The NIJ-sponsored Expert Working Group on Human Factors in Latent Print Analysis is clarifying potential sources of error in pattern recognition analysis. It will develop best practices to remove or minimize these sources. NIJ is addressing recommendations in the 2009 National Academy of Sciences' report titled "Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward." Specifically, the panelists focus on recommendation 5, which encourages research programs on human observer bias and sources of human error in forensic examinations.
Impression Evidence: Strengthening the Disciplines of Fingerprints, Firearms, Footwear, and Other Pattern and Impression Sciences Through Research
Forensic examinations involving specific forensic science disciplines are typically dependent upon qualitative analyses and expert interpretation of observed patterns based on a scientific foundation, rather than quantitative results. These disciplines include latent fingerprints, questioned documents, footwear, and other forms of impression and pattern evidence.
Brian Cerchiai discusses a NIJ-supported a study conducted by the Miami-Dade Police Department on the accuracy of fingerprint examiners. The study found that fingerprint examiners make extremely few errors. Even when examiners did not get an independent second opinion about their decisions, they were remarkably accurate. But when decisions were verified by an independent reviewers, examiners had a 0% false positive, or incorrect identification, rate and a 3% false negative, or missed identification, rate.