at a summit held in Washington, DC, on May 18-19, 2004. In assessing the needs of local and State forensic labs and medical examiners, the report focuses on personnel and equipment needs; continuing education; professionalism and accreditation standards; and collaboration among Federal, State, and local forensic service providers. The report 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, blood pattern analysis, crime scene investigation, medicolegal death investigations, and digital evidence. First and foremost, the forensic service organizations identified personnel needs, as well as education and training for new forensic scientists, as long-standing problems. Every forensic discipline reports short falls of personnel qualified to replace retiring examiners or to meet increasing case workloads. Minimum training and proficiency standards for all disciplines are recommended. Also mentioned in this report is the need to improve the scientific bases for specific forensic disciplines. Scientific research and the publication of best practices guides can improve the practice and acceptance of the forensic disciplines. Each of the forensic service organizations supports the creation of a Forensic Science Commission to review the needs of the forensic science community over the long term at the Federal, State, and local levels. 16 references