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The National Forensic Science Technology Center (NFSTC) was presented with the August Vollmer Excellence in Forensic Science Award for contributions to forensic science at the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) at their annual conference in Denver earlier this month. The organization’s program of making deployable forensic laboratories available to agencies and laboratories around the country was selected for this distinct honor.
Due to the nature of forensic analysis, any loss of operational time can create a significant backlog of casework affecting court schedules, local law enforcement processes and public safety. Deployable forensic laboratories are an innovative and efficient way to provide expansion in emergency or combat situations, or temporary replacement of forensic analysis capabilities after a natural disaster or other crisis. One of the organization’s six deployable laboratories is in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, replacing facilities that were damaged by last year’s catastrophic flooding. That community’s forensic service unit was in the basement of the police department and was destroyed. The deployable laboratory is providing work space while facilities are rebuilt.
NFSTC developed the laboratories in partnership with the Department of Defense and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) to make these capabilities available to local or national forces when needed.
The labs provide expandable facilities free of charge to the agency in need, support that comes through a grant from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). DTRA previously funded the development, integration, test, and delivery of the mobile forensic laboratories, which are operated and maintained by NFSTC and NIJ provides the funding required to maintain the units. Two other laboratories are currently in service with the Michigan State Police to assist them in continuing operations while they secure new permanent laboratory space.
The IACP recognizes the significant impact forensic science has on the criminal justice system and has established the August Vollmer Excellence in Forensic Science Award to honor the proactive, innovative use of forensic technologies by law enforcement.
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.
NFSTC recently completed a two-week, hands-on Site Exploitation course for military service members. Participants in the course gained critical skills to identify, prioritize and collect evidence, and perform presumptive testing on powders, explosive materials and controlled substances.
“By using forensic techniques to analyze the evidence found at a site, warfighters can get a much better understanding of the types of activities that suspects are engaged in and help determine whether or not they are a threat,” said CEO Kevin Lothridge.
With this key training, the newly-trained military service members have the forensic skills they need to identify terrorist activities and make the best decisions possible on the battlefield.
NFSTC’s Forensic Information Data Exchange (FIDEX) project has been selected for inclusion in the upcoming National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) Training Conference to be held in Baltimore, MD, from September 30 to October 2, 2009. The presentation, “Leveraging Existing NIEM and XML Standards: the Forensic Information Data Exchange (FIDEX) Project,” will provide results of a pilot implementation of FIDEX and demonstrate how FIDEX can be used to share information among agencies, streamlining forensic case submission and case disposition processes.
“FIDEX allows agencies to share NIEM compliant evidence information which can make operations much more efficient,” said Mike O’Berry of the NFSTC. “For instance, crime labs often find themselves entering evidence information multiple times during the forensic case submission process. With FIDEX, law enforcement can exchange case data from their system with the crime laboratory information management system (LIMS) electronically, eliminating duplication of effort and increasing the efficiency of the entire process.”
The FIDEX team includes Aaron Gorrell of Waterhole Software, Robin Wilson Jones of NIJ and Mike O’Berry of NFSTC. The team will discuss how agencies and crime labs can start using FIDEX for their own jurisdictions.