Sexual assault kit and DNA backlogs across the country are in the news with alarming frequency. With rising public outcry gaining the attention of media and lawmakers, it is critical that laboratory and agency leaders are forward-thinking in their approach to solutions and proposing efficient and effective new processes.
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What kind of evidence can be pulled from a cell phone? Can you really pull fingerprints off of paper? How can police officers tell if substances may be drugs or explosives before they send samples to the lab? Pinellas County STEM TEC students had the chance to learn the answers to these questions and explore forensic techniques at NFSTC on June 27th.
Nearly 40 high school students spent the morning in the NFSTC training warehouse as part of the 2013 Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM), Training for Emerging Careers (TEC): Summer Career Institute. The program introduces students between the ages of 14 and 17 to STEM careers. For the fourth year, NFSTC has opened its training facility to students for hands-on instruction on various forensic science and crime scene investigation topics.
This year, students participated in a mini-course on chemistry field technologies and the High Tech Crime Institute presented fascinating information about cell phone forensics and data extraction. Students also had the opportunity to try various fingerprinting techniques.
“Understanding how to apply science and math knowledge is critical today. Increasingly, jobs are very high tech and the students need to be knowledgeable in
the subjects, then be able to apply what they know,” says Kevin Lothridge, CEO of NFSTC. “The key to getting kids interested is getting them engaged, and that’s what we like about the STEM TEC program. Their career opportunities can be fantastic.”
The program, developed by Junior Achievement and WorkNet Pinellas, provides career exploration and workplace readiness training to economically disadvantaged students through a four-week summer program and year-round engagements. The program includes employer site visits to gain job shadowing experience in STEM specific fields.
One teacher wrote to say thanks:
Once again, our students had nothing but good things to say about our field trip. I was very impressed to, as was the rest of the staff. I liked the various sessions. They were long enough to pique the students’ interest and give them some good hands-on.
Trish Spencer, Lead Teacher, Junior Achievement Clearwater
The National Institute of Justice’s Principles of Forensic DNA for Officers of the Court training is now available online in Spanish at no charge.
This interactive training tool is designed to assist prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges to understand the processes involved in DNA analysis and the potential effect it may have in cases in which forensic DNA is an issue.
This interactive training program is delivered in fifteen modules.
Visit NFSTC and the Deployable Forensic Laboratory at the IACP Conference, booth #2858, October 3–7, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. Learn about the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System at NamUs.gov, portable forensic technologies, forensics training opportunities and more. The lab will be open during all exhibit hours.
NFSTC has been recognized by the International Association of Chiefs of Police with an Excellence in Technology Award for the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs). The NamUs system, launched in January 2009, provides central reporting for unidentified remains and missing persons records that is available to and searchable by anyone. By using 21st century, web-based technology at www.namus.gov, a new way of solving missing persons/unidentified persons cases is quickly emerging.
Experts with years of experience in missing and unidentified persons investigations assisted in the development of the database, ensuring a system that can capture complete and relevant information. New missing persons cases can be added by law enforcement or the general public, be validated by case managers and be visible and searchable across the country in a very short turn-around time.
The IACP-iXP Excellence in Technology Award Program recognizes law enforcement agencies’ superior achievement and innovation in the field of communication and information technology. This international award program is designed to recognize leading practices through solutions that benefit law enforcement as a profession and innovative implementation of common off-the-shelf hardware/software.
Funding for this program is provided through a grant from the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.