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Firearms Examiner Training

Report Writing

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Report Writing

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National Institute of Justice (NIJ) (see reuse policy).

This section discusses how to report results for firearm and toolmark analysis. The report is an official document and may be read by many professionals, including these:

  • Investigators
  • Prosecutors
  • Defense attorneys
  • Other forensic experts

There are some general guidelines pertaining to all forensic reports that should be followed.

Forensic reports must

  • adhere to the administrative and technical policies of the issuing laboratory,
  • adhere to the requirements of the laboratorys accrediting body,
  • address all examinations requested by the submitting agency,
  • include results of any additional unrequested examinations,
  • be clearly written in Standard English using appropriate grammar and punctuation,
  • be written, to the extent possible, in non-technical terms,
  • express results in a balanced and unbiased way,
  • be a reflection of the case file.

Click here to read the Sample Worksheets and Reports Users Guide

Report Contents

Typically the contents of a firearms/toolmark report will include these elements:

  • Date of the report
  • Laboratory/agency address
  • Attention line
  • Submitting agency case number
  • Laboratory tracking number
  • Written title for the case (may contain suspects name, the victims name, and the violation)
  • Examinations requested
  • List and general description of evidence items received
  • When, how, and by whom the evidence items were received
  • Results of examination(s) performed
  • Information regarding return of evidence
  • Signature of examiner and quality assurance reviewer(s) (per laboratory protocol)

Worksheets must be used by examiners to document their work and to refresh their recollections for testimonies. This is also a particularly effective way to organize case file information so that it can be incorporated into the report. Sample worksheets for various types of examinations can be found in the resource section of this training program.

The resource section of this training program contains sample reports with language and statements pertaining to the specific area of firearm/toolmark examination covered in each module. It should be emphasized that laboratory policies and procedures for report writing must be followed and that the sample reports contained in the resource section are provided only for guidance.

Click here to read a sample forensic worksheets and report

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