Forensic Technology Research & Development:
Forensic science areas such as DNA, trace evidence, ballistics, toxicology, impression evidence (including fingerprints), and questioned documents must have demonstrated scientific foundations to yield strong evidence in court. Recent challenges to the admissibility of fingerprint and questioned document analyses underscore this need. Advances already made in the field of DNA testing are an example of the type of research, development, and validation needed in all forensic areas that can provide solutions allowing forensic practitioners with limited resources to work more economically while improving the quality of their analyses. Although the science of DNA has been able to overcome past court challenges with some success, advanced technology development in this area can further enhance the discriminatory power and speed of analysis while reducing cost.
The need for sound, uniform investigative protocols and training for law enforcement and other public safety personnel has been demonstrated by a number of highly publicized cases. These cases have shown how faulty or careless evidence collection procedures or eyewitness interviewing techniques can lead to miscarriages of justice. The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has taken a number of steps to make recommendations to the Attorney General and the criminal justice community on ways to improve the use and maximize the value of evidence in the criminal justice system. NIJ, in cooperation with numerous national organizations and agencies, has organized several panels of criminal justice practitioners and experts to do this work. The National Commission on the Future of DNA Evidence has made recommendations in the areas of postconviction DNA testing, laboratory funding, and crime scene DNA evidence collection. Technical Working Groups for Eyewitness Evidence, Crime Scene Investigation, Fire/Arson Scene Investigation, Bombing Scene Investigation, and Digital Evidence—each consisting of a geographical distribution of law enforcement investigators, prosecutors, defense lawyers, forensic scientists, and researchers—have developed or are in the process of developing recommended minimum investigative practices in these areas.
Office of Justice Programs and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. (2001). A resource guide to law enforcement, corrections, and forensic technologies (pp. 1-95) (United States, Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs and Office of Community Oriented Policing Services). Washington, DC: COPS: Community Oriented Policing Services.