July 1999 Volume
1 Number 2
Presented at the
International Symposium on Setting Quality Standards for the
San Antonio, Texas
May 3-7, 1999
The following abstracts
of the poster sessions are ordered alphabetically by authors'
Is Accreditation Needed for Test Method Development
and Non-Routine Testing in the Forensic Laboratory?
P. M. Again
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Many forensic laboratories
are required to develop and evaluate a test method as a result
of an exhibit submission. Generally, the principles of a test
method are available. A laboratory may be accredited for competence
in doing the tests listed in the scope by International
Organization for Standardization (ISO) Guide 25 and the new
standard 17025. However, if something new is required to conduct
an examination and provide results that can be used, how are
the new procedures accredited?
On the basis of Eurachem
CITAC Guide 2 (Quality Assurance for Research and Development
and Non-Routine Analysis), a working group of the Standards Council
of Canada developed an interpretation of this European document
that can be used to ensure that forensic laboratories are accredited
for non-routine tests or for a test method that is being developed
My presentation outlines
what will be used during accreditation audits by Standards Council
of Canada assessors.
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Utah Evidence Tracking System (UETS):
A Novel Approach to Crime Laboratory Information Management Systems
T. Bazarnik, D. Cook,
J. Henry, K. Patrick, and M. Sadler
Utah Department of Public Safety
Salt Lake City, Utah
The objective of the Utah
Evidence Tracking System (UETS) project was to develop a better
and more convenient laboratory management information tool for
both law enforcement and prosecutorial use and to increase the
efficiency of information flow from the crime laboratory to user
agencies. The UETS project represents a second generation, in-house
developed software that allows both law enforcement and prosecutorial
agencies to interact online with the Bureau of Forensic Services'
Unix-based system, which is connected to the state's mainframe
computer. Using a log-on ID and a password, agencies can access
UETS from the field. The state's mainframe computer is used as
a switcher to gain access to the database of information. This
interaction is beneficial for two important reasons:
1. Law enforcement can conveniently
enter case information from their agency headquarters into the
UETS system and then hand deliver or mail the evidence. Once
the evidence is officially received, the case progress can be
monitored online by law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies.
2. When the case is completed,
an official report can be generated online in a format that can
be downloaded by user agencies.
This system has been in use
for approximately one year. The results have been encouraging.
Larger agencies, with many cases, spend less time at the laboratory
with evidence check-in, thus decreasing the staffing demands
on the evidence technicians. Agencies that are hundreds of miles
from the laboratory now have a more convenient and consistent
method of evidence submission. Requests for faxed laboratory
reports have virtually disappeared in some jurisdictions, further
decreasing unproductive interruptions and demands on all laboratory
In summary, the development
of the UETS system has conveniently shifted part of the burden
of evidence intake, case monitoring, and case reporting back
to the user agencies and has allowed for a more consistent method
of evidence submission. The system has been successful with prosecutorial
agencies who are now able to obtain case updates and case reports
for both preliminary hearings and trials without contacting the
laboratory. With UETS, the Bureau of Forensic Services has been
able to increase the efficiency of laboratory personnel. Currently,
the UETS's system has been shared with another state laboratory
system, and it is also being evaluated by the Idaho National
Engineering Laboratory (INEL) for potential nationwide applicability.
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Illinois State Police Comprehensive Quality
Assurance Program for Forensic Science Laboratories
S. N. Brown and R. P.
Illinois State Police
The Illinois State Police,
Division of Forensic Services, Forensic Sciences Command, is
committed to providing the highest quality scientific analysis
to all law enforcement agencies and to the judicial system. The
cornerstone of quality assurance is a well-defined and established
set of standards and controls for the analyst/examiner to use
as a basis for producing quality work. As important as these
standards and controls are, they do not reduce the need for a
self-checking process to monitor techniques and procedures that
are used in arriving at conclusions. In order to accomplish this
task, the Forensic Sciences Command implemented the following
procedures: case reanalysis, case file reviews, internal proficiency
testing, external proficiency testing, on-site visits, and various
The program is under the
direction of a program administrator and an assistant program
administrator who are assisted by 22 quality review (QR) coordinators:
one each from the Documents, Microscopy, Polygraph, Trace Chemistry,
and Toxicology sections; two each from the Firearms/Toolmarks
and Forensic Biology sections: three each from the Latent Prints/AFIS
section; and five each from the Drug Chemistry and DNA sections.
The QR coordinators are responsible for carrying out the following
quality assurance procedures cited in the Command Quality Manual:
case reanalysis, case file reviews, internal proficiency testing,
and on-site visits. Depending on the discipline, each analyst/examiner
participates in one or more annual proficiency tests and on-site
visits. In the Polygraph section, a detailed case file review
is substituted for a proficiency test. Additionally, external
agencies perform proficiency testing, which is monitored by the
Quality Assurance (QA) Program Administrator.
To further assist with the
quality process, an individual at each laboratory is designated
as a Quality Manager. This person's responsibility is to track
the QA process at their laboratory and file a year-end evaluation
of laboratory activities and recommendations to improve the quality
system. In addition, the Quality Manager is the contact person
for the QR coordinators in the performance of their duties.
The results of case reanalysis
and proficiency testing as reported by the QR coordinators for
1998 showed a total of four issues that could affect cases. This
is a rate of 0.42 percent (four issues in 954 total reviews).
Follow-up corrective action was taken in each instance to remedy
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Developing Measures That Relate to Outcomes and Not Just Outputs
C. E. Chasteen
Florida Fire Marshal's Fire and Arson Laboratory
In 1997 the Florida Department
of Insurance, the parent agency for the Florida Fire Marshal,
advanced its legislatively mandated schedule for Performance
Based Program Budgeting (PB2). The Division of State Fire Marshal
was designated to be the first in the department to change from
line-item budgeting to PB2.
PB2 is budgeting based on
quality principles. PB2 not only identifies inputs and outputs
but also ties those into a quality component to measure outcomes.
It is often tempting to stop with outputs because identifying
the quality component is difficult.
I present a poster that shows
the Fire and Arson Laboratory's progress through this process.
The initial stages involve an examination of who our customers
are and what our key responsibilities are. The poster shows how
this step is an essential link in a chain connecting an agency's
strategic plan and budget request to the public's perception
of the agency.
Only by linking all of these
components can an entity identify the quality measures that lead
to meaningful outcomes. Meaningful outcomes allow the public
and elected officials to see the value of supporting the budget
needs of an entity. This poster presents the various components
and shows how they are linked. Critical questions concerning
each link are presented. Our laboratory's model provides an example
of the answers to those questions. Other laboratories may wish
to adapt this model to their situation.
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Schallamach Pattern on Shoe Outsole
Acknowledged by Court in Footwear Identification
K. J. Deskiewicz
Pennsylvania State Police
In September 1998 a positive
footwear identification based on a Schallamach pattern was presented
in court. The scientific basis for the identification was accepted.
This case set a precedent that Schallamach patterns are sufficient
to effect a positive identification in footwear identification.
A Schallamach pattern is
a series of abrasions on a shoe outsole that occur perpendicular
to the direction of force. The abrasion pattern appears as a
series of fine wavelike distortions on the shoe outsole. The
Schallamach pattern occurs in the worn areas of the shoe outsole.
Care must be taken not to confuse stippling or acid etching for
a Schallamach pattern.
The Schallamach pattern was
first studied by A. Schallamach, a German rubber engineer. His
work was published in Wear Magazine (Vol. 1, No. 5, published
in the Netherlands in April 1958). Further studies were conducted
in the United Kingdom, and the results were published in the
Information Bulletin for Shoeprint/Toolmark Examiners
in 1998 (Feathering, Transient Wear Features and Wear Pattern
Analysis: A Study of the Progressive Wear of Training Shoe Outsoles
by Tart et al.).
The Schallamach pattern under
magnification has the appearance of friction ridge skin. Both
fingerprint and shoe and tire examination techniques were used
for the identification. The abrasion ridges from the impressions
were compared to the suspect shoe outsoles directly. The abrasion
patterns are highly transient in nature. If suspect shoes are
not collected within a short period of time, the pattern will
change enough that an identification will not be possible. The
terminology of ending abrasion ridge and bifurcation abrasion
ridge are applied for the comparison. On the basis of the examiner's
experience, the abrasion ridge characteristics had to be a sufficient
number to effect a meaningful comparison. There can be no unexplainable
dissimilarities in the abrasion pattern characteristics from
the known, including differing ridge counts, missing characteristics,
and distortion. All of the previously mentioned factors were
met for the identification for the case presented in court. The
case work was given to a second examiner to verify the identification.
He was also a qualified fingerprint and shoe impression examiner.
In court the exemplars were
presented to the jury, as a fingerprint identification would
be, with the background studies on the topic cited. The identification
positively placed the subject in the burglarized building, and
it also set the precedent for a shoe impression to be positively
identified by a Schallamach pattern.
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Role of Forensic Program Coordinators in Maintaining
Quality Assurance in a Multi-Laboratory System
J. Juhala and F. Schehr
Michigan State Police
East Lansing, Michigan
In states with large populations
and large geographical areas, it is common for multi-laboratory
systems to be developed to minimize travel time for courtroom
testimony, reduce travel time for submitting agency personnel,
and allow for hand delivery of evidence to the laboratory, with
face-to-face discussion between the analyst and the investigator.
systems provide an opportunity for inconsistent training, deviations
from approved methodology, a loss of esprit de corps, and a decline
in quality control between the different laboratories. These
problems compound with an increase in the number of laboratories,
staff size, and breadth of services offered in each laboratory.
As a result of the Omnibus
Crime Control and Safe Street Act passed in 1968, the Michigan
State Police Forensic Science Division expanded, as was the case
in many laboratories, from a single laboratory with a modestly
sized staff to seven laboratories with a total staff of nearly
200 by 1975. One of the laboratories was located more than 400
miles from headquarters, making routine oversight problematic.
To improve quality control
and quality assurance within the laboratory system, in 1993 the
Forensic Science Division established the position of Forensic
Program Coordinator within each discipline in the laboratory.
These positions maintain statewide, day-to-day oversight of proficiency
testing, training, methodology, research, instrumentation, and
safety within each discipline. After nearly five years of operation,
these positions have proven to be indispensable in maintaining
quality assurance in a large multi-laboratory system.
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Practical Benefits of Regional TWG-Like Organizations
J. F. Krebsbach
Albuquerque Police Department Criminalistics Laboratory
Albuquerque, New Mexico
From the first meetings of
the Technical Working Group (TWG) on DNA Analysis Methods to
the subsequent plethora of existing and proposed TWG-like groups,
quality in forensic analysis has been a key concern to any farsighted
analyst or administrator. Although the federally sponsored TWG
groups have traditionally focused on national big-picture guidelines,
the individual laboratory and analyst have frequently been on
the outside looking in with respect to their insights and difficulties
that may affect their abilities to operate and produce forensic
results in a quality manner. To facilitate the personal communication
of ideas and to aid in the troubleshooting of local analytical
problems, the Southwestern Working Group on DNA Analysis Methods
(SWGDAM) was formed more than five years ago. Originally known
informally as the Texas TWGDAM or TWGLET, this regional forensic
DNA organization now provides a number of services to its members.
SWGDAM currently has more
than 125 members representing nearly 40 laboratories from ten
states, mostly located in the southwest. SWGDAM has traditionally
acted as a forum for DNA analysts to discuss ideas and to troubleshoot
analytical problems or concerns with a group of forensic DNA
analysts working on similar cases with similar techniques. Over
a period of time the organization has evolved into a provider
of numerous programs that have aided members in ensuring that
their laboratories can maintain a high level of quality with
an extremely low level of expense. Currently, SWGDAM holds meetings
on a biannual basis, providing group troubleshooting and analyst
networking along with proficiency and audit programs, formal
training, and nationally known guest speakers. The training program
has included such areas as chemiluminescence, genetic bit analysis,
Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), and capillary electrophoresis.
Regional TWG groups provide
valuable programs and opportunities for the individual analyst
and laboratories to ensure that they provide analyses of the
highest possible quality.
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Model for a Multi-Agency Forensic Cooperation
Maryland State Police Crime Laboratory
management assignments, and requirements of the American
Society of Crime Laboratory Directors (ASCLD) result in less
time and attention for professional development, database maintenance,
and knowledge sharing among crime laboratory professionals.
An effective means to counter
this sacrifice to professional development is the creation of
a Multi-Agency Forensic Cooperation (MAFC) group. The Chesapeake
Area Shoeprint and Tire Track (CAST) group is an example. This
consortium of footwear and tire track experts succeeds because
the essential aspects for professional development are spontaneously
generated through group interaction during casework. The old
method was to rely upon a lead agency to provide knowledgeable
experts, monetary funding, vision, goals, and the time necessary
to foster professional development.
Unlike a lead agency, a MAFC
group serves as facilitators to track and promote professional
development, assemble contact and resource information, and nurture
the group culture cohesiveness. Member roles are to generate
and sustain momentum; set group agendas and goals; and share
in quality control, database maintenance, and forensic discipline
This poster highlights how
CAST succeeds in professional development, specifically in the
areas of shared quality control, forensic knowledge, talents,
databases and computer programs, and professional achievements.
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Humbling Truths Learned From Proficiency Testing
L. A. Maucieri
California Criminalistics Institute
This poster examines quality
improvement discoveries from proficiency testing in a criminalistics
laboratory system and some negative aspects inherent to the test
process. Testing frequently reveals new ways to enhance work
practices. A database for recording the outcomes of hundreds
of tests (Testrac) is available. Examples of judgmental errors
in reviewing test responses are negative factors from which to
learn. Variability of commercially prepared samples can be seen
when multiple replicates are processed by many sites in the laboratory
system. Methods for blind and reexamination testing and the resolution
of diverse opinions among peers are critical to program acceptance.
Corrective measures for tests where unexpected results are reported
and appropriate remediation contribute to learning experiences.
As a quality assurance program manager, I have compared the fallacy
of post-test intercomparison and evaluation methods in this poster.
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Offender Fingerprint Tracking Program
Albuquerque Police Department
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Recently, the Albuquerque
Police Department (APD) Criminalistics Laboratory began the Offender
Tracking Program to track all fingerprint identifications of
offenders and the disposition of their respective cases. This
is done as a quality measure of our Automated Fingerprint Identification
System (AFIS) and other fingerprint identifications from other
sources such as service requests from detectives, attorneys,
and investigators. The quality system begins with the APD Field
Investigators Unit, which is responsible for the collection of
all latent fingerprints. The latent fingerprint evidence is submitted
to the Criminalistics Laboratory where it is screened and entered
into the AFIS system. Twenty-five to 30 percent of all the workable
prints entered match with persons in our database. The crime
laboratory provides offender tracking statistics to investigators,
and the investigators then provide feedback to the crime laboratory
on the disposition of each case (e.g., arrest or indictment).
This information is then forwarded to the chief of police who
looks to each captain for results in the area commands.
The city of Albuquerque is
divided into five area commands with a substation in each area.
Each substation is an autonomous and independent entity relying
on only a few centralized functions such as criminalistics, records,
and radio communications. Some of the problems have been a lack
of communication and a lack of coordination among the investigators
between the area substations. As a quality control measure, the
Offender Tracking Program helps to bridge this gap by providing
accurate and timely information to the investigators on what
type of crime, by whom, and where it was committed. Communication
is increased, and duplication of effort is decreased.
Timely informative crime
analysis is imperative to reduce crime. Crime analysis includes
the identification of crime patterns and the quick distribution
of the resulting crime pattern information. Once a month, the
Offender Tracking Program report is distributed to the captain
and to at least two sergeants for each substation. The report
includes a detailed listing of all identifications of offenders
made by fingerprints for the previous month. Furthermore, a listing
is provided of all repeat offenders with the pertinent information
(date of occurrence, type of offense, location of offense, and
offender's name, date of birth, and APD identification number)
listed for that offender. In addition, the report is given to
other investigative units such as the Gang Unit, the Repeat Offenders
Program, Auto Theft, and Pawn Shop Detail and to personnel in
the District Attorney's office.
Upon completion of an investigation,
each substation is responsible for completing a brief Offender
Tracking Program form and returning it to the crime laboratory.
The form has two parts: relationship of offender to victim and
final case disposition. Upon receiving the completed forms, the
investigative progress can be tracked for each substation.
The analysis provided by
the Offender Tracking Program allows each area command to ensure
that there is a coordinated investigative effort among the different
parts of the city. It also alerts investigators to trends, habits,
and preferences of repeat offenders. The District Attorney's
Office can then combine multiple cases for one offender and seek
stronger sentencing. It also allows the Chief of Police to review
each substation's investigative progress.
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Structure and Function of an Effective Internal
Quality Review System
J. M. White
Orange County Sheriff-Corner Department
Santa Ana, California
Independent reviews or audits
are an essential part of a laboratory quality system. The American Society of Crime Laboratory
Directors' Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB) now
requires annual audits of laboratory operations as well as an
independent review of the laboratory quality system. The annual
quality review process at the Orange County Sheriff-Coroner Forensic
Science Laboratory was designed to provide effective review in
a large multidisciplinary forensic laboratory.
The main elements of this
review process are
- a full-time quality assurance
- a core group of examiners
trained in the audit process,
- individual audits for each
analytical section scheduled for a specific month each year,
- a well-defined set of standards
against which each section is measured, and
- clearly written communication
of findings and recommendations to management and technical staff.
A key element in the success
of this program is the appointment of a quality analyst in each
analytical section. The analysts prepare their sections for annual
review, serve as auditors in the review of other analytical sections,
and are important participants in the review of any technical
problems that may arise in their sections.
In a multidisciplinary forensic
laboratory, it is difficult for a quality manager to have sufficient
technical knowledge to adequately judge all issues that arise.
With this structure, the quality manager has the support of a
core group of analysts with expertise in both their technical
area and the review process.
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FORENSIC SCIENCE COMMUNICATIONS JULY 1999 VOLUME
1 NUMBER 2