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Forensic Research and Development at NIJ

Forensic science is the application of sciences such as physics, chemistry, biology, computer science and engineering to matters of law. Forensic science can help investigators understand how blood spatter patterns occur (physics), learn the composition and source of evidence such as drugs and trace materials (chemistry) or determine the identity of an unknown suspect (biology).

Impression Evidence: Strengthening the Disciplines of Fingerprints, Firearms, Footwear, and Other Pattern and Impression Sciences Through Research

June, 2010

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.

Multimedia Resources from NIJ's Forensic DNA Training Courses

May 2013

NIJ hosts free, self-paced online courses that include videos and animations developed with funding from NIJ. You are free and encouraged to use these as a resources in your own classrooms or other work. We ask only that you acknowledge NIJ as the source.

The videos and animations below are arranged by the course in which they appear.

How Reliable Are Latent Fingerprint Examiners?

September, 2015

September  2015

 

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.