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Impact of Research and Development on Lab Efficiency and Operations

Forensic science research and development is critical to improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the nation's crime laboratories. Watch how the National Institute of Justice takes an idea from a need to a reality in the laboratory. 

You may also be interested in our video Why Is There an Evidence Backlog?

You may be asking yourself, how does research affects evidence processing and analysis within crime labs?

Why should you care?

Let’s take a look.
This is Steve; Steve is a Scientist in the crime lab.

He processes evidence for police departments in the area.

They constantly bring him evidence as advanced technology has made it easier to detect and collect evidence at a crime scene.

Even with all of the modern technology and advanced processes available to him, Steve is unable to keep up with the demand.

In addition to evidence from current cases, cold case detectives want him to analyze older evidence using modern techniques to see if more information can be gathered.

This further increases his work load.

Steve is unable to keep up with the demand of all the requests coming into the lab.
So when Steve goes to an NIJ sponsored Technology Working Group Meeting he shares barriers he encounters in meeting caseload demand with his forensic science peers. 
[Speech bubble: This is a huge problem in the forensic science community!]
Back at NIJ, physical scientists compile the issues raised by forensic science practitioners and post them publicly on NIJ’s website.

NIJ considers Steve’s issue as a priority area for the forensic science community so they include it with other issues in an open solicitation for research.

This Solicitation will be posted publicly so that researchers will be able to find it and submit proposals.
This is Jane, Jane is a researcher.

She is looking for topics for her next research project.

Jane receives an email notification from the NIJ that a new solicitation has been posted. She reviews the solicitation and Technology Working Group needs and thinks to herself, “I can figure this out”. So she writes a research proposal to address Steve’s challenges in the lab.

After Jane completes her proposal she submits it to NIJ.

She anxiously waits to hear about the results.
NIJ and a pool of external subject matter expert peer reviewers consisting of researchers and forensic science practitioners carefully review the proposal. They use a specific set of review criteria, to reach the conclusion that Jane’s research design has tremendous potential to address this issue for the forensic science community.

[Speech bubble: SO we all agree to recommend Jane’s proposal for funding]

Jane’s proposal is recommended for funding.

However, this kind of research can take some time, since researchers are trying to solve very complex problems in new and innovative ways.

Jane completes her research and creates a new method of processing evidence that will revolutionize how evidence is analyzed.

To help other people know about it, Jane presents at a Technology Transition Workshop hosted by NIJ’s Forensic Science Technology Center of Excellence. This gives her the opportunity to describe the method and receive direct feedback from the forensic science community. She also has her work published in a prominent peer reviewed journal to further disseminate her results.

This allows NIJ to give policy makers and practitioners the best available evidence to make decisions and to help build knowledge that advances both science and practice.

At the technology transition workshop, we meet back up with Steve.

After attending the workshop Jane facilitated, Steve is excited to put the new methods she developed into action.

Back at the Crime lab, Steve effectively and quickly reducing the backlog that built up.

With no backlog to slow Steve down, he’s able to start processing evidence when officers bring it to him.

This also allows him to quickly assist the officer in solving the crime from which the evidence came.

With crimes being solved faster, the world is a safer place for everyone.

Date Created: August 16, 2019