In The News


2017-05-19 | Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Forensic Fingerprint Examiner?
“The goal is to identify individuals who are better at pattern recognition tasks than your average Joe,” said Melissa Taylor, a research manager at NIST who focuses on reducing the potential for errors and bias in forensic analysis. Taylor’s program is part of a larger NIST effort to strengthen forensic science in the United States.

2017-05-18 | KOLD Investigates: Justice put on hold for some
The reason is a number of property crime cases are being put on hold as a result of an ongoing backlog at the Department of Public Safety Southern Arizona Crime Lab, as well as the Tucson Police Department Crime Lab. According to Jim Maciulla of the DPS Crime Lab, their primary backlog is made up of burglary and auto theft cases. Right now, his team of 20 forensic scientists has a backlog of 3,500 cases. “We’re averaging about a thousand cases a month,” Maciulla said.

2017-05-16 | Digital Comparison of Torn Duct Tape
A new technical report has been made available by the NIJ, through the National Criminal Justice Reference Service: "Quantitative Algorithm for the Digital Comparison of Torn Duct Tape". The report, written by William Ristenpart, Frederic Tulleners, and Alicia Alfter, is based on research intended to "minimize human contextual bias in decisions about whether torn duct tape found at a crime scene matches a duct-tape roll found in a suspect’s possession by combining digital image analysis and an objective, quantitative algorithm in assessing the likelihood of a match."

2017-05-16 | State Forensic Science Commissions Final Report
A report recently released by NIJ provides an overview of considerations in planning for and developing a state-level forensic science commission, taking into account the substantial differences among states regarding governance, culture, statutes, and crime laboratory systems.

2017-05-16 | DNA from Bomb Fragments Focus of Sam Houston State Study
The Sam Houston State University scientists looked at three different methods of analyzing touch DNA traces on shrapnel: STR analysis, insertion/null (INNUL) markers, and SNPs via the latest “next-generation” sequencing. Ten pipe bombs loaded with Tannerite were exploded by the scientists. The devices had shrapnel touched with trace blood from people of three different races – to mimic the wounds of victims. But the wires that fused the pipe bombs together were touched with a miniscule of DNA cells from the “bomber.” The 10 bombs produced 83 fragments. Forty-four of those had quantifiable amounts of DNA. The nine wire samples remaining produced seven full STR profiles.

2017-05-08 | Leading DNA scientist sacked, 27 criminal convictions in doubt, WA Attorney-General says
A North Metropolitan Health Service (NMHS) spokesperson said Path West had launched a thorough investigation and told the ODPP as soon as it found out about an alleged breach of protocol "in relation to individual results being communicated verbally and by email without peer review". "Commencing in 2015, the investigation included the review of selected cases over a 15-year period where a court report had been provided by the scientist," the NMHS spokesman said in a statement. "The review revealed the issuance of non-peer reviewed verbal or emailed individual results did not compromise the validity of the final court report that is used as evidence, thereby no incorrect results were ever communicated to the Police or the ODPP.

2017-05-08 | SLED’s faulty gunshot residue tests delaying some prosecutions around South Carolina Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/news/local/crime/article149066069.html#storylink=cpy
“There were no cases where it showed positive where it was in fact negative,” said SLED Chief Mark Keel in an interview. Police agencies around the state depend on SLED’s labs to process crime scene evidence. Due to the near quarter-million-dollar cost of the machine used in the gunshot residue tests – which doesn’t include an additional $25,000 a year for maintenance and service – SLED has the only gunshot analysis lab in South Carolina.

2017-05-06 | SLED’s faulty gunshot residue tests delaying some prosecutions around South Carolina
All 227 cases, from January 2015 to November 2016, are the work of one analyst, Whitney Berry, who resigned from SLED in February after the flaws were discovered, SLED officials said. She could not be reached for comment. During her SLED career, which began in 2013, Berry testified in court about gunshot residue findings in 39 cases.

2017-05-06 | Former Crime Lab Chemist Charged With Stealing, Using Drugs
In February, Ieraci was sent to a medical facility for a drug test after displaying slurred speech and poor motor skills in the lab. According to the criminal complaint, he tested positive for marijuana and Alprazolam, an active ingredient in the anti-anxiety drug Xanax. Investigators reviewed security footage from the lab that showed Ieraci going into a drug evidence storage vault locker and handling evidence, Powder later collected from the locker shelves and floor tested positive for Alprazolam, the complaint stated.

2017-05-01 | Mobiles to offer crime scene access to fingerprint database
Fingerprints left at murder scenes could soon be checked against a national biometrics database using a mobile phone under plans being considered by Police Scotland. The use of handheld devices in police forensic work is being looked at by the national force as part of its 10-year strategy. The Scottish Police Authority (SPA) said the technology could provide a significant boost in murder inquiries where the first “golden hour” is vital in the collection of evidence.

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