Administrative Ignorance=Forensic Liability

Administrative Ignorance=Forensic Liability

Your agency is in the news, you're being sued, and your agency's credibility is in did this happen??

A person was identified as having made the latent print collected from a piece of evidence at a crime scene. The evidence item collected from the crime scene was not labeled or packaged properly because your agency does not have a standard operating procedure(s) in place. Hence, defense counsel would ask, was your crime scene processed correctly?

Usually a small law enforcement agency's forensic training program/process is done quickly without competency or proficiency testing because the agency is in need of staff. Most common forms of fast forensic training: academy training, online training, a 40 hour basic class, and or a couple of in-house shadowing hours.  As those in the forensic field know, every crime scene and case is different.

Most of the time law enforcement agencies will hire a new person to the field of forensics, whether it's for CSI response and evidence collection or for a latent print examiner which all require training. Most agency's will cut forensic training or forensic training corners to facilitate the public's demand. The thought by Administration is usually, I'll send someone to a 40 hour latent print comparison class and a CSI class so they can start casework as soon as they get back in the station.  Then when things go wrong the agency blames personnel for the error of the Administration's forensic ignorance.

It's critical to all law enforcement agency's and private laboratories to ensure all staff are properly training, competency and have policies and procedures in place before allowing staff to start working a case. A CSI responder's role is to document, collect and preserve evidence a crime scenes. If the staff member(s) fail to perform their role, the case is flawed from the beginning. To protect your agency and staff, annual proficiency testing in the forensic discipline/role they are hired to perform is a must. That age old saying, if you don't use it , you lose it , is always in play.

To expect staff to come back from a quick class, and yes...40 hours is a quick class, is simply administrative forensic ignorance and a liability to the department and city. An agency or private laboratory is responsible for competently providing adequate forensic training for staff.  

The consequences of not providing adequate forensic training for staff are law suits towards the city, agency and personnel. If the case was not handled right at the beginning the responsible(s) for the crime may still be out on the streets.  

Law enforcement and private Laboratories, remember why we are in our forensic roles- to catch the responsible(s) for the crime and keep our community safe.


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