Competency assessment is vital to ensure that a crime scene investigator has the skills and understanding to process a crime scene properly. For the first time, online crime scene skills assessments using virtual scenes and tools are available outside Australia, where they have been a testing standard for almost a decade. NFSTC hosts and manages the online tool.
“After the Fact has provided our jurisdiction with an easy-to-use and cost effective means to conduct proficiency testing of our investigators which meets the requirements of our accreditation,” says Detective Senior Sergeant Harris of the New South Wales Police Force in Australia.
Proficiency testing is critical in forensic science to ensure protocols and procedures are performed correctly and consistently and skills are maintained. Laboratories and agencies seeking to achieve or maintain ISO certifications are required to use regular assessments to ensure a high standard of performance and quality, and crime scene investigators are no exception.
After the Fact (AtF), at www.csi-skills.com, is a comprehensive assessment testing tool for law enforcement. Each assessment covers seven criteria critical to successful crime scene investigation:
- Initial assessment
- Securing the scene
- Exhibit/evidence collection
- Case management knowledge
AtF allows the investigator to “walk through” a virtual crime scene and complete tasks including photography, note taking and evidence collection. When the scene work is complete, the investigator takes an assessment about the scenario using only their knowledge of CSI and the notes and evidence they gathered. A range of scenes are available to test approach and capabilities for both major and property (volume) crimes. Every crime scene is different, but protocol, procedures and approaches to the scene need to be consistent.
“There’s been a reluctance to use online learning, but that’s changing as new technology allows for realistic and secure testing environments,” says Kevin Lothridge, CEO of NFSTC. “Agencies don’t have to recreate scenes or take supervisors out of the field to do these assessments. AtF saves money and time.”
AtF has long been the assessment and testing method of choice in Australia, and is now available for law enforcement agencies, universities and other practitioners world-wide. Assessments are $250 and available at www.csi-skills.com.
NFSTC has released the only DNA analyst online training with updates to conform to and include the latest FBI Quality Assurance Standards (QAS), new techniques and technologies. The program is used as the knowledge base for new analysts in the laboratory, and can also be offered as supplement to university course work.
While the fundamentals of the training remained unchanged since its creation in 2005, there have been numerous updates to the technology and techniques in the intervening years. NFSTC has taken on the challenge and enhanced the training content to benefits laboratories and analysts around the world.
“Science doesn’t remain stagnant. It keeps advancing and so should the training we offer to the laboratories,” explains Kevin Lothridge, NFSTC CEO. “We took it upon ourselves to update the nine modules with the advancements we’ve seen in the field.”
These advancements include rapid and touch DNA; both of which are changing how quickly DNA can be analyzed and how much of it is needed to do so. Laboratory Technical Leaders will be able to access the program and resources, monitor student progress, receive assessment results and have the authority to establish thresholds for issuing certificate of completion.
Individual analysts or laboratory teams can enroll in the new training program through NFSTC’s website. Training costs are determined by the number of students enrolled.
The National Forensic Science Technology Center (NFSTC) is taking forensic science students out of the classroom for a unique, hands-on learning opportunity. The Largo-based training facility is opening its doors for 14 students at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg (USFSP) for a first-of-its-kind partnership between the two institutions.
“NFSTC has an international reputation in forensic science,” says USFSP adjunct professor Max Houck. “The USFSP students are lucky enough NFSTC is a bay area facility that will provide global capabilities within driving distance.”
During the course, Field Forensics, students will attend weekly three-hour sessions led by NFSTC’s subject matter experts. Topics include the basics of identifying, collecting and packaging evidence, to the new and emerging forensic space of biometric intelligence and digital media exploitation. Students will have the opportunity to try techniques and get hands on experience to augment their understanding.
“This is training I wish I had before I set foot in my first laboratory,” Kevin Lothridge, NFSTC CEO. “It’s important to know on paper how things are supposed to work. Our goal is to guide these students to use their classroom knowledge for practical, real-world solutions.”
NFSTC is committed to supporting quality education and training, and has worked with universities before through development of curriculum at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg College, University of Central Florida and University of Florida. The facility also hosts a two-week Biometric and Forensics Internship to college ROTC Cadets each summer.
USFSP students will arrive at NFSTC Fridays in the spring 2017 semester.
The National Forensic Science Technology Center (NFSTC) has received notification of one award from the U.S. Navy and two from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL). Although very different in format, these awards broaden the scope of NFSTC’s services into new military areas as well as for agencies in other countries.
The U.S. Navy has named NFSTC as a provider on the SeaPort-e contract and electronic purchasing platform. As a SeaPort-e contract holder, NFSTC will have the opportunity to bid on work for the Navy and its system commands, providing high-quality services available to our fleet and support infrastructure. SeaPort-e is a multiple award contract and the Navy’s vehicle of choice to procure engineering, technical, logistics, program management and financial support services. NFSTC is proud to continue serve our nation’s military and will be a SeaPort-e provider under the current agreement through April 2019.
NFSTC has also received its first Department of State grants to provide training and other services for INL. The initial project will assess forensic capacities and develop capabilities to improve crime scene investigation, forensic analysis, storage and evidence control procedures, and courtroom presentation skills in Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama and is valued at $1,540,000.
NFSTC delivers high quality, cost effective training and forensic technology services, and maintains an extensive network of subject matter experts to provide custom and flexible training to customers including the US and international military, and civilian law enforcement agencies.
Does your nonprofit, school or agency need materials to support programs? Florida’s State Agency for Surplus Property (SASP) provides qualified groups access to a database of government surplus items, allowing them to acquire no- or reduced-cost goods.
What kind of materials are available? You can find thousands of items from circuit breakers to tractor trailers. Organizations can benefit by acquiring small or big-ticket items at very budget-friendly prices.
NFSTC is hosting a training session on Tuesday, September 27 for organizations in the Tampa Bay/Central Florida area to learn about how to access, use and benefit from SASP.
Your organizations may qualify for access if you are a
- State or public agency.
- Nonprofit educational or public health institution (including programs for the homeless and impoverished).
- Museum, VFW, SBA 8(a).
- Nonprofit or public program for the elderly.
- Public airport.
- Educational activity of special interest to the U.S. Armed Forces.
Learn more about SASP Eligibility here.
Space is limited. Reserve your seat for this free training today.
Note: This training provided by the Florida Department of Management Services. Surplus program is run by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA).