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Document 1806904
California Crime Laboratory
Review Task Force
An Examination of
Forensic Science in California
November 2009
California Crime Laboratory
Review Task Force
An Examination of
Forensic Science in California
November 2009
California Crime Laboratory Review Task Force
Members
Dane Gillette, Task Force Chair
Chief Assistant Attorney General
Representing: California Attorney General’s Office, Department of Justice
Barry Fisher, Vice Chair
Crime Laboratory Director (retired)
Los Angeles County Sheriffs’ Department’s
Scientific Services Bureau
Representing: The California State Sheriffs’ Association,
from a department with a crime laboratory
Michael Burt, Criminal Defense Attorney
Law Office of Michael Burt
Representing: A private criminal defense attorney organization
Dolores A. Carr, District Attorney
Santa Clara County
Representing: The California District Attorneys Association,
from an office with a crime laboratory
Arturo Castro, Attorney
Office of the General Counsel
Administrative Office of the Courts
Representing: Judicial Council of California
Jennifer Friedman, Deputy Public Defender
Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office
Representing: The California Public Defenders Association
Dean M. Gialamas, Director
Orange County Sheriff’s Department’s
Forensic Science Service Division
Representing: The American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors
Robert A. Jarzen, Director
Laboratory of Forensic Services
Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office
Representing: The California Association of
Crime Laboratory Directors
Elizabeth A. Johnson, Ph.D., Forensic Scientist
Appointed by: The Office of the President pro Tempore
of the Senate
i
Members
Sam Lucia, Lieutenant San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department’s
Scientific Investigations Division
Representing: The California Peace Officers’ Association
Gregory Matheson, Director
Los Angeles Police Department’s
Criminalistics Laboratory
Representing: The California Police Chiefs Association,
from a department with a crime laboratory
James McLaughlin, Chief
Planning and Analysis Division
Representing: California Highway Patrol
Jennifer Mihalovich, Criminalist III
Oakland Police Department’s Criminalistics Laboratory
Representing: The California Association of Criminalists
Steven Nash, Detective (retired)
Marin County Sheriff’s Department
Representing: The International Association for Identification
Jeff Rodzen, Ph.D., Senior Wildlife Forensic Specialist
California Department of Fish and Game’s
Wildlife Forensics Laboratory
Appointed by: The Governor
William C. Thompson, J.D., Ph.D., Professor
University of California, Irvine
Department of Criminology, Law and Society
Appointed by: The Office of the Speaker of the Assembly
Charlotte Wacker, Director
University of California, Davis, Body Donation Program
Appointed by: The Governor
The findings and recommendations expressed in this report are solely those of the California Crime
Laboratory Review Task Force, and should not be considered as representing those of any department
or agency of the California State Government. The opinions and recommendations expressed in this
report reflect the consensus of the Task Force members.
ii
Special Recognition
We wish to recognize and acknowledge the individuals who staffed the Task Force and pro­
vided invaluable administrative support, critical technical skills, and a major contribution in the
preparation of the Final Report.
California Department of Justice
Michael Chamberlain
Colleen Higgins
Leah Barros
Celia Parks
Deputy Attorney General, Staff Counsel to Task Force
Staff Services Manager
Student Assistant
Administrative Assistant
In addition, we would like to express our gratitude to the many members of the public, includ­
ing members of law enforcement agencies and the legal, academic and scientific communities,
who attended one or more of the public Task Force meetings. Many contributed ideas and
comments during the meetings. Several individuals provided particularly useful and perceptive
input and they are noted below.
Mary Gibbons
Kevin Davis
Manager, Oakland Police Department’s Criminalistics Division
California Highway Patrol, in attendance with or for Chief James
McLaughlin
California Department of Justice, Bureau of Forensic Services
Jill Spriggs
Eva Steinberger
Bill Phillips
Chief
Assistant Chief in charge of DNA Programs
Director, Toxicology Laboratory
iii
Acknowledgments
We also wish to acknowledge the staff of the California Attorney General’s Communications
Office, Communications and Imaging Resource Center (CIRC), who contributed to the Final
Report.
Jerry Hill
Daphne Hom
Allison Meraz
Oscar Estrella
Tricia Morgensen
Janet Mistchenko
Staff Services Manager
Managing Editor
Editor
Graphic Designer
Graphic Designer
Graphic Designer
Special thanks to Stan Brown, CIRC photographer, and the CIRC printing staff who assisted in
the Final Report’s production.
Photo Credits
The California Crime Laboratory Review Task Force is grateful for the photographs provided for this
report by the following facilities: Sacramento County District Attorney’s Forensic Sciences Laboratory,
Orange County Sheriff-Coroner Department’s OC Crime Laboratory, Santa Clara County District
Attorney’s Laboratory of Criminalistics, BFS Jan Bashinski DNA Laboratory, BFS Fresno Regional
Laboratory, and the Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center, CSU Los Angeles.
iv
Table of Contents
Executive Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Chapter 1
Introduction. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Chapter 2
Organization and Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Chapter 3
Staff and Training
Recruitment and Retention . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
Education. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
Certification . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
Chapter 4
Funding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
Chapter 5
Performance Standards and Equipment
Workload Demands . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Staffing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Equipment and Facilities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Accreditation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
51
59
68
72
Chapter 6
Statewide Forensic Science Oversight. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85
Appendices
A. Task Force Member Biographies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93
B. Penal Code Section 11062 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99
C. Crime Laboratory Survey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101
D. Law Enforcement Agency Survey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 121
E. District Attorney Survey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 127
F. Supplemental Questionnaire. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 137
G. List of Meeting Presentations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 139
H. Recommendations of the 2009 National Academy of Sciences Report. . . . . . . . . . . 141
I. Table of Comparative Salaries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 147
J. Presentation on ASCLD/LAB Certification . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 159
K. Existing State Oversight Entities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 171
Executive Summary
An Examination
of Forensic Science
in California
Over the years, a network of forensic laboratories was created throughout California to serve
the state’s criminal justice system. The California Department of Justice established several
state-level labs while counties or cities developed their own entities. Since the criminal justice
system depends on high-quality forensic science services, California enacted legislation in
October 2007 to review the state’s crime laboratory system (Assembly Bill 1079, Richardson)
with a mandate to the Department of Justice to create and chair the California Crime Labora­
tory Review Task Force. The legislation added section 11062 to the California Penal Code,1
which directed the Task Force to “make recommendations as to how best to configure, fund,
and improve the delivery of state and local crime laboratory services in the future.”
The mandate considered a variety of issues for the Task Force to review, including the
following:
•
•
•
•
•
Organizationandmanagementofcrimelaboratoryservices;
Staffandtraining;
Funding;
Performancestandardsandequipment;and
Statewideforensicscienceoversight.
The Task Force held monthly meetings from December 2007 through September 2009, with
several hosted by crime lab directors. All meetings were open to the public. The members
heardpresentationsfromvariousorganizationsandindividualswithexpertiseincrimelabora­
toryoversight,ethics,andmanagement;accreditationandcertification;andforensiceducation
and training. Interested members of the public in attendance also provided valuable input.2
To compile an inventory, which was mandated, and to gather other information necessary to
complete its report, the Task Force drafted a comprehensive 19-page survey that was sent to
each of the major crime labs operated by state, county, or local agencies.3 The labs proved to
SeePenalCodesection11062,setforthinAppendixB.
AlistofthepresentationsissetforthatAppendixG.
3
AlistofthecrimelabsisincludedinChapter2.AcopyofthesurveyisattachedasAppendixC.
1
2
1
be tremendously cooperative and all returned the surveys. In addition, separate surveys were
sent to all California district attorneys and county sheriffs, to a representative sample of local
police departments, and to county public defenders and other defense organizations.4
A large number of surveys were returned, providing a wealth of useful data.5
Based on the results of these efforts, the Task Force prepared this report, An Examination of
Forensic Science in California. This report has two goals: first, to provide an accurate snap­
shot of the current condition of government-funded forensic science in California, including
descriptions and explanations of both successful and failed delivery of timely, reliable, scientific
testing;andsecond,torecommendstepsthatstateandlocalpolicymakerscantaketoidentify
and address deficiencies in the field while continuing to support its achievements.
A complete listing of the Task Force’s recommendations follows. The full report includes back­
groundinformationanddiscussionsoftherecommendations;eachoftheserecommendations
reflects the consensus of the Task Force.
Staff and Training
Recruitment and Retention
Recruitment of new personnel and the retention of skilled, proficient forensic professionals
are serious concerns among California crime laboratories. The Task Force identified a number
of problems and potential solutions relating to recruitment and retention. The labs’ primary
concern is low pay at the entry level, resulting in difficulties in recruiting staff. This issue was
consistently noted as a major problem by the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Forensic
Services (BFS) labs, whose staff have the lowest pay rates within the state, and by county and
city labs. Another common problem is the excessive length of time to hire new staff:
government hiring procedures and thorough background investigations result in a hiring pro­
cess that ranges from several months to a year. Many qualified job applicants accept other of­
fers, sometimes more lucrative, within that waiting period. The Task Force identified the most
criticalrecruitmentsolutions:(1)offerbettercompensationforstateandsomelocalagencies;
(2)havehumanresourcesstafffindwaystoexpeditethetestingandselectionprocess;and
(3) give lab managers more direction and authority over hiring and selection.
Survey responses from the county labs shared several common themes with state labs: they
suffer from a lack of qualified candidates and they face stiff competition from other labs for
desirable candidates. Specifically, several labs stated they have difficulty finding applicants
who have thorough background knowledge of the discipline they wish to practice. Other
issues:manyapplicantscannotpassabackgroundcheck;othersdonotacceptoffers
because the lab’s starting salary is too low (even in some of the labs with the highest pay).
Many county labs lose experienced staff because of burnout, high demands, monotony of
casework, and excessive crime scene investigation responsibilities. In addition, many
criminalists leave because of the high cost of living in their specific areas.
4
5
Copies of the surveys are included as Appendices D and E.
Responses were received from district attorney’s offices, county sheriff’s offices, police departments, and defender
organizations. All stakeholder survey responses are included on a DVD that accompanies this report.
2
Orange County Sheriff-Coroner Department’s OC Crime Lab
Recommendations
• Publiccrimelabsshouldconsidertheappropriateemployeeclassificationoftheir
forensic science professionals, and they should determine whether their salaries
should be based on a model that compares salaries offered by similar-sized public
agencies in relevant jurisdictions. For example, the California Highway Patrol (CHP)
sets pay rates according to averages of several of the largest local agencies. The CHP
currently uses the officer pay of the Oakland Police Department, the San Francisco
Police Department, the Los Angeles Police Department and Sheriff’s Department, and
the San Diego Police Department as a baseline for their salary rates. The lower-paying
municipal labs could also use the average of the competing agencies’ salaries because
several of them fell below the geographically adjusted average.
• Labsshouldconsidertheuseoflaboratorymeritsystemsthatofferhigherpayto
those who have advanced degrees and who demonstrate a willingness to participate
in research projects that advance forensic science. Such incentives would be particu­
larly appropriate for individuals who desire to promote to supervisory or management
positions within the lab.
• Labsthatcurrentlydonotofferpayincentivesforindividualanalyststoachieve
certification or assume technical lead duties should consider adopting incentives.
Several municipal labs offer these incentives to retain their most qualified staff
members.
• AllpubliccrimelabsinCaliforniashouldconsideradoptingacommonformulafor
calculating retirement benefits applicable to their forensic science professionals.
3
• Labsshouldgiveforensicscientistsmoreopportunitiestocross-trainondifferent
disciplines and to attend and participate in professional meetings.
• Thecontrollingagencies’humanresourcesunitsshouldworkmorecloselywiththe
laboratory managers to find ways to expedite the testing process. In addition, a
greater involvement and understanding by human resources staff regarding lab
processes would benefit both the lab and human resources. For example, one lab
manager appropriately suggested that human resources staff take a more active role
in understanding the mission and procedures that occur in a lab to develop a rationale
for a more rapid hiring cycle.
• Labsandparentagenciesshouldinvestigateestablishinguniformbackground
standards for forensic scientists. Each agency should publish the particular back­
ground standards a candidate is required to satisfy, allowing candidates to avoid time
spent submitting—and allow labs to avoid time spent evaluating—an ineligible
application.
• Labsshouldstreamlinethebackgroundcheckprocessforcriminalistposition
applicants and coordinate with parent agencies to allocate additional resources to the
background investigation unit.
• Labsshouldjoinaninteragencyefforttocoordinatebackgroundinvestigationsof
common applicants, share information, and reduce redundancy. This cooperative
effort would be facilitated by adoption of a set of industry-wide background
standards. The Task Force suggests that the California Association of Crime Labor­
atory Directors (CACLD) draft these standards and issue recommendations to public
laboratories statewide.
Education
In this key area, it is widely agreed that forensic scientists need college or university-level
training in scientific principles and practices and the scientific method. It is clear, however,
that college training is often not enough. California’s lab directors have identified several
deficiencies in the preparation of entry-level employees, most of whom are recent college
graduates. According to lab directors, entry-level employees often lack:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
4
Anadequateappreciationofwhatcrimelabworkentails;
Basic“real-world”skillssuchascriticalthinking,problemsolving,andconflict
resolution;
Sufficienttrainingininstrumentanalysis;
Adequatetraininginparticulardisciplines,suchaslatentprintanalysisandcrime
sceneinvestigation;
Traininginquantitativeanalysisandforensicstatistics;
Sufficienttraininginwrittenandoralcommunicationskillsandreportwriting;
Appreciationoftheroleofforensicscienceinthelegalsystemandthecourtroom;and
Knowledgeofethicalprinciplesandlegalstandardsandrules,includinghowtotestify
in court.
Recommendations
• TheUniversityofCaliforniaandCaliforniaStateUniversityshouldincorporategraduate
level forensic science programs into mainstream course offerings.
• Continuingeducationforcriminalistsisessential,andthestateshouldfundit
accordingly. Crime laboratories should develop mandatory requirements for continuing
education as part of their quality manuals.
• Thestateshouldprovidesufficientfundingtoensureproperstaffing,maintenance,
and future expansion of the California Criminalistics Institute (CCI) program, as well
as the resources to hire outside contractors with specialized expertise to teach as
necessary. Policymakers should consider a stable and permanent funding source for
CCI, perhaps built along the model presented by the Commission on Peace Officer
Standards and Training (POST).
• CCIshoulddevelopalabmanagementtrainingprogram.
• CCIoralternativetrainingopportunitiesshouldbeavailableinagreatervarietyof
locations throughout the state.
• Californialawschoolsshouldincorporatescientificevidencetrainingintotheir
coursework offerings.
• Thestateshouldestablish(orreestablish)adoctoralprograminforensicscienceatone
of its state university campuses.
• Universityprogramsfocusingonforensicscienceshouldtakeamoreactiverolein
informing students about the scrutiny of background checks and what types of
personal issues could preclude students from employment in a forensic lab.
Certification
Professional certification is a designation earned by a person to assure that he or she has the
minimum qualifications necessary to perform a job or task. Currently, the certification of
forensic scientists is available to qualified forensic practitioners but is not required by California
or federal law.
The essential components of a professional forensic science certification program include mini­
mum education, experience, and professional involvement necessary to apply for certification.
(See Table 2, Chapter 3, which provides an overview of the minimum requirements of five
principle forensic science certificate programs.)
Recommendations
• Allpersonswhopracticeinaforensicsciencedisciplineortestifyasaforensicscience
analyst/examiner6 should become certified by a reputable certifying body.
6
An analyst/examiner performs casework-related duties on evidence items within the laboratory and issues reports
containing opinions or interpretations on the findings and observations resulting from the work.
5
• Alllaboratoriesandtheirparentagenciesarestronglyencouragedtoprovidesupport
and incentives to promote individual staff certification. Fiscal-based incentives may
include funding application and sitting fees, as well as offering pay bonuses for
certificate holders. Non-fiscal incentives may include on-duty study and test-taking
time and the use of certificate status as a promotion factor.
• Allforensicscienceprofessionalsshouldhaveaccesstoacertificationprocess.
• Thestateshouldmandatethattheonlyacceptablecertificatesarethosegrantedby
certification bodies accredited by the Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board, or
certification bodies that adhere to requirements equivalent to those set forth by the
Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board.
Funding
All California crime laboratories surveyed
reported that they lack predictable and
stable funding. California is not alone
in this financial resource shortage.
Testimony provided in 2008 to the
National Academy of Sciences by the
American Society of Crime Laboratory
Directors also addressed the need for
adequate and sustainable funding
sources in order for the nation’s crime
laboratories to meet current and future
demands.
The Task Force concluded that crime laboratory funding in California is inadequate,
unpredictable, and too unstable to meet current demands or expectations of future growth.
Changes to the existing funding to crime laboratories are needed to restore and enhance the
effective delivery of forensic science services in California.
Recommendation
• EachagencythathousesacrimelaboratoryinCaliforniamustidentifyorcreatea
consistent and reliable funding stream. It may be beneficial to link funding mecha­
nisms to performance objectives as an incentive-based process that would enhance
public confidence in government operations.
Performance Standards and Equipment
Workload Demands
The majority of lab directors reported that their laboratories experience some problems in
meeting the demands of an ever-increasing workload. DNA, fingerprints, and firearms were
most often identified as disciplines where requests exceeded staffing capabilities. While DNA
is generally only available in a small percentage of cases, the demand and attention given to
DNA appears to exceed that of many other forensic disciplines.
6
In addition, it is in non-DNA disciplines that labs expect demands to increase. In many cases,
more staff cannot be hired because of the space limitations imposed by the size of the current
laboratory facility. (In some cases, the space exists but the funds to hire criminalists do not.)
Recommendations
• Publiccrimelaboratoriesshouldorganizeandparticipateincontinuingeducationfor
attorneys and law enforcement in their service areas regarding effective use of forensic
science and crime laboratory resources.
• Eachcrimelaboratoryshouldimplementprocedurestoachievebettercommunication
between stakeholders and laboratory personnel.
• Eachcrimelaboratoryshouldprovidetrainingtojudgesregardingthecostsassociated
with lab personnel being away from the laboratory waiting to testify.
• Policymakers,laboratories,andlaboratories’parentagenciesshouldconsidernovel
approaches to increasing efficiency and mitigating workload demands. Regional
consolidation of services, contract services, fee-for-service programs, and evidence
item testing limits should be explored and evaluated.
• Laboratoriesshouldexplorecross-traininganalystsinmultipledisciplinesbasedonthe
size and needs of the laboratory.
• Laboratoriesandthedistrictattorney’sofficesintheirserviceareasshouldcollaborate
on standardizing routine discovery in criminal cases. In addition, labs should explore
means of making items of discovery such as policy and procedure manuals available
electronically.
• Allcrimelaboratoriesshouldconductstudiestoassesswaystoimproveefficiencyand
enhance productivity.
• Allcrimelaboratoriesshouldexplorewhetherflexibleworkweeksoralternativework
shifts would facilitate efficiency.
• Allcrimelaboratoriesshouldconductastudytosetstandardsforthenumberofcrime
lab analysts, supervisors, and support staff required to serve a particular population
with a specified crime rate.
Staffing
Staffing levels are one of the key indicators of a laboratory’s ability to meet service demands.
Staff in the crime laboratory typically includes analyst/examiners, technical support personnel,
managers, and clerical and other support personnel.
7
The Task Force has identified factors that have a significant effect on the ability of technical
stafftomeettheirworkloaddemands.Thesefactorsincludestaffshortages;difficultyin
attractingexperiencedanalysts;trainingtime;staffingfluctuationsduetoextendedleave
orfamilyleave,vacation,sickleave,andscheduleddaysoff;analystretention;andstaff
turnover. Further, laboratory staff must frequently confront and resolve non-scientific issues
such as agencies requesting that everything in the case be examined, the CSI effect, time
spent in court, discovery and public records requests, increased demands for DNA analyses,
and providing training to law enforcement and district attorneys. There is also lack of support
staff, insufficient supervisory personnel, and paperwork and administrative duties that add
significantly to the time it takes to analyze a case. Finally, quality assurance demands, grant
management requirements, instrument maintenance duties, lack of space, and budget
constraints are additional factors preventing existing staff from meeting casework demands.
Recommendations
• Jurisdictionsandlaboratoryparentagenciesshoulddevelopcomprehensiveplansfor
adding staff to their crime laboratories and detail all the anticipated benefits, both
short- and long-term.
• Thecrimelaboratory,parentagency,andallcrimelaboratoryservicestakeholders
within the laboratory’s jurisdiction should collaborate to set acceptable standards for
turnaround time service goals and the “not to exceed” number of backlogged cases.
• Crimelaboratories,parentagencies,andotherstakeholdersshouldcoordinateefforts
to obtain authorization and funding for necessary additional staff.
• Thestateshouldconductastudytoestablishalaboratorystaffingformulathat
addresses the following areas:
o Theacceptablenumberofcasesperanalystineachforensicdiscipline;
o Theacceptableanalyst-to-managerratiowithinlaboratories;
o Theacceptablenumberoflaboratorysupportstaff;and
o The feasibility of statewide guidelines that establish the ideal number of
analysts to serve a particular size population with a specified crime rate.
In addition, the study should consider the feasibility of contract-based crime
laboratory services or payment for forensic services (i.e., fee-for-service).
Equipment and Facilities
Many California crime laboratories lack necessary equipment or facilities. Laboratories,
however, can and should consider outsourcing some requests to laboratories that possess
additional or different capabilities. In addition to having the appropriate equipment for each
discipline in forensic science, it is important to ensure the equipment is maintained and
replaced as necessary.
8
Recommendations
• Laboratoriesshouldensurethattheypossessallequipmentandfacilitiesnecessaryto
provide the highest quality forensic science services and to meet all client demands in
a timely manner.
• Laboratoriesshouldinvestigateandidentifyunderutilizedforensicscienceservicesfor
potential regional consolidation.
• Eachlaboratoryshouldmaintainanequipmentreplacementbudgettoensurethatits
equipment is modern and functional.
Accreditation
The Task Force reviewed the status of crime laboratory
accreditation. The term “accreditation” is defined in
the forensic science profession as the formal assessment
and recognition by an impartial authority that a forensic
laboratory is capable of meeting and maintaining
defined standards of performance, competence, and
professionalism.7 It is a status awarded to forensic
laboratories, while certification is earned by individual
forensic scientists. The accreditation of laboratories is a
voluntary process and involves independent third-party
scrutiny.
Recommendations
• AllCaliforniapubliccrimelaboratoriesshouldbe
accredited through one of the available crime
laboratory accreditation programs. The Task
Force does not see a need to establish a parallel
or unique forensic laboratory accreditation program in California. Conformance to
existing accreditation programs is a rigorous and time-consuming endeavor for even
the smallest forensic laboratories, and it is unlikely that any of California’s public crime
laboratories would allow their accreditation status to lapse because the cost would be
too great, especially the cost to the reputation of the forensic laboratory and its ability
to acquire grant funding. Direct applications to the National Institute of Justice for
DNA and forensic science improvement grants require proof of accreditation status to
be considered for grant funding.
• Thestateshouldfurtherstudywhetherorhowforensicscienceactivitiesthatoccur
outside of accredited crime laboratories could be brought within an accredited
organization.
7
Encyclopedia of Forensic Sciences, edited by Siegel, Saukko and Knupfer, 2000 Academic Press, Volume 1, Glossary,
at p. Aii.
9
Statewide Oversight
The call for a unified statewide perspective on forensic science issues is a product of the
various concerns expressed elsewhere in this report. While some laboratory shortcomings
identified by the Task Force can be addressed locally by individual laboratories, others would
be most effectively studied, and corrected, by means of inter-jurisdiction coordination and
advocacy at a state government level. Thus, the creation of a statewide entity concerned
with the timely delivery of reliable forensic science should be considered.
Recommendation
• Californiashouldestablishastatewidebodytoconsiderissuesrelatedtoforensic
science. The specifics of this proposal, including the composition and functions of this
body, will be described in a supplemental report published within one year of this
report.
10
Chapter 1
Introduction
Over the last two years, the California Crime Laboratory Review Task Force (Task Force) has
studied the state of forensic science services in California. The Task Force collected and ana­
lyzed extensive data from California’s public crime laboratories, their user agencies, and other
stakeholders. The Task Force conducted interviews, heard presentations from experts, visited
laboratories, and engaged in constructive discussion and debate. This report is the product of
those efforts, and its goals are twofold. First, the report seeks to provide an accurate snapshot
of the current condition of government-funded forensic science in this state, including descrip­
tions of both the successful and failed delivery of timely, reliable scientific testing. Second, the
report will recommend steps that state and local policymakers can take to identify and address
deficiencies in the field while continuing to support forensic science achievements.
The History of Crime Laboratory Review in California
Scientific evidence has long been recognized as a valuable tool to not only identify and convict
the guilty, but to exclude or exonerate the innocent.8 Although such procedures as finger­
prints, firearm comparison, and various forms of serology testing have been used for many
years, the development of DNA testing dramatically increased interest in the application of
scientific procedures to the criminal justice system. That in turn focused attention on forensic
science in general, including government crime laboratories and the criminalists and techni­
cians they employ. In California, the capacity of labs to handle increased workload, the ad­
equacy of facilities and equipment, the accuracy of testing, and questions about lab accredita­
tion and certification of criminalists all came under increased scrutiny. California has explored
these issues on at least three occasions in the past 10 years: the 1998 State Auditor’s study,
the 2003 Attorney General’s study, and the 2004 study by the California Commission on the
Fair Administration of Justice.
The 1998 State Auditor’s Study
Pursuant to former Penal Code section 13892,9 in fiscal year 1997–1998 the California State
Auditor conducted an “assessment of the needs of existing forensic science laboratories” to
determine the “changes, improvements, and augmentations” needed for the labs to obtain
or maintain American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board
(ASCLD/LAB) accreditation by January 1, 2004.10 The State Auditor used contract experts, site
For a short history of forensics and the use of scientific evidence in court, see Examining Forensics, 19 CQ Researcher 597,
606–610 (July 17, 2009).
9
Repealed by Stats. 2001, c. 745, section 164.
10
ASCLD/LAB accreditation procedures are discussed later in this report in Chapter 5.
8
11
inspections, interviews with lab directors, and an advisory board containing representatives
from forensic labs, law enforcement, prosecutors’ offices, local and county government, the
Department of Justice Bureau of Forensic Services (BFS), and the Judicial Council. Although
the State Auditor assessed 19 government forensic laboratories operated by local and county
agencies, the Auditor did not examine the labs operated by BFS.11
Only six of the laboratories in the study
were accredited.12 The Auditor found
that several labs lacked a number of the
features required by ASCLD/LAB standards,
noting the absence of comprehensive qua­
lity control systems and proficiency testing
or court monitoring programs. Many of
the labs operated in cramped facilities and
relied on outmoded equipment. And
several labs lacked an effective case man­
agementinformationsystem;ninedidnot
have documented staff training programs.
The Auditor recommended that the laboratories consolidate or regionalize some services and
consolidate laboratories within a specific region. Further, the report acknowledged that cor­
recting the identified deficiencies would be costly, concluding that the Legislature would have
to determine whether the goal of universal accreditation warranted state funding, and if so,
what constraints and priorities such funding would require.
The 2003 Attorney General’s Study
Less than five years after the State Auditor’s report was issued, former Attorney General Bill
Lockyer created the California Task Force on Forensic Services “to assess the current status of
California’s crime laboratories and to identify the changes necessary to ensure the system has
the capacity and expertise to deliver timely and accurate forensic services into the future.”13
The Lockyer Task Force examined all the county and local labs surveyed by the State Auditor,
but also reviewed the 13 laboratories operated by BFS. Members of the Lockyer Task Force
included representatives from the Attorney General’s Office and BFS, the Governor’s Office
of Criminal Justice Planning, the League of California Cities, prosecutors’ offices, law enforce­
ment, and crime labs. The Lockyer Task Force gathered information by sending surveys to
crime lab directors, law enforcement officials, and district attorneys.14 Surveys were also sent
to state-level forensic laboratories in the 10 largest states, five of which responded.
The Lockyer Task Force found that as of June 2003, all but seven of California’s government
crime labs had been accredited by ASCLD/LAB, a result attributed in part to a requirement
of accreditation or a certified intent to seek accreditation to qualify for federal improvement
California State Auditor, Bureau of State Audits, Forensic Laboratories: Many Face Challenges Beyond Accreditation to
Assure the Highest Quality Services (Dec. 1998) <http://www.bsa.ca.gov/pdfs/reports/97025.pdf >.
12
The report did not identify the accredited laboratories nor did it specify which labs were found deficient in various areas.
13
California Task Force on Forensic Services, Under the Microscope (Aug. 2003)
<http://www.ag.ca.gov/publications/bfs_bookmarks.pdf >.
14
Responseswereobtainedfrom150lawenforcementagenciesand19districtattorney’soffices;thedatarequestedwas
for fiscal year 2000–2001. Public defenders were not surveyed because they rarely request forensic services from public
crime labs (Under the Microscope, at fn. 1.).
11
12
grants.15 Although the Lockyer Task Force concluded that the system of providing forensic ser­
vices through local jurisdictions and the state “appears to function effectively,” it nonetheless
recognized that the state’s crime labs “have significant needs that must be met in order for
forensic services to continue to improve and meet the demands of the criminal justice system.”
The Lockyer Task Force urged the development of a “unified strategy for future improve­
ments” in order to “ensure that the most effective possible use is made of public resources.”16
Among the report’s specific recommendations was the creation of an ongoing representative
body to develop a shared vision for California’s forensic services delivery system and a master
plan for implementing that vision. In addition, the Lockyer Task Force report recommended
the following:
• Allpubliclaboratoriesshouldbeaccreditedandthatqualityassuranceandappropriate
training standards be developed for disciplines practiced outside forensic laboratories,
including crime scene and latent fingerprint units.
• ThestateshouldsupporttrainingbytheCaliforniaCriminalisticsInstitute(CCI).
• In-servicetrainingprogramsshouldbeaugmentedandpublicuniversitiesshouldbe
encouraged to support research and professional education in the forensic sciences.
• Stateandlocalagenciesshouldconsiderworkingtowardregionalizationofsome
services where appropriate.17
The California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice
In 2004, one year after issuance of the Lockyer Task Force report, the Legislature passed
Senate Resolution 44, which created the California Commission on the Fair Administration of
Justice (CCFAJ). Former California Attorney General John Van de Kamp chaired the privately
funded commission, and it included representatives from law enforcement, prosecutors’
offices, defense counsel, the private bar, universities, the judiciary, and the public. The
Commission was tasked with reviewing the administration of criminal justice in California to
determine the extent to which the system had failed, resulting in wrongful convictions of
innocent persons. The Commission also examined ways of improving the criminal justice
system and made recommendations designed to ensure the fair, just, and accurate adminis­
tration of the criminal justice system.
As part of its review, the Commission heard testimony and issued a report and recommen­
dations on forensic scientific evidence.18 Specifically, the CCFAJ report recommended the
following:
• Crimelabdirectorsshouldencouragethecertificationofallforensicexperts.
• Districtattorneysorotherprosecutorialagenciesshouldinvestigateandreporton
allegations of professional negligence or misconduct that would affect the integrity
of a public crime lab.
See42U.S.C.section3797j–3797o;Under the Microscope, at p. 19.
Under the Microscope, at pp. 66, 69.
17
Under the Microscope, at pp. 72–77.
18
California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, Official Report and Recommendations on Forensic Science
Evidence (May 2007) <http://www.ccfaj.org/documents/reports/problems/official/
OFFICIAL%20REPORT%20ON%20FORENSIC%20SCIENCE%20EVIDENCE.pdf>.
15
16
13
• Agovernmentalagencyorcommissionshouldbecreatedwiththeauthoritytoformulate and apply statewide standards for criminalists.
• Trainingprogramsontheuseofforensicscientificevidenceshouldbeprovidedfor
prosecutors, defense counsel, judges, and police investigators.19
The California Crime Laboratory Review Task Force
Creation and Mandate
In October 2007, before issuance of the CCFAJ report on scientific evidence, the Legislature
passed and the Governor signed AB 1079, which added section 11062 to the California Penal
Code.20 The legislation created the California Crime Laboratory Review Task Force, which was
directed to “review and make recommendations as to how best to configure, fund, and
improve the delivery of state and local crime laboratory services in the future.” The Task
Force mandate identified various issues involving the organization and management of crime
laboratory services, staff and training, funding, and performance standards and equipment.
In addition, the Task Force was ordered to include in its final report “a complete inventory
of existing California crime laboratories” with details on staffing, workload, budget, major
instrumentation, and organizational placement within the controlling agency.21
The statute required the Department of Justice to establish and chair the Task Force. In
addition, the statute provided that the Governor, specified legislators, various state agencies,
and other organizations would appoint members. The membership represents a broad range
of stakeholders involved in crime lab issues, including lab directors, criminalists, law enforce­
ment officials, prosecutors, defense counsel, educators, and the judiciary. All staff assistance
for the Task Force was provided by the Department of Justice.
Methodology
To compile the mandated inventory and gather information necessary to complete its report,
the Task Force drafted a comprehensive 19-page survey that was sent to each major crime lab
operated by state, county, or local agencies.22 The labs proved to be tremendously coopera­
tive and all returned the surveys. Task Force members then scheduled on-site meetings with
the laboratory directors, conducted interviews and toured the facilities, and prepared sum­
maries of the interviews.23 In addition, separate surveys were sent to all California district
attorneys and county sheriffs, to a representative sample of local police departments, and to
county public defenders and other defense organizations.24 A large number of surveys were
returned, providing a wealth of useful data.25
California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, Official Report, at pp. 65–66.
The CCFAJ endorsed AB 1079.
21
See Penal Code section 11062, set forth in Appendix B.
22
A list of the crime labs is included in Chapter 2 of this report. A copy of the survey is included as Appendix C. The
State Auditor and Lockyer Task Force reports included the Huntington Beach Police Department Crime Lab in their
review, although the Lockyer report noted that the lab had reduced its services and ransferred much of its workload to
the Orange County Sheriff’s lab. This Task Force determined that the size and caseload did not warrant inclusion of
Huntington Beach in the survey.
23
All survey responses and interview summaries are included on a DVD that accompanies this report.
24
Copies of the surveys are included as Appendices D and E.
25
Responses were received from district attorney’s offices, county sheriff’s offices, police departments, and defender
organizations. All the stakeholder survey responses are included on a DVD that accompanies this report.
19
20
14
The Task Force held monthly meetings from December 2007 through September 2009, with
several meetings hosted by crime lab directors. All meetings were open to the public. The
members heard presentations from various organizations and individuals with expertise in
theareasofcrimelaboversight,ethics,andmanagement;accreditationandcertification;and
forensic education and training. Interested members of the public in attendance also provided
valuable input.26 Task Force subcommittees drafted report sections on specific topics, and
drafts were revised following public discussions. The entire report draft was discussed in three
public sessions and reflects the consensus of the Task Force members.
Other Considerations
Clearly, many of the shortcomings and needs identified by the surveys require additional fund­
ing for new or expanded facilities, equipment upgrades, additional staffing, and continued
education and training. Given current fiscal constraints and the vagaries of public funding,
however, the Task Force focused on improving the delivery of forensic services within existing
budgetary constraints. As discussed later in this report, potential immediate and beneficial
actions could include consolidation of some services, better education of stakeholders on
the uses and limits of forensic evidence, and firm limits on case evidence items to be tested.
Nonetheless, a commitment to effective crime lab services will inevitably require adequate
funding at both the state and local level. The Task Force has identified areas where enhanced
funding efforts are most critical.
Although not explicitly included in the mandate of AB 1079, it became clear during the Task
Force review that California must consider the need for, and role of, a statewide forensic
science commission or advisory board. To that end, the Task Force heard presentations from
Sacramento County District Attorney’s Forensic Services Laboratory
26
A list of the presentations is set forth in Appendix G.
15
representatives of several state commissions and reviewed documents pertaining to the
responsibilities and operation of all currently existing commissions. Their roles ranged from
merely advisory to statewide control of all forensic services to oversight for complaints and
operating standards. While not all Task Force members agreed on the scope of a commission,
the members unanimously recognized the need for some ongoing statewide effort to coor­
dinate and facilitate the timely delivery of reliable forensic science services in California. The
complexity and significance of this issue warrants further study, as set forth in Chapter 6 of
this report.
Finally, two other studies shaped the direction of the Task Force’s investigation and final
report. First, in January 2008, the United States Department of Justice’s Office of the
Inspector General issued a report on state and local oversight of crime labs receiving funding
from the Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grants Program.27 The Inspector
General concluded that the congressional requirement for a process of external investigation
into allegations of serious negligence or misconduct by a lab receiving Coverdell funds was not
being adequately enforced in many jurisdictions. The report recommended changes to ensure
labs comply with the investigation requirements. (The Inspector General’s findings were
examined in more detail by the Innocence Project in a report issued in 2009.28) Without find­
ing that any state or local oversight procedures identified by California crime labs were out
of compliance with the Coverdell requirements, the Task Force still concluded that statewide
investigatory procedures merit further consideration.
Second, in February 2009, the National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council
released Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward, a long-awaited
study on forensic science (referred to as the NAS report).29 The report, which covers a broad
range of issues related to the operation of crime labs and the role of forensic evidence, con­
tinues to spark widespread discussion and debate throughout the forensic science community
and has been a valuable resource for the Task Force.
United States Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General, Review of the Office of Justice Programs’ Paul
Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grants Program, Evaluation and Inspections Report (Jan. 2008)
<http://www.usdoj.gov/oig/reports/OJP/e0801/>.
28
The Innocence Project, Investigating Forensic Problems in the United States: How the Federal Government Can Strengthen
Oversight Through the Coverdell Grant Program (Mar. 11, 2009)
<http://www.innocenceproject.org/docs/CoverdellReport.pdf >.
29
National Academy of Sciences, Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward (Feb. 2009)
<http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12589#toc>. The recommendations made in the NAS report are set forth
in Appendix H.
27
16
Chapter 2
Organization
and Management
The Task Force was created by the Legislature to study and report on the delivery of forensic
services by the state, county, and local crime labs. Therefore, the Task Force did not explore
the numerous private laboratories, both in and outside of California, that provide such services
to law enforcement, prosecutors, and defense counsel.30
In addition, the Task Force decided not to survey the numerous crime scene, fingerprint, fire­
arm, and other specialized units operated by many police and sheriff’s departments. Although
issues pertaining to these disciplines, such as training and certification, are discussed in the
context of the larger crime labs, the Task Force did not have sufficient resources to fully exam­
ine smaller stand-alone units.
Finally, the Task Force received survey responses from the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Of­
fice, the San Diego and San Francisco Medical Examiners, and the Wildlife Forensic Laboratory
of the California Department of Fish and Game.31 The Task Force greatly appreciated their as­
sistance and found the information they provided useful for research. However, the Task Force
determined that their operations were not covered by the scope of the mandate and have not
specifically discussed those laboratories in the report. Nonetheless, many of the findings and
recommendations will apply to their operations.
The crime laboratories addressed by this report are managed by their respective control­
ling governmental agencies at the state, county, or local level. The labs’ parent agencies are
responsible for supervision and funding. The organizational details for each of the laboratories
are set forth in their survey responses and are summarized as follows.
State of California
The Bureau of Forensic Services (BFS) is part of the Division of Law Enforcement (DLE) within
the California Department of Justice. The chief of BFS reports to the director of DLE. The BFS
Many of the surveys, from both labs and the various stakeholders, identified instances in which private laboratories
have been used for forensic services, most often for DNA analysis. Other government agencies, such as the FBI or the
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, maintain forensic laboratories that may also be used for special
investigations.
31
The director of the Wildlife Forensic Laboratory served as a member of the Task Force.
30
17
regional lab system was established in 1972 to provide service to those counties and clients
that could not reasonably afford, or lacked the workload to support, their own forensic scien­
tists or laboratories.
BFS operates 10 regional laboratories, the Jan Bashinski DNA laboratory in Richmond, a latent
print and questioned document laboratory in Sacramento, a toxicology laboratory in Sacra­
mento, and a training center, the California Criminalistics Institute. The regional laboratories
provide a broad range of forensic services to various county and local agencies that do not
have access to other labs. The Jan Bashinski DNA laboratory is responsible for DNA casework,
as well as administration of the state’s DNA Data Bank Program and Missing Persons Data
Bank Program. DNA casework analysis is also performed in five regional laboratories: Central
Valley, Fresno, Sacramento, Redding, and Riverside.
Counties
The 11 laboratories run by counties are organized under one of two models.32 Eight county
labs are operated by the county sheriff’s office and provide services throughout the county
except for cities that maintain their own labs. Three other county labs are operated by their
district attorney’s office and provide a similar level of support. In some instances, county labs
provide forensic services to other counties on a contract basis.
Cities
Six of the labs studied by the Task Force are operated by municipal police departments and
primarily serve the needs of the cities in which they are located. They may share some respon­
sibility for certain disciplines with county or state BFS labs.
32
An exception is Orange County, whose crime lab is governed by a board consisting of the sheriff, the district attorney, and
the county chief executive officer.
18
Crime Laboratory Survey Respondents
Alameda County Sheriff’s Office Criminalistics Laboratory
BFS Central Valley Laboratory (Ripon)
BFS Chico Crime Laboratory
BFS Freedom Crime Laboratory (Watsonville)
BFS Fresno Regional Laboratory
BFS Jan Bashinski DNA Laboratory (Richmond)
BFS Latent Print & Questioned Document Laboratory (Sacramento)
BFS Northstate Laboratory (Eureka)
BFS Redding Crime Laboratory
BFS Riverside Crime Laboratory
BFS Sacramento Crime Laboratory
BFS Santa Barbara Crime Laboratory (Goleta)
BFS Santa Rosa Crime Laboratory
BFS Toxicology Laboratory (Sacramento)
California Department of Fish and Game Wildlife Forensic Laboratory
Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Department Forensic Services Division
El Cajon Police Department Forensic Laboratory
Fresno County Sheriff’s Office Forensic Laboratory
Kern County District Attorney’s Regional Criminalistics Laboratory
Los Angeles County Coroner Forensic Science Services
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Scientific Services Bureau
Los Angeles Police Department Criminalistics Laboratory
Los Angeles Police Department Technical Laboratory (Latent Print)
Los Angeles Police Department Technical Laboratory (Photo)
Long Beach Police Department Crime Laboratory
Oakland Police Department Criminalistics Laboratory
Orange County Sheriff-Coroner
Sacramento County District Attorney’s Forensic Sciences Laboratory
San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner
San Diego County Medical Examiner
San Diego Police Department Crime Laboratory
San Diego County Sheriff’s Department Regional Crime Laboratory
San Francisco Medical Examiner
San Francisco Police Department Criminalistics Laboratory
San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office Forensic Laboratory
Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Crime Laboratory
Ventura County Sheriff’s Department Forensic Sciences Laboratory
19
20
Chapter 3
Staff and Training
Recruitment and Retention33
The surveys indicated that the recruitment of new staff and the retention of valuable trained
staff is a growing concern among California crime laboratories. Therefore, the Task Force
sought to examine the problems and potential solutions relating to recruitment and retention
that were identified in the course of this study. To address recruitment, the Task Force focused
on the problem of low pay at the entry level, which was a primary concern expressed by
both state and local labs experiencing recruitment difficulties. The Task Force also addressed
another common problem: the excessive length of time to hire new staff, which causes many
qualified applicants to accept other, or more lucrative, job offers.
The Task Force also examined the factors affecting retention. By studying the laboratories
with the best retention rates, the Task Force determined several factors that increase retention
of trained forensic scientists, such as higher salaries, support for professional development,
and increased opportunities for training and career advancement.
Methodology
Surveys sent to California’s state, county, and city crime laboratories requested a list of the
technical position titles, their salaries, and the number of allocated and filled full-time em­
ployees for each technical position. The lab directors were also asked to provide comments
on what they perceived as problems relating to both recruitment of new technical staff and
their retention. This section of the report summarizes their responses and provides recom­
mendations for addressing recruitment and retention.
The table of comparative salaries set forth in Appendix I was compiled for the Task Force by
the California Association of Criminalists (CAC) from its 2008–2009 salary survey. This table
includes the salary ranges, retirement formulas, and other benefits that personnel in each
classification receive.
Discussion
Salaries
Many laboratory directors stated that the salaries are too low to attract and retain qualified
staff. This problem is evident in high-cost regions, most notably the Bay Area (see Figure 1).
33
Information provided by Task Force member Jeff Rodzen.
21
The Richmond BFS lab is a good case study for this problem. The lab reported that low salary
is a serious issue because a large proportion of its staff cannot afford to live in the high-cost
Bay Area. Many live in the Central Valley and commute. Moreover, criminalists use that par­
ticular lab for DNA training and then leave for other higher paying labs in the Bay Area, or they
transfer to other BFS labs in areas with a lower cost of living (i.e., Sacramento or Riverside).
Figure 1
January 2009 County Median Home Price and “Journeyman Criminalist”
Salaries by Agency34
$600,000
$500,000
$400,000
$300,000
$200,000
$100,000
2009 Median Home Price
Journeyman Criminalist
Kern SO
Fresno SO
CA DOJ - Ripon
San Bernardino SO
CDFG - Sacramento
CA DOJ - Sacramento
Sacramento DA
CA DOJ - Richmond
Contra Costa SO
San Diego PD
San Diego SO
Long Beach PD
Los Angeles PD
Los Angeles SO
Oakland PD
Alameda SO
Ventura SO
CA DOJ - Freedom
Orange County SO
Santa Clara DA
San Mateo SO
SFPD
$0
Linear (2009 Median Home Price)
Sources:
2009 January median home prices – California Association of Realtors
2008 criminalist income – California Association of Criminalists
Note: The 2009 January home price data was not available for Shasta and Humboldt counties; therefore, the Department of Justice
labs in Redding and Eureka are not presented.
To attract and retain more criminalists at the Richmond lab, BFS must offer competitive
salaries. The Fresno BFS lab expressed concern about low retention due to the lack of
competitive salaries and suggested “pay differentials” for certain labs, such as Richmond.
Further, both the BFS Sacramento toxicology lab and the California Department of Fish and
Game forensics lab stated that low entry pay is a major barrier to recruitment, thus their
applicant pool has been very shallow and they have had to start new hires at the top of the
pay range.
34
Figure 1 displays the top annual salary of a “full journeyman” criminalist or forensic scientist versus the January 2009
median home price of each lab’s county location. The California Department of Justice BFS labs appear multiple times
because that agency has many labs across the state.
22
In contrast to Richmond, some BFS labs do not believe low salary is a major issue. The
Redding and Riverside BFS labs both stated that salaries are not the major issue in retention,
but that criminalists left for various other reasons.
Most of the local (county and city) labs did not report salary being a major issue, though they
did state that employees have occasionally left for other higher paying labs. The main excep­
tions were the Alameda County, Sacramento County District Attorney, Santa Clara County
District Attorney, San Mateo County, and Long Beach Police Department labs, all of which
stated that their entry-level salaries are too low to attract qualified staff. Lower salaries
crippled competitiveness with other labs, and salaries were too low in light of the cost of living
in their geographic areas. Even the San Francisco Police Department lab, which has the
highest paid forensic scientists in California, reported that their entry-level salaries present
recruiting problems because San Francisco is one of the most expensive areas to reside in the
state.
The disparity of salaries across the state can be analyzed quantitatively. A possible model
to assist labs in justifying salary increases for their criminalists is presented below. Figure 1,
above, shows the 2008 journeyman level salaries for each lab regressed against median home
prices. A significant relationship exists when comparing salaries to median home prices.
Further analysis, set forth in Table 1, indicates that the following labs would have to adjust
their pay upward by the following amounts to meet the statewide average pay when the lab’s
county of residence is considered.
Table 1
Actual Salary Compared to Predicted Salary
Agency
Journeyman Salary
(Actual)
Predicted Salary
Salary Disparity
Orange County SO
$94,992
$95,012
-$20
Fresno County SO
$85,332
$85,620
-$288
BFS Ripon (Central Valley)
$85,128
$85,705
-$577
San Diego PD
$90,552
$91,195
-$643
BFS Sacramento
$85,128
$86,263
-$1,135
Ventura County SO
$92,112
$93,554
-$1,442
San Mateo County SO
$99,228
$100,931
-$1,703
Kern County SO
$81,480
$84,762
-$3,282
BFS Richmond
$85,128
$88,622
-$3,494
San Francisco PD
$95,652
$103,247
-$7,595
Sacramento County DA
$78,012
$86,263
-$8,251
BFS Freedom (Watsonville)
$85,128
$94,412
-$9,284
Long Beach PD
$82,128
$92,053
-$9,925
CA Fish and Game
$75,252
$86,263
-$11,011
23
While the actual dollar amounts will vary somewhat from year to year, this analysis provides
a workable model to use for adjusting salaries upward to make underpaid labs more
competitive.
Retirement Rates
Retirement rates for the various classifications in different jurisdictions are presented in
Appendix I. There is a substantial variation, ranging from the standard peace officer retire­
ment rate of 3 percent per year at age 50, to 2 percent per year at age 55. While new hires
just beginning their careers may not pay much attention to their agency’s retirement formula,
it may be an issue for forensic scientists who have several years vested in their careers and
may want to transfer to another agency that has a more lucrative retirement formula. Not all
agencies use the same retirement system, however, and therefore service credit may not be
directly transferable. Thus, this may be more a retention issue than a recruitment issue.
Length of Time Before Hiring
Nearly all the surveyed labs stated that their respective agencies take too much time to hire
new staff. The lead time varies from several months to a year or more. Following application
and a successful examination process for the job series, an applicant waits for results, may
have to wait for an actual vacancy to occur, then be interviewed, and finally be subject to a
background check that may take months to complete. The long delay in hiring is a major con­
tributor to recruitment problems because many applicants may have found other employment
in the interim. A continuous open examination process could alleviate some of these issues.
In addition, the California Department of Justice noted that a major delay is incurred while the
medical reviews of each applicant are conducted. The state apparently has only one individual
available to review all the medical backgrounds for BFS criminalist applicants and is backlogged
several months.
Lack of Qualified Applicants
Many lab representatives noted that criminalist candidates lack appropriate scientific
knowledge. While most lab directors felt that the University of California (UC) and California
State University (CSU) systems sufficiently prepare candidates, they also felt that the candidates
needed a better understanding of their respective scientific fields. Nearly all the labs surveyed
indicated that they prefer candidates with a bachelor of science degree in a hard science as a
minimum credential, as opposed to a degree in “forensic science.” And many job applicants
apply for positions they know very little about but find attractive because of the “CSI effect,”
which causes some jurors to expect more forensic evidence in court. Oftentimes the lack of
specific subject matter knowledge is not apparent until the time of interview, which is well
into the hiring process.
Other labs report that those with a criminalistics background tend to interview better than
someonefromachemistryorbiologybackground;however,itisuncertainwhetheruniversi­
ties are the best vehicle to provide subject-matter-specific instruction. In general, universities
may be better suited to provide broad education in science, critical thinking, and analytical
skills, leaving the more pragmatic professional training to laboratories. Also, because of the
lack of a steady stream of qualified applicants, agencies often fill technician positions from the
criminalist applicants list.
24
Another common complaint is that individuals who have worked in other labs or who may
have valuable skills too often are not reachable on hiring lists, resulting from misinterpretation
of resumes by human resources personnel or changes in class specifications that were made
without the lab management’s approval. There appears to be a substantial disconnect
between the labs and their agencies’ human resources divisions, and several labs reported
that this was a serious problem.
The lack of qualified applicants is a complicated problem and not easily remedied. The
Education section of this report addresses related concerns in more detail.
Elimination of Applicants by Background Checks
Many crime lab applicants fail to pass a background check and are eliminated from the can­
didate pool. One Southern California public lab expressed dissatisfaction in the strict hiring
standards of its agency, noting that candidates were disqualified for drug use that occurred
10 to 15 years before, despite present
employment at another public crime lab.
Nevertheless, the Task Force recognizes
that background checks are necessary
because of the sensitive and critical role
criminalists play in the criminal justice
system. Mistakes or lack of professional
standards by forensics professionals can
lead, in a worst-case scenario, to wrongful
convictions. The Task Force suggests that
candidates, as well as those still in college
who wish to become forensic scientists,
be better informed that any association
with criminal activity or lack of personal
responsibility could preclude them from
future employment in a crime lab.
One problem is that different labs and agencies have varying standards for disqualifying
applicants. One lab director stated that his agency would not permit his lab to hire an
experienced, highly qualified candidate because the candidate had used drugs more than a
decade before, even if the candidate was already employed by another crime lab. It was his
experience that this rigid standard may cause applicants to provide false or misleading
information, while disqualifying those individuals who provide honest information.
In addition, students often complete the education required to become analysts only to later
learn that they are disqualified from employment in a lab, usually due to past misconduct.
Informing students about the most common disqualifiers at the outset would eliminate the
unnecessary training of students who may never be eligible to work in a crime lab.
Need for Additional Support Staff
Many labs reported that their agencies need additional support and clerical staff to handle
administrative issues so that the forensics staff can devote more time to actually performing
casework. Some labs stated that this is one of the factors contributing to “burnout” of their
forensics staff, as mentioned below.
25
Burnout from Heavy Workload
Forensics professionals tend to leave the field because of the heavy workload and high level
of responsibilities placed on them. Many forensic scientists are also required to process crime
scenes, prepare documents for the courts, and perform managerial and other tasks, in addi­
tion to the demand of casework, much of which is time-sensitive in light of trial schedules.
Heavy workload was reported as a major retention issue by many labs, and adding more
managerial and secretarial staff to assist with non-technical functions would allow forensic
scientists to focus on actual casework.
Lack of Scientific or Professional Advancement
Many survey respondents cited the absence of opportunities for scientific or professional ad­
vancement within laboratories as a major retention issue. Because there is a tendency to train
an analyst in only one forensic discipline, many analysts eventually become dissatisfied with the
monotony of their professional routine. This monotony is often coupled with a lack of oppor­
tunity for advancement. Some reporting labs stated, and the Task Force agrees, that forensic
scientists should receive more training opportunities and time to attend professional meetings.
Continuing education, addressed in the Education section of this report, may be a key compo­
nent in handling institutional stagnation.
Requirement of “Quantitative Analysis” Coursework
“Quantitative analysis” is an upper-division analytical chemistry course that is a minimum
requirement for state criminalists and many local crime lab technical positions. Dating to the
1960s, the course was originally required under the California Code of Regulations35 for ana­
lysts who perform blood alcohol analysis. Over time, the curriculum of most universities has
evolved, and this course is no longer available at most UC campuses. However, it is listed in
the course catalogs of some CSU campuses and local junior colleges.
Enforcement of this requirement varies between agencies. Some agencies will hire a new ana­
lyst if the analyst can produce a statement from his or her university certifying that the course
material of “quantitative analysis” was included in other chemistry coursework. Other agen­
cies are more rigid. In addition, some lab directors believe this course is a barrier to recruit­
ment while others feel that it teaches analytical skills necessary for anyone performing forensic
analyses. This issue is most prevalent for the constantly increasing staff of “DNA only” ana­
lysts, most of whom are trained in the universities as molecular biologists, as opposed to the
toxicologists who were traditionally trained as chemists.
Some labs indicated that this course requirement is a barrier to recruitment because graduates
of the UC system and some CSU campuses have not had the opportunity to take this course.
An applicant conceivably could read a job announcement that requires a course titled “quan­
titative analysis” and not apply because the applicant had attended a college where it was no
longer offered. However, if the announcement contained “quantitative analysis or equivalent
coursework,” more applicants could apply if they had taken other analytical or upper-division
chemistry courses.
35
California Code of Regulations, Title 17, Division 1, Chapter 2, Subchapter 1, Group 8, Forensic Alcohol Analysis and
Breath Alcohol Analysis, articles 1–8, sections 1215–1222.
26
The opinions of the various lab directors varied on the course requirement, so the Task Force
concluded that enforcement of this requirement should be left to the lab directors’ discretion.
Further, the formation of the Forensic Alcohol Review Task Force created under section 6 of
Senate Bill (SB) 1623 (Johnson 2004) will address this requirement in more detail in the future.
Recommendations
• Publiccrimelabsshouldconsidertheappropriateemployeeclassificationoftheir
forensic science professionals, and they should determine whether their salaries should
be based on a model that compares salaries offered by similar-sized public agencies in
relevant jurisdictions. For example, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) sets pay rates
according to averages of several of the largest local agencies. The CHP currently
uses the officer pay of the Oakland Police Department, the San Francisco Police
Department, the Los Angeles Police Department and Sheriff’s Department, and the
San Diego Police Department as a baseline for their salary rates. The lower-paying
municipal labs could also use the average of the competing agencies’ salaries because
several of them fell below the geographically adjusted average.
• Labsshouldconsidertheuseoflaboratorymeritsystemsthatofferhigherpaytothose
who have advanced degrees and who demonstrate a willingness to participate in
research projects that advance forensic science. Such incentives would be particularly
appropriate for individuals who desire to promote to supervisory or management
positions within the lab.
• Labsthatcurrentlydonotofferpayincentivesforindividualanalyststoachievecertification or assume technical lead duties should consider adopting incentives. Several
municipal labs offer these incentives to retain their most qualified staff members.
• AllpubliccrimelabsinCaliforniashouldconsideradoptingacommonformulafor
calculating retirement benefits applicable to their forensic science professionals.
• Labsshouldgiveforensicscientistsmoreopportunitiestocross-trainondifferent
disciplines and to attend and participate in professional meetings.
• Thecontrollingagencies’humanresourcesunitsshouldworkmorecloselywiththe
laboratory managers to find ways to expedite the testing process. In addition, a
greater involvement and understanding by human resources staff regarding lab
processes would benefit both the lab and human resources. For example, one lab
manager appropriately suggested that human resources staff take a more active role
in understanding the mission and procedures that occur in a lab to develop a rationale
for a more rapid hiring cycle.
• Variouslabsandparentagenciesshouldinvestigateestablishinguniformbackground
standards for forensic scientists. Each agency should publish the particular background
standards a candidate is required to satisfy, allowing candidates to avoid time spent
submitting—and allow labs to avoid time spent evaluating—an ineligible application.
• Labsshouldstreamlinethebackgroundcheckprocessforcriminalistpositionapplicants
and coordinate with parent agencies to allocate additional resources to the back­
ground investigation unit.
27
• Labsshouldjoinaninteragencyefforttocoordinatebackgroundinvestigationsof
common applicants, share information, and reduce redundancy. This cooperative effort
would be facilitated by adoption of a set of industry-wide background standards. The
Task Force suggests that the California Association of Crime Laboratory Directors
(CACLD) draft these standards and issue recommendations to public laboratories
statewide.
Education36
The Task Force’s enabling legislation, Penal Code section 11062, requires consideration of sev­
eral subjects related to the education and training of California’s forensic science professionals.
Specifically, this section of the report will consider:
•
•
•
Whethereducationalandtrainingopportunitiesareadequatetosupplytheneedsof
fullytrainedforensiccriminalistsinthefuture;
Whethercontinuingeducationisavailabletoensurethatforensicsciencepersonnelare
uptodateintheirfieldsofexpertise;and
Thefutureeducationalrole,ifany,fortheUniversityofCaliforniaorCaliforniaState
University systems.
Methodology
The Task Force collected information on education and training in its written surveys of crime
laboratory directors, as well as through interviews with laboratory directors and section heads.
The Task Force also solicited information from directors of forensic science training programs
at several California State University campuses and the University of California, Davis. At the
February 5, 2009, Task Force meeting, a number of prominent California forensic science
educators made presentations regarding their educational programs and their views of forensic
science education. In addition, members of the Task Force reviewed and considered several
reports that address the issue of forensic science education and training including, importantly,
the 2009 NAS report.
Discussion
It is widely agreed that forensic scientists of the 21st century need college- or university-level
training in scientific principles and practices and the scientific method. However, that college
and university training is often not enough.
California’s lab directors have identified several key deficiencies in the preparation of entrylevel staff, most of whom are recent college graduates. According to lab directors, entry-level
staff often lack:
•
•
•
36
Anadequateappreciationofwhatcrimelabworkentails;
Basic“real-world”skillssuchascriticalthinking,problemsolving,andconflict
resolution; Sufficienttrainingininstrumentanalysis;
Information provided by Task Force members Arturo Castro and William Thompson.
28
•
•
•
•
•
Adequatetraininginparticulardisciplines,suchaslatentprintanalysisandcrimescene
investigation;
Traininginquantitativeanalysisandforensicstatistics;
Sufficienttraininginwrittenandoralcommunicationskillsandreportwriting;
Appreciationoftheroleofforensicscienceinthelegalsystemasawholeandinside
thecourtroom;and
Knowledgeofethicalprinciples,legalstandardsandrules,andhowtotestifyincourt.
Current University Programs in Forensic Science
California State University, Los Angeles
http://www.calstatela.edu/exed/profdeve/forensicscience.htm
California State University, Fresno
http://www.csufresno.edu/forensicscience/
California State University, East Bay
http://www.csueastbay.edu/ecat/current/u-chem.html#section2
California State University, Fullerton
http://www.csufextension.org/Classes/certificate/CertDetail.aspx?GN=3120&GV=4
California State University, San Jose
http://www.sjsu.edu/justicestudies/Programs/forensic_science_undergrad/index.htm
University of California, Davis
http://forensicscience.ucdavis.edu/
Undergraduate Training
Although applicants with undergraduate degrees in forensic science tend to interview well
and have a better background in the practical aspects of lab work, most lab directors prefer
candidates who have a degree in a traditional science discipline such as biology or chemistry.37
Traditional science majors are more likely to understand the scientific principles behind the
methods being used and are better able to troubleshoot technical issues and develop new
methods when needed. And, while specific laboratory methods and practices can be taught
on the job, remedial training in basic scientific principles is an impracticably large task.
Conversely, traditional science majors may lack adequate training in specific areas that are
important to their professional development, such as quantitative analysis, instrument analysis,
or forensic statistics, and often they have had less bench experience than desired. Often their
37
Several lab directors were critical of unaccredited programs in “forensic science” operated by private, for-profit
universities. In their view, these programs offer inadequate, watered-down coursework in science that does not prepare
students adequately to enter the field. They suggested that these programs are little more than “diploma mills” and may
be misleading students seeking careers in the field.
29
training was with instrumentation and techniques that are different from those implemented
in forensic labs. Moreover, they know less than forensic science majors about forensic science
disciplines and the role of forensic science in the legal system. Consequently, additional train­
ing is necessary to prepare any entry-level employee for casework responsibilities, regardless
of educational focus.
Lab directors offered a number of suggestions to improve education and training at the under­
graduate level. These suggestions include the following:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Developforensicscienceminorstocomplementtraditionalsciencemajors;
Increasethequalityandrigorofthebasicsciencecoursesinforensicsciencemajors;
Improvetraininginquantitativeanalysisandforensicstatistics;38
Hiremoreinstructorswithpracticalexperienceinforensicscience;
Discouragestudentswhowouldbeunqualifiedforworkinpublicforensiclaboratories
(e.g.,duetocriminalconvictions)frompursuingdegreesinforensicscience;
Providemoretraininginbasicprinciplesofevidence,lawandlegalrules(e.g.,admissibilitystandards),experttestimony,andethics;and
Enhancecommunicationswiththeforensicsciencecommunityaboutitsneeds.
In 2004, the American Academy of Forensic Sciences established a standing committee known
at the Forensic Science Education Program Accreditation Commission (FEPAC), which estab­
lished a process for accrediting undergraduate and graduate forensic science programs. The
FEPAC standards for undergraduate education are designed to ensure that students (1) obtain
athoroughgroundinginthenaturalsciences;(2)buildonthisbackgroundbytakingaseries
ofmoreadvancedscienceclasses;and(3)developanappreciationofissuesspecifictoforensic
science through coursework and laboratory-based instruction. The Task Force has concluded
that the FEPAC standards provide helpful and appropriate guidance to forensic science
educators and university officials on how to design undergraduate and graduate programs
in forensic science. Therefore, California colleges and universities that offer degrees (or even
minors) in forensic science should be encouraged to seek FEPAC accreditation. To date,
however, no institutions in California have sought this accreditation.
Training Casework-Ready Analysts
California’s lab directors widely agree that, regardless of the type of degree earned, much of
the training essential to successful lab work is provided after hiring. In other words, typical
entry-level employees require extensive additional on-the-job training before they are ready to
engage in casework.
The additional training has several purposes. In disciplines that require comparison of a known
item to a questioned sample, such as latent fingerprints, toolmarks, and other pattern
or impression evidence, new analysts typically go through a lengthy apprenticeship with an
experienced examiner. By observing the judgments of an experienced colleague over a
period of time, new analysts gradually develop their own sense of when to identify the source
38
It was suggested that the courses many college students take in descriptive and inferential statistics do not provide
adequate background for the statistical and quantitative problems criminalists face in the laboratory. The criminalist of
the future will need training in probability and inductive logic, uncertainty principles, error analysis, and Bayesian analysis.
30
of an unknown fingerprint or to declare that marks or impressions were made by a particular
object.39 In disciplines that rely more heavily on instrumentation, new analysts require time
and training to become familiar with the operating characteristics of the specific instruments
available in the laboratory and with the laboratory’s procedures for drawing conclusions from
those instruments. For all new employees, training is needed to become familiar with labora­
tory systems for documentation, chain of custody, reporting, sample handling and retention,
and safety procedures. Training is also needed on how to maintain appropriate professional
relationships with lawyers, how to meet legal obligations with regard to disclosure and
transparency of laboratory work, and how to testify in court.
The time and effort required for on-the-job training of new employees places a serious burden
on forensic laboratories, particularly those that experience high rates of employee turnover.
There often is a lengthy period before the new employee becomes productive. During this
period, other employees become less productive as well because they must devote time to
training, usually in inefficient one-on-one sessions. Moreover, the quality of this training
varies with the teaching skills and experience of the existing employees who are available for
the task.
Finishing Schools
It has become apparent that part of the necessary pre-casework training could take place
more efficiently and less expensively in educational institutions or specialized training
programs. One approach to expedite individual analyst training would be to create a
“finishing school” for new laboratory employees to help bridge the gap between a college
graduate and a fully trained forensic scientist. Such programs could be used to train analysts
before or after a lab has hired them.
One educational model for pre-hire training is the Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center,
which is currently being developed by the California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA).
Under this model, pre-hires with certain science degrees could attend a forensic science
institute to prepare them for work in a lab. Situated adjacent to actual crime labs, the Forensic
Science Institute could combine local crime lab staff with CSULA faculty to provide advanced
training. Pre-hire training, however, may not be as effective as on-the-job training because
some of the training would go “stale” while the trainee awaits employment with a lab,
assuming the trainee is ever hired. Further, in the absence of an employer, the considerable
cost of pre-hire training would be borne by the individual trainee. With no guarantee of future
employment, unemployed recent graduates are not likely to invest in potentially unnecessary
training programs.
Post-hire educational programs could be operated by California’s universities or by the
California Criminalistics Institute (CCI). An educational program in conjunction with CCI could
focus on preparing new employees for lab work, thereby reducing the amount of time and
39
The 2009 NAS report observed that all impression evidence, including fingerprints, necessarily relies at least in part on
the subjective judgments of the examiner based on his or her education, training, and experience (see NAS report, at
pp. 137–142, 146, and 147–150). The NAS report also noted the importance of research designed to validate and
standardize these disciplines. As discussed in this chapter, such research at California universities could be a valuable
contribution to forensic science and further improve the state’s crime labs.
31
resources labs spend on this task. An intensive training program could expose entry-level
employees to the practical and legal aspects of lab work and foster an environment where
actual lab scientists and practitioners could research, develop, and validate new methods, and
instruct fellow practitioners.
Graduate Schools
Yet another approach would be to expand university graduate programs in forensic science so
more students with masters-level training or higher become available for employment in
forensic laboratories. At present, UC Davis and CSULA offer masters programs in forensic
science. Graduates of these programs are in great demand and generally can be integrated
into forensic laboratories more quickly and efficiently than other new employees can. Students
in these programs often do internships and perform thesis research in forensic laboratories,
which allows them to become familiar with laboratory equipment and procedures. And the
research performed by these students is helpful to the forensic laboratories. However, these
programs are currently small and underfunded. They do not come close to meeting the de­
mand for trained entry-level employees, nor are they subsidized by their parent universities.
The 2009 NAS report strongly endorsed
expansion of graduate education in fo­
rensic science, concluding that “[t]raining
should move away from reliance on the
apprentice-like transmittal of practices to
education at the college level and beyond
that is based on scientifically valid
principles . . . .”40 According to the NAS
report, it is vital to the future of forensic
science that stronger connections be
forged between forensic laboratories and
the academic community, and the best way
to forge those connections is to expand
university-level graduate programs in forensic science. Expansion of graduate programs will
notonlyimprovethesupplyoftrainedlaboratoryemployees;theresearchperformedinsuch
programs will improve the scientific foundation for the entire field of forensic science.
Continuing Education and Training
Continuing education for criminalists is essential, and the law enforcement Peace Officer
Standards and Training (POST)41 requirements may be a useful reference point. Some labora­
tories maintain mandatory continuing education protocols for technical staff by discipline,
usually in specified numbers of hours annually. All labs should adopt this practice, and funding
should be allocated accordingly. Most lab directors recognize, however, that current manda­
tory continuing education is inadequate.
40
41
NAS report, at p. 217.
For additional information, see <http://www.post.ca.gov>.
32
In general, California’s crime lab employees need:
•
•
•
•
•
•
Enhancedtechnicaltrainingincertainfields,includingDNA,biology,firearms,trace,
andblood-alcoholinterpretation;
Moretrainingandexperienceregardingcourtroomtestimony;
Additionaltrainingonup-to-datelegalstandardsregardingtheadmissibilityofforensic
evidence;
Trainingforsupervisorsandadministrativestaffregardinglabmanagement;
Eveningandweekendclasses;and
Accesstocrimesceneinvestigationtraining.
California Criminalistics Institute
In 1986, California Penal Code section 11060 authorized the formation of the California
Criminalistics Institute (CCI). CCI is a unit of BFS, and its main facility in Sacramento contains
actual laboratories and a library of reference materials. CCI also has facilities in Richmond and
the CSULA campus. Although it mostly provides specialized forensic science training to state
and local law enforcement personnel, CCI provides some training to private and out-of-state
lab personnel. CCI generally provides literature and analytical reference information to
California’s crime labs, allows casework analysis in instances where sophisticated instrumen­
tation or special knowledge is not otherwise available, and develops and evaluates new
methodologies and equipment. California crime lab personnel are usually not required to pay
tuition, but CCI occasionally charges materials fees. Students from private and out-of-state
labs are charged a daily tuition of $120.
CCI programs are typically one week long. Currently, CCI offers programs in biology, DNA,
chemistry and toxicology, crime scene investigation, firearms and toolmarks, microscopy and
trace evidence, impression evidence, health and safety, and quality assurance. CCI employs
instructors from various agencies, including the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, BFS,
the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and the Los Angeles Police Department forensic
laboratory. Instructors usually teach at no additional cost to CCI. Occasionally, CCI employs
outside experts or consultants, particularly for specialized DNA training, mostly to avoid
diverting lab analysts away from casework. In the future, CCI hopes to develop a training
curriculum for new hires, additional continuing education courses, and an expanded client
base that includes judges and attorneys.
CCI plays a major role in continuing education in the forensic science field. Lab directors
noted, however, that CCI lacks sufficient resources to meet all of California’s continuing
education needs, and it does not offer adequate training in “basic” or “core” subjects such as
controlled substance analysis and alcohol interpretation. Lab directors also felt that CCI should
conduct more research and firearms training and should offer courses more frequently and
consistently. Further, lab directors noted that CCI requires labs to wait too long before being
allowed to send an employee for training.
CCI was originally envisioned to have approximately 20 active program managers. Because
of funding limitations, however, CCI currently operates with only two program managers and
two support staff. Therefore, it is clear that demand for CCI training far exceeds what CCI is
presently able to provide. Many courses are in constant demand, and student waiting lists
are the norm. The cost of maintaining CCI is incorporated into the overall BFS budget, which
33
Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center, CSU Los Angeles
fluctuates from year to year. To complement its unpredictable state funding, CCI actively seeks
independent grant funding, and it was recently awarded a National Institute of Justice grant
for $440,000 to fund its DNA Academy and Firearms and Toolmarks Academy.
Despite inadequate funding, CCI works to distribute training opportunities by region and now
offers several “webinars,” which save on travel costs for students and trainers alike. With
the exception of programs that require hands-on training, a good number of CCI courses are
suitable for webinar instruction. In fact, webinars have greatly increased the overall number
of students that CCI has been able to train in spite of considerable class-size and equipment
limitations.
A possible approach to enhancing CCI training services and availability would be for CCI to
collaborate with California’s state universities. As noted above, this could potentially increase
continuing education resources and funding, and meld the academic expertise of universities
with the practical knowledge of CCI. In conjunction with state universities, CCI may be able
to offer university credits for classes such as DNA, microscopy, and firearms examination. This
collaboration would also solve some regionalization problems, essentially bringing CCI to the
various university campuses across the state, including UC Davis, CSULA, and CSU Fresno. For
example, if CCI were to collaborate with UC Davis, CCI and its students would have access
to the university’s instrumentation, no-cost research projects by graduate students, low-cost
student support, and an electronic library. This would also foster the free flow of technical
information between the university and forensic science communities and improve competi­
tiveness for federal funding.
Ideally, CCI would be fully funded, but if not, another solution could involve enhancing CCI’s
role by developing three regional CCI centers across the state, with instruction supplemented
34
by webinars for distance learning. Each public lab in the state would sign a memorandum of
understanding agreeing to transfer a significant percentage of its in-house training budget to
fund CCI and agreeing to provide experienced criminalists as faculty on a rotating basis and
as a regular part of their responsibilities. This model would essentially make CCI a statewide
crime lab cooperative administered by California’s Department of Justice. In return, CCI would
provide a significant portion of each lab’s entry-level, continuing education, and special topic
training at its three regional centers. The centers would replace most, but not all, of the
in-house training currently provided by individual labs.
Under this model, labs would benefit from not having to use their own staff to prepare and
deliver in-house training at the expense of casework, and students would benefit from
instruction from top criminalists statewide and would not be limited to instruction by in-house
colleagues. The statewide curriculum would be created and vetted by a CCI Board of
Directors to ensure quality instruction and agreed-upon best practices. In addition, students
would receive specialized courses in ethics and courtroom testimony. Laboratory directors on
the Task Force, however, pointed out that this approach might not be feasible in light of small
or nonexistent laboratory training budgets.
The Task Force also noted that CCI could develop a lab management training program. Lab
directors and supervisors are typically promoted from within the lab, yet there are no training
programs available to prepare lab analysts to become directors and supervisors. Such
programs would aid lab “succession” planning and prepare future lab management staff.
Continuing Education in Universities
Most of California’s lab directors agree that there is a shortage of quality continuing education
programs in the California university system. A well-trained analyst requires hands-on research
and practical explanations of the underlying principles. Because specific disciplines are so
specialized, research and continuing education programs are best taught by experts practic­
ing in the field. University-based instructors may have adequate theoretical training, but they
often lack sufficient practical experience and are generally unfamiliar with the basic lab needs.
In-House Training
Some BFS labs reported that continuing education and training conducted in-house by senior
staff and through cross-training with other BFS personnel can be effective but inefficient,
time-consuming, and costly. Also, because of budget constraints, labs have had to cut back
on in-house training opportunities. For some, cross-training by discipline is an ideal source of
continuingeducation;itgreatlybenefitstechnicalstafftoshareinformationandexperiences
through occasional but regular meetings with peers at other laboratories. A nighttime lecture
series on advanced topics (e.g., biology, trace, and firearms) would be a valuable continuing
education resource.
Regionalization
Currently, the availability of undergraduate and continuing education opportunities is very
limited. Labs in certain areas of California, such as the Central Valley, do not have ready access
to educational programs in forensic science and cannot afford to send staff to training that is
not nearby or that would require considerable time away from home. This problem is best
addressed by providing training opportunities in more locations throughout the state.
35
Law Schools
Scientific evidence coursework could be incorporated into California law school offerings, and
law schools could cooperate with local forensic science institutes to provide forensic science
training to law students. In addition, the State Bar Association could offer forensic science
instruction for practicing attorneys and award participating attorneys with Mandatory
Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) credit.42 Law schools could also explore developing
programs in conjunction with graduate-level forensic science programs.
Forensic Science Research
Opinions vary regarding the role that California’s universities should play in forensic science
research. Some believe that California’s universities are not equipped to conduct research and
validation, and generally lack the quality assurance, quality control, and security necessary to
make a validation study worthwhile. Similarly, because the validation process provides valu­
able experience to staff, labs should continue to follow the FBI Quality Assurance Standards
for DNA testing and perform in-house validation studies. Having research, validation, and
development of new methods done in labs produces staff members who fully understand
the information and can testify to each step in the process.
On the other hand, some believe that the demand of maintaining casework productivity in
laboratories leaves too few resources to pursue forensic science research. The National
Academy of Sciences declared recently that certain areas of forensic science need further
study and validation of new techniques and instrumentation. University students, particularly
graduate students, could aid in the validation of existing methods and the development of
new methods. Universities could also be more involved in the study of disciplines in need of
additional research and validation, such as firearms, toolmarks, and latent prints. For example,
labs could go to universities with specific requests that could be assigned to actual graduate
students.
Generally, universities need more government funding for research in forensic science, espe­
cially in the development of new methods. In many areas, basic scientific research has been
conducted that establishes the feasibility of new methods, but no one has developed and
validated a practical test kit that forensic scientists could apply to the new method. For
example, basic research has been done on methods to develop a rapid assay for identification
of urine stains, but no one has developed a test kit for use by criminalists. Commercial
development of such kits is unlikely given the limited market, but a university/commercial
partnership might work if seeded with state funds.
To address these problems, the NAS report contended that “it is crucially important to improve
undergraduate and graduate forensic science programs.”43 At present, there is no formal Ph.D.
program anywhere in the United States in forensic science. A few programs in other fields
(mostly in chemistry) offer a “concentration” in forensic science, but these programs do not
meet the needs of the field as a whole.
The State Bar’s Criminal Law Section has begun offering forensic science training for attorneys and judges, both in-person
and as video-based MCLE seminars. (See <http://www.calbar.ca.gov/criminal>.)
43
NAS report, at p. 27.
42
36
The NAS report noted that “[t]he advan­
tages of a Ph.D. program lie in its positive
effect on basic research in the field.
Doctoral programs offer more research
depth and capacity, have ties to other
fields, have high expectations for quality,
supply graduate student personnel to
question and check past work and chal­
lenge conventional wisdom, and inspire
more mentoring, which has two-way
benefits.”44
The University of California, Berkeley, at
one time operated a doctoral program in
forensic science, but this program was discontinued. While it was in operation, UC Berkeley’s
program trained a number of forensic scientists who became prominent intellectual leaders
of the field. The primary factor leading to the program’s termination was lack of funding for
research in forensic science. Federal funding agencies such as the National Institute of Justice
and the National Science Foundation provided little or no funding for basic research in forensic
science, making it difficult for UC Berkeley’s doctoral program to compete for survival with
doctoral programs in better-funded disciplines.
There is no question that lack of research funding has been detrimental to forensic science:
“The lack of research funding has discouraged universities in the United States from develop­
ing research-based forensic degree programs, which leads to limited opportunities to attract
graduate students into such programs. . . . In addition, the lack of research funds means that
universities are unlikely to develop research programs in forensic science.”45 It is possible,
however, that the situation will improve. The NAS report recommended that the federal
government create a new administrative agency called the National Institute of Forensic
Science (NIFS), which would, among other activities, provide funding for research in forensic
science. The Task Force as a whole takes no position on the feasibility or necessity of this
proposal.
Establishing a doctoral program would be a direct, positive response to the National Academy
of Sciences’ call for improving the scientific foundations of forensic science. This program
would serve an important need by supplying well-trained scientists who will become intellec­
tual leaders of the field. A California doctoral program would be well-positioned to compete
for research funding and would help assure that California forensic laboratories stay at the
forefront of scientific developments.
Recommendations
44
45
• Continuingeducationforcriminalistsisessential,andthestateshouldfundit
accordingly. Crime laboratories should develop mandatory requirements for continuing
education as part of their quality manuals.
NAS report, at p. 223.
NAS report, at p. 230.
37
• Thestateshouldprovidesufficientfundingtoensureproperstaffing,maintenance,
and future expansion of the CCI program, as well as the resources to hire outside
contractors with specialized expertise to teach as necessary. Policymakers should
consider a stable and permanent funding source for CCI, perhaps built along the
model presented by the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST).
• CCIshoulddevelopalabmanagementtrainingprogram.
• CCIoralternativetrainingopportunitiesshouldbeavailableinagreatervarietyof
locations throughout the state.
• Californialawschoolsshouldincorporatescientificevidencetrainingintotheircoursework offerings.
• Thestateshouldestablish(orreestablish)adoctoralprograminforensicscienceatone
of its state university campuses.
• Universityprogramsfocusingonforensicscienceshouldtakeamoreactiverolein
informing students about the scrutiny of background checks and what types of
personal issues could preclude students from employment in a forensic lab.
Certification46
California has a long history of supporting professional attributes such as certification and
accreditation, and the Task Force was charged with providing recommendations regarding the
certification of individuals employed by the state’s crime laboratories. As stated in the Penal
Code mandate, the Task Force also explored recommendations on the appropriate agency or
agencies to assume the responsibility of overseeing a statewide certification program.
Methodology
The Task Force analyzed certification issues in the written surveys of crime laboratory directors
and in interviews with laboratory directors and section heads. The Task Force also researched
the programs of existing certification bodies and reviewed recommendations made in the
2009 NAS report and other public and private reports on forensic science. The presentation
included as Appendix J contains additional source material on certification.
Discussion
Professional certification is a designation earned by a person to assure that he or she has the
minimum qualifications necessary to perform a job or task. At present, the certification of
forensic scientists is available to qualified forensic practitioners but is not required by California
or federal law.
The American Board of Criminalistics (ABC) defines certification as a voluntary process of
peer review by which a practitioner is recognized for attaining the professional qualifications
46
Information provided by Task Force members Greg Matheson and Jennifer Mihalovich.
38
necessary to practice in one or more disciplines of criminalistics. The ABC offers certificates
in criminalistics, molecular biology, drug chemistry, fire debris analysis, and trace evidence.
Certification of forensic practitioners must not be confused with forensic certificates offered
by some educational institutions. Certificates issued by educational institutions are specific to
the program and do not meet the full complement of components necessary for a professional
certification program, as outlined below.
Certification vs. Accreditation
Certification and accreditation are distinct components of the proper operation of a forensic
sciencelaboratory.Certificationisassociatedwithanindividual;accreditationisassociated
with a laboratory. Certification of an individual demonstrates the minimum qualifications
necessarytoperformanalyticalwork;accreditationdemonstratesthatthelaboratoryadheres
to an established set of quality standards and acceptable practices.
Certification and accreditation are two sides of the forensic science quality triangle, the third
side being standardization. Adherence to the requirements of certification, accreditation, and
standardization is essential to establishing and maintaining the credibility of a forensic science
laboratory.
Components of a Certification Program
Professional forensic science certifying bodies must include the following essential components
in their program:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Minimumeducationalrequirements;
Minimumexperiencerequirements;
Sufficientknowledgebaseasdeterminedbywrittenorpracticalcompetencytests;
Participationinproficiencytesting;
Participationincontinuingeducation;
Activeparticipationintheprofessionthroughpublication,presentation,andmembershipinprofessionalorganizations;
Regularrecertification;
Adherencetoacodeofethicsorrulesofprofessionalconduct;and
Enforcementprocedureforcompliancewiththecodeofethicsorrulesofprofessional
conduct.
Certification by bodies that do not require all of these components cannot be considered
appropriate for establishing the credentials of a forensic scientist. The Forensic Specialties
Accreditation Board, described below, assists the criminal justice system in evaluating the legiti­
macy of forensic science certifying bodies.
Developing a Certification Examination
Forensic science certification bodies must have a means to assess the candidate’s knowledge,
skills, and abilities. If properly developed and maintained, written tests provide such a tool.
39
Forensic Science Certification Organizations
Several independent organizations have been established to certify professional
forensic scientists. These are just a few of the numerous certifying bodies:
American Board of Criminalistics
http://www.criminalistics.com
American Board of Forensic Document Examiners
http://www.abfde.org
American Board of Forensic Toxicology
http://www.abft.org
American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators
http://www.slu.edu/organizations/abmdi
Board of Forensic Document Examiners
http://www.bfde.org
International Institute of Forensic Engineering Sciences
http://www.iifes.org
International Association for Identification
http://www.theiai.org
Association of Firearms and Toolmark Examiners
http://www.afte.org
American Board of Pathology
http://www.abpath.org
Digital Forensics Certification Board
http://www.ncfs.org/dfcb
The development and maintenance of ABC certification examinations adheres to the following
process:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
40
Createdevelopmentbodyfromexistingprofessionals;
Createadministrationgroupandexaminationgroup;
Developdocumentsidentifyingthenecessaryknowledge,skills,andabilitiesto
performthetasksbeingassessed;
Developquestions;
Subjectquestionstoprofessionalreviewforcontent,internalconsistency,andquestion
performance;
Pilottestthequestions;and
Continuouslyreviewandupdate.
Certification Application Requirements
The essential components of a professional forensic science certification program include
minimum education, experience, and professional involvement necessary to apply for
certification. Table 2 provides an overview of the minimum requirements of five principle
forensic science certificate programs.
Table 2
Certification Application Requirements by Certifying Body
Certificate
Education
Experience
Professional
Involvement
ABC – Diplomate
Bachelor’s degree or
equivalent in a natural
science or an appropri­
ately related field from
an accredited institution
Two years full time
Actively working in
criminalistics
ABC – Fellow
Same as ABC Diplomate
Two years full time
in specialty
Actively working in
criminalistics and
proficiency tested
ABC – Affiliate
Same as Diplomate
None
None
AFTE
Bachelor’s degree and
coursework in fields
related to certificate
Three years as courtqualified firearm or
toolmark examiner
None
IAI – multiple
certificates
From 40 hours of training
to Bachelor’s degree
From one to six years
Actively working in
certificate discipline
ABFDE
Bachelor’s degree
Two years
apprenticeship
Full time as a
practicing document
examiner
ABFT – Diplomate
Ph.D. in a natural science
Three years full time
Engaged in forensic
toxicology
ABFT – Specialist
Bachelor’s degree in a
natural science
Three years full time
Engaged in forensic
toxicology
Accreditation of Forensic Certification Organizations
The Strategic Planning Committee of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS)
reported in 1995 that the quality and standards applied by different forensic science boards for
granting certification varied widely. The Committee recommended that AAFS assume a role
in establishing a formal system where different credentialing processes of the various certifying
boards can be objectively assessed. AAFS recognized that an important aspect of professional
oversight is the monitoring of the quality and consistency of forensic science credentialing by
the various forensic science boards. Accrediting the certifiers provides this oversight.
41
Groundwork was laid to accomplish this oversight in 1996 by the AAFS Professional Oversight Committee and by the AAFS Mini-Task Force on Criteria for Specialist Certifying Boards. The Accreditation and Certification Task Force, now known as the Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board (FSAB), was formed to develop a voluntary program to objectively assess, recognize, and monitor the various forensic science specialty boards that seek accreditation. FSAB was incorporated as an independent organization on June 23, 2000. FSAB allows the forensic science community to assess, recognize, and monitor organizations or professional boards that certify individual forensic scientists or other forensic specialists. The following certification programs are currently accredited by FSAB:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
AmericanBoardofCriminalists(effectiveMarch1,2004)
AmericanBoardofMedicolegalDeathInvestigators(effectiveMarch1,2005)
AmericanBoardofForensicToxicology(effectiveMarch1,2006)
BoardofForensicDocumentExaminers(effectiveMarch1,2006)
AmericanBoardofForensicDocumentExaminers(effectiveMarch1,2007)
InternationalInstituteofForensicEngineeringSciences(effectiveMarch1,2007)
AmericanBoardofForensicOdontology(effectiveMarch1,2008)
The History of Certification in California
The AAFS, in conjunction with the Forensic Sciences Foundation, established the Criminalistics
Certification Study Committee (CCSC) in 1976. In 1977, the California Association of
Criminalists (CAC) formed its own Certification Committee. The CCSC, in 1980, announced
its decision not to proceed with the development of a national certification program.
The CAC reactivated its certification committee in 1986. The CAC’s certification committee
and examination committee established policies and procedures for the certification process.
In 1988, the CAC piloted its certification examination.
The national effort came out of dormancy in 1988. The ABC was incorporated in 1989, and
five forensic organizations—the CAC, the Mid-Atlantic Association of Forensic Scientists, the
Midwestern Association of Forensic Scientists, the Northeastern Association of Forensic
Scientists, and the Southern Association of Forensic Scientists—were the charter members.
The certification program offered by the ABC initially was based on the program created by
the CAC. Following the implementation of the ABC certification program, the CAC discon­
tinued offering certificates in favor of the national program.
Current Support for Certification
Certification of forensic scientists is not currently required in California. Therefore, support
or encouragement to seek certification remains inconsistent among California’s crime labs
(see Table 3). For example, out of 30 labs surveyed,
•
•
•
•
•
42
Onelab(3percent)offersfourtypesofcertificationsupport.
Elevenlabs(37percent)offerthreetypesofcertificationsupport.
Fourlabs(13percent)offertwotypesofcertificationsupport.
Tenlabs(33percent)offeronetypeofcertificationsupport.
Fourlabs(13percent)offernocertificationsupport.
Table 3
Laboratory/Agency Support for Certification
Support Description
Total # of Labs
Offering This
Support*
# of BFS Labs
Offering This
Support
% of California
Labs Offering
This Support
Sitting fee funded by agency
19
11†
63%
Certification fee funded by agency
17
11
57%
On-duty study time
24
11
80%
Pay bonus or promotion consideration
3
0
10%
Other
2‡
0
7%
None
3
0
10%
* A total of 30 labs were surveyed, which includes 11 BFS labs.
†
All BFS labs fund the sitting fee only if the person passes the examination.
‡
These labs stated that on-duty time was provided to sit for the examinations.
Forensic Scientists Certified in California
Approximately 17 percent of California forensic scientists are certified. Laboratory surveys
collected by the Task Force identified 189 certified staff members out of approximately 1,100
laboratory staff positions that qualified for some form of forensic science certification.
The exact number of forensic scientists certified and the number of certificates in each
specialty is difficult to determine because of the voluntary nature of certification in California.
Initial data on certification was received through the survey distributed to the directors of
California forensic science laboratories. Most laboratories do not offer fiscal incentives for
certification;therefore,thereisnorequirementforreportingcertificationstatustolaboratory
management. The data reported in Tables 4 and 5 are estimates reflecting a combination of
information received from the surveys and from the ABC. Based on the discrepancies between
the information received from the surveys and the ABC, the number of individuals certified in
California’s public crime labs is most likely underreported.
Table 4
Certification by Certifying Body
Certifying Body
American Board of Criminalistics
# of Staff Members
128
American Board of Forensic Document Examiners
7
American Board of Forensic Toxicology
1
Association of Firearms and Toolmark Examiners
American Society for Clinical Pathology
International Association for Identification
Law Enforcement & Emergency Services Video Association
Total
13
1
38
1
189
43
Table 5
Certification by Specialty
Specialty
Biology/DNA
Controlled Substances
Criminalistics
Crime Scene Investigation
Fire Debris
Firearms
Hairs and Fibers
# of Certificates Issued*
29
9
114
15
6
16
3
Latent Prints
20
Management
1
Paints and Polymers
3
Photography
1
Quality Assurance
2
Questioned Documents
7
Toolmarks
2
Toxicology
7
Trace
18
Video
1
* The information in this table reflects the number of certificates issued. Individuals may hold more than one
certificate.
Qualifications for Forensic Alcohol Analysts
Forensic alcohol analysts are the only forensic specialists required by the state to meet certain
qualifications, which are set by the California Department of Public Health (DPH). DPH’s over­
sight of the analysis of blood and breath samples to determine blood alcohol levels is currently
being reviewed and may be changed by state legislation.
Certification in the NAS Report
The 2009 NAS report states that “the certification of individuals complements the accredita­
tion of laboratories for a total quality assurance program.”47 The report goes on to recom­
mend that “certification of forensic science professionals should be mandatory, and all forensic
science professionals should have access to a certification process.”48
47
48
NAS report, at p. 215.
NAS report, at p. 215.
44
Recommendations
• Allpersonswhopracticeinaforensicsciencedisciplineortestifyasaforensicscience
analyst/examiner49 should become certified by a reputable certifying body.
• Alllaboratoriesandtheirparentagenciesarestronglyencouragedtoprovidesupport
and incentives to promote individual staff certification. Fiscal-based incentives may
include funding application and sitting fees, as well as offering pay bonuses for certifi­
cate holders. Non-fiscal incentives may include on-duty study and test-taking time and
the use of certificate status as a promotion factor.
• Allforensicscienceprofessionalsshouldhaveaccesstoacertificationprocess.
• Thestateshouldmandatethattheonlyacceptablecertificatesarethosegrantedby
certification bodies accredited by the Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board, or
certification bodies that adhere to requirements equivalent to those set forth by the
Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board.
49
An analyst/examiner performs casework-related duties on evidence items within the laboratory and issues reports
containing opinions or interpretations on the findings and observations resulting from the work.
45
46
Chapter 4
Funding
50
As directed by Penal Code section 11062, the Task Force considered whether crime laboratory
fundingis(1)predictable,stable,andadequatetomeetfuturegrowthdemands;and
(2) able to sustain accurate and timely results given the demands placed on California’s crime
laboratories to meet the needs of user agencies.
Methodology
The Task Force explored these issues with state and local crime labs through in-person
interviews and surveys of California crime laboratory directors, law enforcement agencies,
and district attorneys. To obtain supporting data, the Task Force also researched the
historical issues involved in funding crime labs based on previous surveys done in California and
on a national level.
Background
Funding sources for California’s crime laboratories vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Most
receive funding from a parent government agency, such as a police or sheriff’s department,
district attorney’s office, or the California Department of Justice. California crime laboratories
do not receive revenue from private sources.
Some laboratories receive funding from specifically directed sources. Orange County, for
example, receives most of its funding from county sales tax revenues designated for law
enforcement. Other laboratories, such as Contra Costa County’s, obtain revenue from feefor-service programs where the crime laboratories are reimbursed for services provided.
These fees may be a cost-per-case reimbursement or on an annual assessment.
Other laboratories, such as the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s laboratory, enhance their
revenue and service delivery by providing dedicated services to particular municipalities
under contract. These services do not provide additional revenue to be used elsewhere
by the lab, but simply provide revenue offset for extra or enhanced services provided to
agencies in the laboratory’s jurisdiction.
A few California crime laboratories, such as the lab run by the Sacramento District Attorney’s
Office, also receive revenue and cost-reimbursement for overflow services provided to other
labs outside its jurisdiction that elect to pay for services in order to meet casework demands.
50
Information provided by Task Force members Barry Fisher and Dean Gialamas.
47
To further supplement funding, almost all California crime laboratories participate in block
grant funding opportunities. Both California and the federal government have or continue to
offer grant opportunities for capacity enhancement, research, and DNA efficiency programs.
Discussion
All the California crime laboratories
surveyed reported that they lack
predictable and stable funding. Further,
there is clear, overwhelming evidence
that this lack of stable funding prevents
laboratories from planning for future
growth or technological advancement.
As covered elsewhere in this report,
California crime laboratories are under­
resourced in many respects. All
laboratory needs identified by the
surveys, such as personnel, equipment,
or facilities, stem from the root problem of inadequate funding. It was apparent in the surveys
that crime laboratories, law enforcement, and attorneys all feel that timeliness and capacity
needs are critical to the success of crime lab operations and the public safety benefits that the
labs provide. More than 80 percent of respondents from all three survey groups felt that more
funding was needed. Moreover, almost 65 percent of respondents voluntarily wrote in the
need for more funding resources to improve staffing, capacity, and turn-around time when
asked, “What measures could be taken to improve the delivery of forensic science services for
your agency?”
Coincidently, laboratories that are viewed in the community as being well-resourced and
well-funded tend to be placed at the highest levels in their parent organization. These
crime laboratories, such as those in Sacramento, Santa Clara, and Orange counties, feature
laboratory directors reporting to the upper executive management of the parent agency.
National Crime Lab Funding
The Task Force also found that California is not alone in this financial resource shortage.
Testimony provided in 2008 to the National Academy of Sciences by the American Society of
Crime Laboratory Directors addressed the need for adequate and sustainable funding sources
in order for the nation’s crime laboratories to meet current and future demands.
Basis for Funding
Crime lab funding must be determined and allocated based on formulas that examine capacity
as a factor of time. Budgeting based on case input, staff, or population does not adequately
address the real needs of crime laboratory users. The surveys showed that law enforcement
agencies and attorneys, the clients to whom crime laboratories serve to meet public safety
needs, are not submitting all the cases that actually need to be processed. Therefore, the
backlogs waiting in California’s crime laboratories are not a true indicator of the service level
that those labs need to meet.
48
Recommendation
• EachagencythathousesacrimelaboratoryinCaliforniamustidentifyorcreate
a consistent and reliable funding stream. It may be beneficial to link funding
mechanisms to performance objectives as an incentive-based process that would
enhance public confidence in government operations.
49
50
Chapter 5
Performance Standards
and Equipment
Workload Demands51
The Task Force explored whether workload demands in crime laboratories are being prioritized
properly and whether there are important workload issues not being addressed. This section
discusses findings on these topics and makes recommendations as to how these demands may
be better met.
Methodology
Information for this section of the report was obtained mainly from the survey sent to crime
laboratory directors, which asked what factors have a significant effect on the ability of
technical staff to meet their workload. The Task Force also obtained information from the
surveys sent to law enforcement and district attorneys, which sought relevant information
about laboratory workload.
In addition, lab directors, and in some cases managers of other laboratory sections, were
interviewed in person and queried about workload issues. The Task Force also discussed
many of these issues at its public meetings. At one meeting, the chief of the Department of
Justice’s Bureau of Forensic Services (BFS) gave a presentation to the Task Force on a program
developed and implemented at the Department of Justice to address workload issues.52
Discussion
Most lab directors reported that their laboratories experience some problems in meeting the
demands of an ever-increasing workload. DNA, fingerprints, and firearms53 were most often
identified as disciplines where requests exceed staffing capabilities. While DNA is generally
only available in a small percentage of cases, the demand and attention given to DNA appears
to exceed that of many other forensic disciplines. In addition, it is in non-DNA disciplines that
labs expect demands to increase rather than remain constant or decrease. In many cases,
Information provided by Task Force members Dolores Carr and Jennifer Friedman.
Specifically, agencies that submit requests for forensic DNA analysis to a Department of Justice lab select a maximum of
three items for analysis. Additional items of evidence may be tested only upon a showing of “good cause” by the agency.
53
A summary of all survey responses is included on the DVD that accompanies this report.
51
52
51
additional staff cannot be added because of the space limitations imposed by the size of the
current laboratory facility.54 In other cases, the space exists but the funds to hire additional
criminalists do not.
The Task Force recognizes that virtually all the laboratories in the state could use additional
funding to hire more analysts to meet the increasing demand for services. However, an
increase in the number of available analysts alone will not solve all the problems associated
with the increase in requests.55 Moreover, as one supervisor noted, hiring additional analysts
without hiring additional supervisors only leads to an increase in inefficiency. Consequently,
this section of the report focuses on how labs may increase efficiency apart from obtaining
funding to hire additional criminalists and supervisors. From interviews with lab directors, and
in some cases laboratory supervisors, the Task Force identified a number of possible ways to
achieve this goal.
In many cases, however, labs will be required to hire additional staff to meet the expectations
of the stakeholders and the communities they serve. It does not appear that any standards
exist regarding the number of crime lab analysts and supervisors necessary to meet the need
of a particular community with a particular crime rate. To set such a standard in the future
would require further study.
Education of Stakeholders
One of the most commonly identified causes of a lab’s inability to handle all requests is failure
of the stakeholders to understand the limitations of forensic science and, in particular, the
limitations of certain disciplines. For example, one lab director noted that his lab had been
asked to conduct DNA testing on the seat of a car to determine whether the defendant was
the car’s driver. In that situation, the individual who requested the testing failed to understand
the sensitivity of the testing and that DNA
analysis could not answer the question
asked. Agencies need to have a better
understanding of basic forensic science,
including how to recognize evidence that
may be probative, the different types of
analyses that may be conducted on an item
of evidence, and a realistic view of what the
results can and cannot show.
According to some crime lab directors, labs
spend substantial time explaining to district
attorneys and law enforcement why the
analysis of certain types of evidence will
not result in relevant or conclusive findings. District attorneys and investigators also need to
learn what is involved in conducting a particular type of analysis and the time required to
54
55
See the Equipment and Facilities section for details on facility limitations.
The NAS report similarly notes that “increasing staff within existing crime laboratories and medical examiner offices is
only part of the solution.” (NAS report, at p. 15.)
52
perform it. Finally, one lab director remarked that we may have gotten to a point where
there is too much reliance on forensic science and less emphasis on law enforcement
conducting a thorough investigation.
Better Communication Between Stakeholders and Labs
Some of the workload issues identified by the crime laboratories stem from a lack of
communication with investigating officers and district attorneys.56 The majority of lab
directors reported that labs are often not told when defendants have pleaded guilty or that
prosecutors have decided not to prosecute a case. Thus, labs waste time analyzing evidence
on cases that have been adjudicated. Laboratories are also not told that narcotics “stings” or
task forces are being contemplated so that the lab can prepare for the increased workload.
Further, labs are often asked to handle “rush requests.” These requests tend to disrupt the
day-to-day operations of the laboratory.
The survey respondents provided several suggestions to remedy these problems. One solution
suggested by a number of lab directors was for the lab to hire someone with experience in
both forensic science and law enforcement to act as a liaison. This individual would work with
the lab and the district attorney or law enforcement agency to prioritize work and identify
cases that should be closed. Another solution was for the lab’s director or a supervisor to
have monthly meetings with the district attorney and law enforcement agencies in order to
prioritize cases. A few labs currently have such a program in place.
Yet another solution is an automated information sharing system, which the Santa Clara County
District Attorney’s Crime Laboratory is in the process of establishing. This Laboratory Information
Management System (LIMS) is a computerized, web-based model with the following features:
• Inventoryofreferencecollectionsandchemicalsupplies.
• Supervisoryreviewandcaseassignments,aswellasahomepageforeachanalystthat
shows the analyst’s current backlog and case status.
• Electronicworksheetsfornotetakingbytheanalysts.
• Customizablestatisticalreportsforsuchthingsascasebacklogs,turnaroundtimes, number and types of evidence items, and exams or cases.
• Password-protectedaccesstothelaboratory’swebsiteallowinguseragenciesto
submit an evidence “request for analysis” to the laboratory via an electronic
submission form. The system tracks the real-time status of case submissions, provides
immediate contact information and enhanced communication between the laboratory
and the agencies, and allows authorized access to lab reports.
• Real-timeuploadoftestresultsfornon-majorcaseevidence(suchasresultsof
toxicology and controlled substance analyses) into the local criminal justice
information database.
56
This concern is echoed in the NAS report. The authors note that Barry Fisher, the former director of the Los Angeles
County Sheriff’s Crime Lab and a member of this Task Force, wrote, “[o]ddly, the police and prosecutors are rarely
consulted about how priorities are determined.” Furthermore, “[p]olice, prosecutors, and forensic laboratories use
different tracking systems.” (NAS report, at pp. 61–62.)
53
• Bar-codedevidencetrackingwithdocumentedchainofcustody.
• Futurelinktothedistrictattorney’scasemanagementsystemforbettercase
coordination and prioritization within the laboratory.
Automated case management systems with shared accessibility, although costly, would
greatly improve communication between labs and stakeholders. For labs that do not
have such systems or such capability, however, a prosecutor, investigator, or both could
be assigned on a part-time basis to work within the lab to help prioritize casework and
determine which cases may be closed without testing.
Furthermore, many of those interviewed reported that crime lab analysts often spend
considerable time in the halls of courthouses waiting to testify. Judges must understand
the cost to the community of this waiting time. Better communication may lead judges
to be more willing to schedule and accommodate crime lab witnesses in a manner that
maximizes efficiency.57
Interviews with crime lab directors also revealed communication problems at a
central level. In Los Angeles County, for example, inconsistencies among county
agencies have increased inefficiencies and the potential for error. The Los Angeles
Police Department uses a system for identifying incidents, cases, and samples that
is different from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and neither agency
uses the same numbering system as the Coroner. The different systems make it
difficult to cross-reference cases and, according to one laboratory director, may
cause important leads to be missed. These problems highlight the need for over­
sight and coordination to assure effective communication among agencies and
across various levels of the justice system.
Delivery of Services
As discussed at length in this report, laboratories need increased funding to keep up with the
ever-growing demand for services. To this end, some laboratories have implemented programs
that generate additional revenue and provide enhanced services for cities that can afford to
pay the associated costs. In other cases, cities have obtained funding to open their own labs.
And some labs have considered consolidating services.
Consolidation of Services. Many lab directors agreed that laboratory disciplines used
infrequently could be performed at one regional lab, rather than have each crime lab maintain
the staff and equipment to handle the occasional request. Consolidation should only be
57
This problem may be exacerbated by the United States Supreme Court’s recent decision in Melendez-Diaz v.
Massachusetts (2009) 129 S.Ct. 2527. Melendez-Diaz held by a five-to-four margin that admission of a sworn affidavit
(certificate) from a state crime laboratory, identifying a controlled substance seized from the defendant, qualified as
testimonial evidence that should have been subject to confrontation through the analysts. (129 S.Ct. at p. 2532.) The
impact of this ruling on laboratory staff and scheduling remains unresolved and will depend on clarifying case law from
the California Supreme Court or the United States Supreme Court.
54
considered, however, for disciplines that are rarely used and where analysts require a great deal
of training to perform the required analysis. Moreover, this would only be feasible for smaller
laboratories that do not receive a significant number of requests. Trace evidence analysis
and document examination are possible disciplines that could be performed by regional labs.
Regionallabscouldalsohouseexpensivedatabasesthatarenotroutinelyusedbutare
required in some cases.
Nevertheless, some lab directors noted that consolidation may actually cause inefficiencies
when one item of evidence needs to be analyzed in multiple ways or if analysts are required
to travel considerable distances to present evidence in court. These concerns should be
considered in determining which, if any services could be regionalized. Finally, labs must
also consider the costs associated with consolidating specified services, including equipment,
staffing, and space.
De-Regionalization. De-regionalization occurs when cities that have an existing relationship
with an established crime laboratory attempt to either change the nature of that relationship
or establish their own crime laboratory.
In Los Angeles County, for example, the City of Torrance contracted with the Los Angeles
County Sheriff’s Department to receive a dedicated criminalist position for that city’s needs.
The criminalist hired is an experienced, trained Los Angeles County Scientific Services Bureau
criminalist who works in the Los Angeles County Crime Lab. However, his salary and
benefits are paid by the City of Torrance. In return, he works exclusively on that city’s cases.
The city’s law enforcement decides which cases will be worked on, and in what order.
Other cities have similarly “purchased” criminalists from the sheriff’s crime lab.
Orange County has a program that permits cities to purchase services from its crime laboratory.
Lab analysts may volunteer to perform services for these cities in return for overtime pay. The
cities pay the costs associated with the analysis and the overtime pay. A number of cities
participate in this program because the Orange County crime lab has the ability to turn the case
around faster than their local crime labs.
Several cities and government agencies have obtained grants to establish their own crime labs.
The City of Glendale recently obtained a one million dollar grant to start its own crime lab.
The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner similarly obtained funding from the county to open
its own DNA lab. It is not clear how these labs will be funded for ongoing operations.
The Task Force discussed the issue of de-regionalization at length. Some of these examples
illustrate creative thinking for obtaining the funds needed to operate in a time of lean budgets.
The Task Force is concerned, however, that this approach may not be an efficient and effective
use of resources. Cities that cannot afford their own criminalist may not receive the same degree
of service as those that can. This may lead to disparities in the level of services provided to cities
within their respective counties.
In addition, there is a question as to whether de-regionalization is an efficient use of
laboratory resources. Such a system may become difficult to manage because each analyst
would be accountable to a different employer and potentially different managerial system.
Further, unresolved questions exist concerning what becomes of analysts employed by
individual cities if the city can no longer pay the cost of such a service. Significant resources
55
would be required for individual cities and agencies to open their own laboratories. The
question remains whether the resources would be better spent enhancing the infrastructure
of existing crime labs.
Fee-for-Service. Another model implemented by some laboratories is a “fee-for-service”
approach. Fee-for-service may be on a yearly contract, or on a per-case or per-item basis.
Some labs have instituted fee-for-service programs because the number of requests made by
law enforcement and district attorneys often exceeds the capabilities of the lab. According to
these lab directors, this model often results in better decision making by the laboratory users.
Specifically, if an agency must pay for lab service, an incentive exists for the agency to request
that only the most important and potentially probative evidence items be processed.
In labs where fee-for-service exists, lab directors report a significant drop in the number
of client requests. On the other hand, labs also expressed concern that this model may
cause agencies to make decisions based disproportionately on fiscal considerations.
Consequently, the needs of the community they serve may not be met. There is also a
danger that laboratories may prioritize work based on potential revenue at the expense of
more traditional criteria.
An example of the fee-for-service model is the Santa Clara County Crime Laboratory, which
annually bills the non-general-fund agencies within the county. The calculated cost for
each agency is based on an average of the prior five years’ percentage of the major cases
submitted by these non-general-fund agencies.58 This percentage is then applied to the
laboratory’s overall expenses for salaries and supplies that are attributed to evidence analysis
in major cases. This fee structure allows agencies to plan and budget for a predictable cost
for crime laboratory services each year. (This fee structure might be renegotiated over the
next year). The lab also has a fee structure (hourly or flat rate, depending on the type of case)
for occasional work done for agencies outside the county.
Limits on the Number of Items Tested. Some laboratories, such as the BFS labs
administered by the California Department of Justice, impose limits on the number of items
that can be tested in one case. The BFS program does allow for exceptions to its “three item
rule.” According to the BFS chief, this program may increase casework efficiency and cause
investigators to take greater care in making lab requests and in identifying which items of
evidenceshouldbetested.Presumably,investigatorsaremorelikelytocommunicatewiththe
lab in determining which items should be tested.
Cross-Training of Laboratory Staff
Several lab directors suggested that analysts be cross-trained in multiple scientific disciplines.
Cross-training would allow a lab to reassign criminalists when a particular unit of the lab
experiences an increase or a decrease in workload. Moreover, cross-training may help labs
retain criminalists by providing variety and enhancing job satisfaction. The Orange County
Crime Laboratory, for example, currently allows analysts to spend 10 percent of their time
training and working in a secondary discipline. This allows an analyst to learn other disciplines
and gives more flexibility to the lab in its assignments.
58
For purposes of this calculation, major cases are those other than blood/urine/breath alcohol, toxicology, or controlled
substances analysis.
56
Availability of Discovery
Some laboratory representatives reported
that they spend a considerable amount of
time responding to discovery requests in
criminal cases. Less time would be spent on
these requests if discovery were standardized
by discipline so that key documents were
routinely provided and available electronically
for review by the requesting party.
A standard discovery packet should include
a complete laboratory file with all bench
notes and data, curriculum vitae for the
analyst, and a summary of the analyst’s
proficiency test results for a specified period.
In addition, items such as lab manuals and validation studies should be made available electron­
ically through a secure website, if feasible. Having a standard minimum discovery packet for
every case and making other discovery items available through a secure website would greatly
reduce the time that lab personnel spend compiling information for discovery.
Orange County provides an excellent example of an electronic document discovery system,
which the county’s crime laboratory implemented in November 2008. When the lab receives
discovery requests via fax or e-mail, the requests are logged into the Laboratory Integrated
Management System (LIMS). The case file and any other requested documents are scanned
andstoredelectronicallyasPDFfiles.Analyticaldatanotcontainedinthecasefile,such
as raw DNA data, are also obtained. The system then produces a discovery report, which
details the documents requested and those that are provided in response to the request. This
discovery report is scanned and placed with the other electronic documents in an electronic
discovery packet (file). The discovery packet is then placed on a secure website for retrieval.
Finally, an e-mail is sent to the requestor that includes a private link to the discovery packet on
the secure website; the e-mail also provides a user name and password to maintain security
and traceability. The documents are available on the website for two weeks and are then
removed for additional security. The lab maintains the electronic discovery packets indefinitely,
and the packets can be easily re-sent upon request.
Hiring Additional Support Staff
In some labs, criminalists spend time performing clerical administrative duties such as
ordering supplies. Labs should consider hiring additional support staff to perform clerical and
administrative, technical support, and evidence control functions. In general, the cost of hiring
support staff is significantly less than hiring experienced criminalists.
Efficiency Assessments
All laboratories should assess ways to become more efficient and more productive. The Task
Force found that several labs are examining “process improvements” to increase efficiency
withoutadditionalfunding.Forexample,theSanDiegoPoliceDepartmentCrimeLaboratory
was mandated by the city it serves to conduct such an assessment and as a result was able to
modify its operations to increase efficiency.
57
Flexible Work
As noted in this report, a number of laboratories do not employ enough criminalists to meet
workload demands. Some of these labs are unable to hire additional staff because of space
limitations. Labs might be able to process additional cases, however, if employees were
permitted to work flexible work schedules. For example, a compressed workweek with longer
daily hours or an evening shift might allow for a greater number of criminalists to share limited
resources in the laboratory.
Ratio of Criminalists to Population
Survey respondents suggested setting statewide guidelines for the ideal number of criminalists
for any given population with a specified crime rate. Complementary guidelines would describe
the appropriate supervisor-to-analyst ratio and analyst-to-support-staff ratio. Further study is
required to create such standards.
Recommendations
• Publiccrimelaboratoriesshouldorganizeandparticipateincontinuingeducationfor
attorneys and law enforcement in their service areas regarding effective use of forensic
science and crime laboratory resources.
• Eachcrimelaboratoryshouldimplementprocedurestoachievebettercommunication
between stakeholders and laboratory personnel.
• Eachcrimelaboratoryshouldprovidetrainingtojudgesregardingthecostsassociated
with lab personnel being away from the laboratory waiting to testify.
• Policymakers,laboratories,andlaboratories’parentagenciesshouldconsidernovel
approachestoincreasingefficiencyandmitigatingworkloaddemands.Regional
consolidation of services, contract services, fee-for-service programs, and evidence
item testing limits should be explored and evaluated.
• Laboratoriesshouldexplorecross-traininganalystsinmultipledisciplinesbasedonthe
size and needs of the laboratory.
• Laboratoriesandthedistrictattorney’sofficesintheirserviceareasshouldcollaborate
on standardizing routine discovery in criminal cases. In addition, labs should
explore means of making items of discovery such as policy and procedure manuals
available electronically.
• Allcrimelaboratoriesshouldconductstudiestoassesswaystoimproveefficiencyand
enhance productivity.
• Allcrimelaboratoriesshouldexplorewhetherflexibleworkweeksoralternativework
shifts would facilitate efficiency.
• Allcrimelaboratoriesshouldconductastudytosetstandardsforthenumberofcrime
lab analysts, supervisors, and support staff required to serve a particular population
with a specified crime rate.
58
Staffing59
The Task Force evaluated laboratory staffing, which is a critical concern for California’s forensic
science community. In order to serve justice, the work product of a crime laboratory must
be accurate, thorough, and unbiased. But it is just as important for the work product to be
provided to client agencies in a timely manner. Unfortunately, a lack of responsiveness to the
needs of the client agency is all too often the norm rather than the exception. Anecdotal
news accounts exist of unopened sexual assault kits on evidence room shelves, backlogged
weapons cases, and delayed DNA test results. As part of its evaluation, the Task Force sought
to determine whether California crime laboratories require increased staffing—including
analyst/examiners, laboratory managers, and support staff—to adequately perform this work.
Methodology
The Task Force analyzed staffing levels and service issues in the written surveys of crime
laboratory directors and in interviews with laboratory management and staff. The Task
Force also researched the historical perspective of laboratory staffing in California and
reviewed the findings and recommendations of reports directly addressing the needs of
the state’s crime laboratories.
Background
Staffing levels are one of the key indicators of a laboratory’s ability to meet service demands.
Staff in the crime laboratory typically includes analysts, technical support personnel, managers,
and clerical and other support personnel (see Table 6 for total number of positions in California).
Analysts are responsible for preparing and analyzing evidence within or across a range of
forensic disciplines, writing reports, and testifying in court. Technical support personnel
generally provide some type of technical or laboratory-aide assistance to the analyst. In
some laboratories, technical support personnel are responsible for performing blood alcohol
analysis, screening toxicology evidence, or screening biological evidence; technical support
personnel may also testify in court. Managers include laboratory directors responsible for
the operation of the crime laboratory and supervisors responsible for the management of the
crime laboratory’s day-to-day operations. Clerical and other support personnel in the crime
laboratory encompass a range of duties from evidence tracking and front office operations to
information technology services.
Table 6
Staffing Data Collected from the 2008 California Crime Laboratory Survey
(as of December 31, 2007)
59
Type of Position
Total
State
County
Municipal
Analyst/Examiner,
Technical Support, or Manager
1,214
211
759
244
Support (Other)
326
91
181
54
California Totals
1,540
302
940
298
Information provided by Task Force members Bob Jarzen and Jim McLaughlin.
59
Historical Perspective
In the past, crime laboratories regarded their analyst staff as “generalists” who could be
assigned a variety of laboratory tasks across an array of forensic disciplines. It was common
for a single analyst to be assigned case requests for blood alcohol analysis, solid dosage
drug analysis, firearms comparisons, and crime scene reconstruction—all in the same week.
Caseloads in this era were correspondingly low, however, and requests relatively simple by
today’s standards.
As forensic science received broader acceptance, the demand for answers to increasingly
complex questions required analysts to specialize in a particular forensic discipline. This
narrowing of focus served to advance professionalism through laboratory accreditation,
scientist certification, and adherence to increasingly stringent quality assurance standards.
These changes have improved work product, but at a price: The overall efficiency of
laboratory operations has fallen. It is estimated that caseload outputs in the age of
specialization have been reduced by 40 percent. This reduction is primarily due to
additional requirements now placed on the crime laboratory and on individual analysts.
In recent years, a spate of reports on forensic science has highlighted case backlogs,
lengthy case turnaround times, and the critical need for additional analysts. As noted in
the introduction to this report, three notable publications focused directly on the needs
of California’s crime laboratories.
First, the State Auditor’s report in 1998 addressed two issues: (1) changes and improvements
needed for laboratories to achieve or maintain accreditation and (2) improvement of local
laboratories’ efficiency and effectiveness. Only one recommendation directly addressed the need
for staffing. It suggested improving laboratory quality management systems by adding quality
managers and support staff at sufficient levels to implement and maintain quality programs.
Second, in 2003, Attorney General Bill Lockyer’s Task Force report noted that crime
laboratories are often the bottleneck in the state’s criminal justice system. Timeliness of
laboratory results was a significant source of dissatisfaction among police, sheriffs, and
district attorneys. In addition, laboratory directors estimated that a 33 percent increase in
professional staff was required to meet then-existing demands for services. Consequently,
the report recommended that the state and local agencies consider funding overtime or
limited-term staff increases in California’s crime laboratories to reduce backlogs and improve
turnaround times. The report concluded that over the long term, improving turnaround
time would require a net increase in permanent staffing levels.
Third, in February 2007 before the release of its Official Report, the California Commission on
the Fair Administration of Justice (CCFAJ) released a related report titled Emergency Report
and Recommendations Regarding DNA Testing Backlogs.60 The report addressed the current
California backlogs in processing DNA samples from crime scenes and entering the data into
theDNADataBankProgram.TheCommissionrecommendedimmediateimplementation
of several measures, including (1) ascertaining the staffing levels required for the DNA Data
60
California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, Emergency Report and Recommendations Regarding DNA
Testing Backlogs(Feb.2007)<http://www.ccfaj.org/documents/reports/problems/official/Report%20on%20DNA%20
Backlogs.pdf>. This report was incorporated into the final CCFAJ report discussed in the Introduction.
60
BankProgramtoreducethebacklogsboththen
andwhenthedemandsofProposition69’s
felony arrestee collection provision take effect; (2)
providing emergency budget appropriations to
fundstaffingfortheDNADataBankProgram;and
(3) requiring the Attorney General to consult with
forensic service stakeholders to urgently address,
in part, the nature and scope of current capacity
problems and backlogs of unprocessed evidence.61
Nationally, the U.S. Department of Justice has
sponsored and issued reports relating to crime
laboratories and their needs. Several of these
reports provide detailed statistics and reviews
of forensic science services in crime laboratories
nationally. Significantly, problems identified at
the national level are no different from problems
experienced by California’s crime laboratories.
Available data generally support the fact that
most crime laboratories have large case backlogs, resulting in significant evidence processing
delays and, by extension, delays in investigation and court proceedings. Most crime
laboratories report insufficient staffing as the main reason for laboratory backlogs, and
researchers found that crime laboratories have limited budgets to hire additional staff.62
In the 2002 and 2005 reports of the census of publicly funded crime laboratories,63 data
are presented that support laboratories’ need for more analysts. In 2002, laboratory sources
estimated that about 1,900 additional full-time analysts would have been necessary to achieve
a 30-day turnaround time for all requests for forensic services that year. The 2005 report
concluded that, in order to achieve a 30-day turnaround time on all 2005 requests, the various
forensic disciplines would have needed varying increases in the number of full-time analysts
performing that work—ranging from an estimated 73 percent increase in DNA analysts (the
greatest personnel need) to an estimated 6 percent increase in toxicologists.
In a 2004 report to Congress, the National Institute of Justice cited staffing shortages as
the greatest concern for the forensic community.64 The lack of sufficient personnel directly
influences the ability of crime laboratories to address case backlogs. According to the report,
many strategies are employed to manage the demand for forensic services, from prioritization
by court date to case acceptance policies. The result is that in many cases where no suspect
has been identified the evidence is never submitted to the crime laboratory, or the crime
California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, Emergency Report and Recommendations Regarding DNA
Testing Backlogs (Feb. 2007), at pp. 1–6.
62
U.S.DepartmentofJustice,OfficeofJusticePrograms,NationalInstituteofJustice,Increasing Efficiency in Crime
Laboratories (Jan. 2008) <http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/220336.pdf>.
63
U.S.DepartmentofJustice,OfficeofJusticePrograms,BureauofJusticeStatistics,Census of Publicly Funded Forensic
Crime Laboratories, 2002 (Feb. 2005) <http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/cpffcl02.pdf> and Census of Publicly
Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories, 2005 (July 2008) <http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/cpffcl05.pdf>.
64
U.S.DepartmentofJustice,OfficeofJusticePrograms,NationalInstituteofJustice,Status and Needs of Forensic Science
Service Providers: A Report to Congress (May 2004) <http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/213420.pdf>, at pp. 4, 12.
61
61
laboratory may sometimes return the evidence to the submitting agency if it cannot be worked
in a timely manner. In 2004, the national cost of addressing the staff shortfall was estimated
to exceed $36 million.
Further, Task Force member Barry Fisher raised the possibility of federal funding for an
additional 10,000 forensic specialists over a five-year period. Fisher noted that during the
Clinton administration, Congress provided funding for the hiring of 10,000 additional police
officers. Fisher also discussed reasons why more forensic scientists are needed to handle
backlog cases in a timely manner and the apparent consequences as governments fail to
address the problem.
Discussion
The Task Force identified several factors affecting the ability of technical staff to meet their
workload demands. These factors include staff shortages, difficulty in attracting experienced
analysts, training time, analyst retention, staff turnover, and staffing fluctuations due to leave
time, vacation, sick leave, and scheduled days off. In addition, laboratory staff frequently must
confront and resolve non-scientific issues such as agencies requesting that everything in the
case be examined, the CSI effect, time spent in court, discovery and public records requests,
increased demands for DNA analyses, and providing training to law enforcement and district
attorneys. Technical staff must also deal with a lack of support staff, insufficient supervisory
personnel, and paperwork and administrative duties that add significantly to the time it takes
to analyze a case. Finally, quality assurance demands, grant management requirements,
instrument maintenance duties, lack of space, and budget constraints are additional factors
that prevent existing staff from meeting casework demands.
Interviews with crime laboratory directors conducted by Task Force members also exposed
staffing needs. The consensus was that inadequate staffing is a chronic problem manifested
in case backlogs, unmet client demands, and unrealistic expectations that the crime laboratory
coulddomore.Reasonsforfailingtofullystaffcrimelaboratoriesincludetheretirementor
transfer of experienced analysts, unfilled vacant positions due to budgetary constraints, lack of
space to add more staff, lack of adequately trained candidates to fill vacancies, and significant
recruitment issues.
Customer Service and Level of Service
Customer service generally refers to crime laboratory activities designed to improve the level
of satisfaction among the laboratory’s clients—police, prosecutors, and the courts. Level of
service is a measure of the effectiveness by which crime laboratories determine the quality of
forensic services they provide to their client agencies.
One means of determining whether a crime laboratory is providing adequate customer
service is to review the performance expectations of the crime laboratory, the clients, and the
laboratory’s parent agency. Typical performance expectations for most crime laboratories
include control or reduction of backlogged cases, reasonable case turnaround time, and the
capacity to accept and process forensic cases. Each of these performance metrics is linked to
staffing levels in the crime laboratory.
Level of service usually requires a common understanding between the crime laboratory
and the client about the forensic services offered, capabilities of the crime laboratory, case
62
priorities, agency and laboratory responsibilities, and specified guarantees. Likewise, any
understanding and guarantees between the crime laboratory and the client are based on the
laboratory being adequately staffed to provide quality service.
The National Institute of Justice defines a case not completed within 30 days as backlogged.65
Although various definitions of backlog are used by California’s crime laboratories, this Task
Force defined backlog as the number of case requests in the crime laboratory that have not
met the service goal. It should be noted that each crime laboratory reported a broad range
of turnaround goals that were correlated to a forensic discipline. While backlog reduction
can be pursued at the front end by case acceptance policies, most crime laboratories reported
insufficient staffing as a reason for laboratory backlogs.
Table 7 tabulates all backlogged cases for all crime laboratories in the core forensic services
offered by the majority of California’s crime laboratories. Because of the wide variety of
reported service goals, these goals are not considered in the tabulated results below.
Table 7
Total Backlogs in the Core Forensic Disciplines Reported in the 2008 California
Crime Laboratory Survey
Core Forensic Discipline
Total Backlog as of 12/31/06
Total Backlog as of 12/31/07
Alcohol (Blood and Breath)
1,834
1,386
Forensic Biology/DNA
6,671
15,779
Controlled Substances
10,986
10,829
Firearms/Toolmarks
7,206
8,248
Latent Prints
2,714
2,986
Backlog reduction is a key factor in determining staffing needs. Eliminating backlogged
cases entirely is not feasible under most circumstances, so the questions that need to be
answered are (1) Is there an acceptable “not to exceed” number of backlogged cases?
(2) How many analysts does a laboratory need to stay at or below that acceptable number
of backlogged cases?
Turnaround time is the time (generally in calendar days) from the receipt of the evidence by
the crime laboratory to the date the laboratory report is released to the client or submitting
agency. Turnaround times vary greatly by forensic discipline. As noted earlier, the National
Institute of Justice believes that to achieve a 30-day turnaround time, the different forensic
disciplines would need varying increases in the number of full-time analysts performing that
work. But, as Task Force member Barry Fisher has noted, whether “timely service” means
completion of cases in 30, 60, or 90 days, it does not mean that evidence is stored in evidence
lockers with no real expectation that the case will ever be examined.
65
U.S.DepartmentofJustice,OfficeofJusticePrograms,BureauofJusticeStatistics,Bulletin Census of Publicly Funded
Forensic Crime Laboratories, 2005 (July 2008) <http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/cpffcl05.pdf>, at p. 1.
63
Survey participants were asked to report actual turnaround times for their laboratories’ case
requests during 2007. Table 8 tabulates the case request data for core forensic disciplines for
all California crime laboratories and averages the reported turnaround times.
Table 8
Case Turnaround Times Reported in the 2008 California Crime
Laboratory Survey
Core Forensic Discipline
Total Case Requests in 2007
Alcohol (Blood and Breath)
Average Turnaround Time
183,516
7 days
Forensic Biology/DNA
17,199
99 days
Controlled Substances
156,642
18 days
Firearms/Toolmarks
16,765
102 days
Latent Prints
15,413
58 days
Case turnaround times correspond to the number of backlogged cases in a crime laboratory.
The basis for counting backlogged cases is the number of cases in which lab reports have not
been issued and have exceeded the turnaround time goal. Improving turnaround times will
result in a reduction, or in some forensic disciplines, elimination of backlogged cases.
The final performance expectation related to the need for staffing is the crime laboratory’s
capacity to accept and process forensic case requests. The Task Force defines a case request
as a discipline-specific request for testing or analysis of one or more evidence items in a
particular investigation. Capacity is defined as the number of requests completed by an
analyst in a given time period or year. The 2005 Bureau of Justice Statistics national census
report66 tabulated the mean number of requests completed per full-time analyst. National
statistics range from a high of 780 toxicology cases completed per analyst and 752 controlled
substances cases completed per analyst to a low of 52 computer crimes cases completed per
analyst. Also reported were 193 firearms/toolmark cases completed per analyst and 77 DNA
cases completed per analyst. Table 9 tabulates the number of cases completed in a core
forensic discipline by an analyst in California crime laboratories.
Table 9
Case Request Data Reported in the 2008 California Crime Laboratory Survey
Core Forensic Discipline
Total Requests
in 2007
Full-time
Analyst Positions*
Average Requests
Completed per
Analyst per Year†
186,132
37.0
3,220
Forensic Biology/DNA
13,225
194.0
56
Controlled Substances
153,983
74.0
1,053
Firearms/Toolmarks
13,616
66.5
168
Latent Prints
14,533
67.5
215
Alcohol (Blood and Breath)
* Data were reported by responding laboratories in the supplemental questionnaire (June 2009), included as Appendix F.
† Total requests completed have been adjusted for non-reporting crime laboratories to the supplemental questionnaire (June 2009).
64
InanApril2007article,W.MarkDale,DirectoroftheNortheastRegionalForensicInstitute
at the University of Albany, wrote about forensic scientists under pressure.67 He presented
evidence of a growing shortage of needed technical workers and examined the relationship
between staffing levels and performance (or capacity) in public forensic laboratories.
Dale identified 17 “pressure to perform” variables related to resource allocation and time
available for forensic scientists to complete casework; significant performance variables
were ranked by crime laboratory directors. Directors strongly agreed that scientists had
the proper equipment to do the job and that scientists are adequately trained in scientific
methods. Directors also strongly agreed that analysts are pressured to complete cases in a
timely manner. Taking DNA casework as an example, Dale wrote that as “DNA casework
capacity increased, pressure to complete cases too quickly, pressure to extend opinions
beyond scientific methods and pressure to get a particular result increased significantly.”
He noted that “capacity and quality of a laboratory with fixed staffing resources represents
a trade-off situation. Increasing capacity with a given (fixed) number of analyst/examiners
decreases resources needed for quality assurance functions.” The corollary to Dale’s
observations is that “[i]ncreasing capacity with a corresponding increase in staffing levels
increases resources needed to maintain quality assurance functions and reduces the impact
of performance variables.”
Increasing Capacity
As previously noted, staffing needs in California’s crime laboratories are tied to case backlogs,
turnaround time goals, and demands for forensic services. If crime laboratory services increase
because demands require greater capacity, then there must be a corresponding increase in
crime laboratory staffing. The process of adding capacity by adding staff should be part of a
comprehensive agency plan that improves the crime laboratory’s operations.
Table 10 presents a comparison between the number of backlogged cases reported as of
December 31, 2007 (Table 7) and the average requests completed per analyst (Table 9) to
estimate the additional number of analysts that would have been needed to eliminate the
backlog of cases.
Table 10 makes clear that there is a critical need for additional analysts to eliminate case
backlogs. The data indicate that in order to eliminate the 2007 backlog in the core disciplines,
California crime laboratories would have needed an additional 356 analysts, with a percent
increase in staff ranging from 3 percent in the number of alcohol analysts to 145 percent in
the number of DNA analysts.
66
67
Ibid., at p. 10.
WendyS.BeckerandW.MarkDale,CriticalHumanResourceIssues:ScientistsUnderPressure,Forensic Science
Communications (Apr. 2007), Volume 9, Issue 2
<http://www.fbi.gov/hq/lab/fsc/backissu/april2007/research/2007_04_research02.htm>.
65
Table 10
Estimated Number of Additional Analysts Needed to Eliminate the 2007
Case Backlog
Core Discipline
Backlog as of
12/31/07
Alcohol (Blood and Breath)
Requests Completed
per Analyst
Number of
Additional Analysts
Needed to
Eliminate Backlog
Percent
Increase in
Analysts
Needed
1,386
3,220
1
3%
Forensic Biology/DNA
15,779
56
282
145%
Controlled Substances
10,829
1,054
10
14%
Firearms/Toolmarks
8,248
168
49
74%
Latent Prints
2,986
215
14
21%
Table 11 presents a comparison between the ideal case turnaround times as reported by crime
laboratory directors versus the actual case turnaround times reported for 2007.
Table 11
Comparison Between Ideal Turnaround Times Vs. Actual Turnaround Times
Core Discipline
Alcohol (Blood and Breath)
Ideal Case Turnaround Time
Actual Case Turnaround Time
1 – 10 days
3 – 21 days
Forensic Biology/DNA
30 – 180 days
7 – 227 days
Controlled Substances
1 – 20 days
1 – 63 days
Firearms/Toolmarks
5 – 90 days
5 – 241 days
Latent Prints
2 – 60 days
46 – 180 days
As noted in Table 11, there are substantial differences between ideal and actual turnaround times.
The Demand for Forensic Services
California crime laboratories that offer an expanded range of forensic science services often
experience a higher volume of client requests. The demand for forensic services appears to be
exponential, but a crime laboratory’s ability to meet the demand is hampered by inadequate
staffing levels and funding. As stakeholders become more aware of technology, especially
in DNA, they want even more analyses done on all cases. Therefore, as crime rates grow,
forensic science caseloads increase. And police agency expansions do not ordinarily include
a corresponding increase in crime laboratory staff. Some researchers have postulated that
law enforcement and the adversarial system exert considerable pressure on forensic scientists,
which may result in ethical breaches.68 Increases in caseloads and demands for services
aggravate the pressures on forensic scientists; thus, crime laboratories are victims of their
own success. As the demand for forensic services exceeds crime laboratories’ capacity, client
satisfaction declines but with no corresponding solution for adding staff.
68
Ibid.
66
Other Factors Affecting Staffing Needs
Aside from the elements of customer service, level of forensic service, and the demand for
forensic services, other less apparent factors affect crime laboratory staffing needs:
• Populationandcrimedemographicsofdifferentjurisdictionsservedbylaboratories;
• Awarenessbylawenforcement,prosecutors,anddefensecounselofforensicscience
practices and capabilities;
• Increasedordecreasednumbersoflawenforcementofficers;
• Thepotentialfordatabaseautomationinvariousforensicsciencedisciplines;
• Jurorexpectations;
• Legalrequirements;
• Laboratoryaccreditationrequirementsandstaffcertification;
• Infrastructurelimitationsandlaboratorybudgets;
• Technologyimprovementsandautomation;
• Sufficientandstablefunding;
• Trainingandcontinuingeducationofpersonnel;
• Impendingretirementofalargenumberofcurrentlypracticinganalysts;and
• Increasedawarenessofforensicsciencethroughpopularmediaandthereleaseofthe
2009 NAS report.
One of the more significant factors affecting timeliness of forensic services and the need
for more staffing is accreditation requirements. While rigid accreditation standards are a
positive development in forensic science, and are widely viewed as a key component of quality
forensic science services, there is a sense within the forensic community that the increased
scrutiny associated with accreditation requirements results in a decrease in analyst, and even
management, productivity. Most accredited crime laboratories now employ a minimum of one
full-time quality assurance manager to oversee the laboratory’s quality assurance program.
Accreditation requirements permeate the workforce and the workday. In addition to
performing analyses and testifying to results, each analyst is required to exhibit proficiency
in all assigned disciplines on at least an annual basis (semi-annually for a DNA analyst).
The analysts must also actively contribute as technical and administrative case reviewers,
program auditors, and technical peer group members. Crime laboratories must perform an
internal audit of all technical disciplines on an annual basis. Further, the laboratory director
must provide an annual written report to the accrediting body, and the laboratory must
submit to an external accreditation inspection every five years. The existing crime laboratory
personnel have shouldered all of these relatively recent demands. However, increasing
the level of staffing ensures continued participation and success in the crime laboratory
accreditation process.
Recommendations
• Jurisdictionsandlaboratoryparentagenciesshoulddevelopcomprehensiveplansfor
adding staff to their crime laboratories and detail all the anticipated benefits, both
short- and long-term.
• Thecrimelaboratory,parentagency,andallcrimelaboratoryservicestakeholders within the laboratory’s jurisdiction should collaborate to set acceptable standards for
turnaround time service goals and the “not to exceed” number of backlogged cases.
67
• Crimelaboratories,parentagencies,andotherstakeholdersshouldcoordinateefforts
to obtain authorization and funding for necessary additional staff.
• Thestateshouldconductastudytoestablishalaboratorystaffingformulathat
addresses the following areas:
o
o
o
o
The acceptable number of cases per analyst in each forensic discipline;
The acceptable analyst-to-manager ratio within laboratories;
The acceptable number of laboratory support staff; and
The feasibility of statewide guidelines that establish the ideal number of
analysts to serve a particular size population with a specified crime rate.
In addition, the study should consider the feasibility of contract-based crime laboratory
services or payment for forensic services (i.e., fee-for-service).
Equipment and Facilities69
Many of California’s crime laboratories lack necessary equipment or facilities. While the
Task Force believes that laboratories should possess all equipment and facilities necessary
to provide the highest quality forensic science services, this does not mean that each lab
should contain every possible piece of equipment. Therefore, the Task Force examined how
laboratories could consider outsourcing some requests to laboratories that possess additional
or different capabilities. For example, one possible approach to trace evidence analysis would
be to regionalize all such work in the state. This effort would allow specialized equipment
to be available at a few locations to all California laboratories and thus used regularly. In this
example, increased efficiency and enhanced trace evidence service statewide would likely
result.
In addition to having the appropriate equipment for each discipline in forensic science, the
Task Force examined ways that laboratories could ensure that equipment is maintained and
replaced as necessary. For example, the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Forensic
Services Laboratory has a five-year replacement cycle for all equipment written into its budget.
By maintaining an equipment replacement budget, this laboratory ensures that its equipment
is modern and functional.
Methodology
PenalCodesection11062(d)requiresthattheTaskForcereport“includeacompleteinventory
of existing California crime laboratories.” To meet this mandate, a summary of state, county,
and city crime laboratory needs is set forth in Table 12. This summary reflects information
provided in the laboratory surveys as of December 31, 2008. The complete inventory of
laboratory equipment is provided in the individual survey responses included on a DVD that
accompanies this report.
69
Information provided by Task Force member Charlotte Wacker.
68
Table 12
California Crime Laboratory Equipment and Facility Needs
Laboratory
Equipment Needs
Facility Needs
Alameda Co.
Sheriff’s Dept.
Digital photography equipment, crime scene laser
scanning documentation system (i.e., Leica
ScanStation), improved NIBIN technology, and
more advanced auto search scopes for finding sperm
Have 10,000 ft2,
need 60,000 ft2
BFS Central Valley
None
Have 32,000 ft2, stated
as not sufficient; no
facilities assessment
has been done
BFS Fresno
Another qPCR machine
Have 36,000 ft2, stated
as not sufficient; no
facilities assessment
has been done
BFS Riverside
None
Needs are met at
38,500 ft2
BFS Chico
A new firearm/toolmark comparison microscope
Unknown
BFS Eureka
None
Needs are met at
10,000 ft2
BFS Freedom
None
Needs are met at
12,600 ft2
BFS Redding
Elemental analysis, DNA equipment (on order)
Needs are met at
16,744 ft2
BFS Richmond
Technology changes require updating or replacing
of equipment every 2 – 3 years
Needs are met at
100,000 ft2
BFS Sacramento
Additional DNA analysis equipment
Needs are met at
4,800 ft2; future needs
are an expanded facility
with more file storage,
evidence storage, and
climate control
BFS Santa Barbara
Crime scene response vehicle
Needs are met at
13,480 ft2
BFS Santa Rosa
Crime scene response vehicle, general use vehicle
replacement (i.e., court response vehicles)
Needs are met at
16,400 ft2
BFS Toxicology,
Sacramento
LC/MS/MS and court travel vehicle
Have a 4,150 ft2;
estimate need at 27,250 ft2
California Fish
& Game
Additional DNA equipment such as ABI 3130 to
enhance research possibilities and to expand into
other wildlife genetic projects
Have a 1,200 ft2; stated
as not sufficient; no
facilities assessment
has been done
69
Table 12 continued
California Crime Laboratory Equipment and Facility Needs
Laboratory
Equipment Needs
Facility Needs
Contra Costa Co.
Sheriff’s Dept.
Robotics, multi-capillary DNA instruments, new FTIR/ATR,
new SEM-EDX, horizontal water tank, indoor shooting
range, LC/MS, third laser scanner, computer forensic
workstation, AVID video enhancement workstation,
digital data recovery systems for cell phones, PDAs
Have 20,000 ft2 in four
facilities, stated as not
sufficient; from 1999
facilities assessment they
need 65,000 ft2
El Cajon
Police Dept.
Additional equipment to support crime scene unit/lab
evidence technician, two vehicles with cameras and
other fundamental equipment
Have 2,387 ft2, estimate
needs at 6,000 ft2
(1,000 ft2 per person)
Fresno County
Sheriff’s Dept.
One GC/MS, centrifuges
Have two facilities of
5,000 ft2 each; unknown
needs for the future
Kern County
District Attorney
Visible microspectrophotometer, ICP/MS, various
upgrades to hardware and software, instruments or
equipment that allows automation
Needs are met
at 24,000 ft2
Long Beach
Police Dept.
Additional ALSs, comparison microscope, Superglue
chamber, Ninhydrin chamber, new digital comparator,
stereoscope, GC/MS, FTIR, LC/MS, digital media
management system
Have 5,150 ft2, stated as
not sufficient; needs
indicate 17,000 ft2
Los Angeles County
Sheriff’s Dept.
None
Have eight facilities
totaling 158,240 ft2,
stated as sufficient
for current needs; future
needs are unknown
Los Angeles
Police Dept.
Replacement breath alcohol system, Micro FTIR, UV-Vis,
microspectrophotometer, XRD, XRF, GCMS, microtome,
comparison scopes, stereoscopes, crime scene
response vehicles, digital camera systems, crime scene
documentation technology, VSC 6000, LC/MS/MS
Have 93,000 ft2, stated
as sufficient for current
needs; future needs are
unknown, and no
facilities assessment has
been done
Los Angeles
County Coroner
Replacement of current GCMS systems, analytical balance
Have 15,000 ft2, needs
are 25,000 ft2; increased
security is a key need
Oakland Police
Dept.
Digital imaging system linked to central server, Adobe
Photoshop software, portable lasers, computers and
monitors, two crime scene response vehicles, 360°
digital camera, CODIS server, liquid handlers, EZ1 DNA
extraction robots, micro-dissection microscope,
laminar flow hood, 7500 Real Time PCR unit, 9700
thermal cycler, comparison microscope, stereo
microscope, new IBIS data acquisition station, GC/MS,
UV-visible spectrophotometer, FTIR, GC/MS library,
latent print imaging system, fuming/humidity cabinets
Have 6,822 ft2; future
needs indicate 54,000 ft2
for 20 years of growth
70
Table 12 continued
California Crime Laboratory Equipment and Facility Needs
Laboratory
Equipment Needs
Facility Needs
Orange County
Sheriff-Coroner
LC/MS systems for toxicology
Have 94,000 ft2, needs
indicate a 100,000 ft2
facility would enable
growth
Sacramento County
District Attorney
Five-year replacement schedule for all equipment
Have 48,000 ft2; stated
as not sufficient; no
facilities assessment
has been done
San Bernardino
County Coroner
CSI trucks, DIMS server, comparable GC
(for blood alcohol) to use with LIMS
Have 26,926 ft2; need
approximately 94,873 ft2
San Diego County
Medical Examiner
LC/MS, GC/MS HPLC, atomic absorption
Unknown
San Diego
Police Department
None
Have 28,000 ft2, stated
as not sufficient; no
facilities assessment has
been done
San Diego County
Sheriff’s Dept.
None
Have 62,000 ft2, stated
as not sufficient; needs
indicate 125,000 ft2
San Francisco
Medical Examiner
GC/MS, LC/MS/MS
Have 3,000 ft2; needs
indicate 10,000 ft2
San Francisco
Police Dept.
FTIR microscope, breath instrument update, LC/MS
Have 14,500 ft2, needs
indicate 65,000 ft2
San Mateo County
Sheriff’s Office
LRIM, digital cameras, large fume hood
Have 28,000 ft2, stated
as not sufficient; no
facilities assessment has
been done
Santa Clara County
District Attorney
GRIM III, balances, microscopes, LC/MS, GC/MS,
computers, crime scene vehicles, DNA/toxicology reagents
Recently acquired
sufficient space of
90,000 ft2
Ventura County
Sheriff’s Dept.
SEM, Micro XRF, GRIM III, x-ray cabinet, GC/MS/MS,
LC/MS/MS, headspace GC, FTIR, 3-D video camera
for crime scene reconstruction, ICPMS, comparison
polarizing scope with phase contrast, Keyence
portable microscope, GC/MS with pyroprobe
Have 20,214 ft2; needs
indicate 95,532 ft2
71
Recommendations
• Laboratoriesshouldensurethattheypossessallequipmentandfacilitiesnecessaryto
provide the highest quality forensic science services and to meet all client demands in a
timely manner.
• Laboratoriesshouldinvestigateandidentifyunderutilizedforensicscienceservicesfor
potential regional consolidation.
• Eachlaboratoryshouldmaintainanequipmentreplacementbudgettoensurethatits
equipment is modern and functional.
Accreditation70
As part of its examination of performance standards, the Task Force reviewed the status of
crime laboratory accreditation in California to make recommendations regarding accreditation
of state and local crime laboratories. The Task Force’s recommendations take into account the
strengths and limitations of existing accreditation programs, both voluntary and mandated,
that pertain to forensic science laboratories in the United States.
Methodology
The Task Force collected information on accreditation in California’s public forensic
laboratories through the written surveys and on-site interviews. The Task Force also
reviewed and considered information gathered from several reports that address
accreditation, such as the 2009 NAS report, as well as information gathered directly from
the various accreditation programs.
Background
Attempts to open lines of communication between forensic science laboratories in the United
States led to the creation of the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors (ASCLD) in
1973 by a small group of crime lab directors convened by then-FBI Director Briggs White.
The group’s formation was the result of a report issued by the Law Enforcement Assistance
Administration (LEAA) that alarmed leaders in the criminal justice and forensic community.
The LEAA researched and reported results of a voluntary proficiency-testing program that
identified serious concerns about the quality of work in the nation’s crime labs.
In 1974, ASCLD was incorporated as a non-profit professional organization with its primary
focus on advocacy, communication, and education. As a result of the LEAA report, the
Committee on Laboratory Evaluation and Standards was formed to respond to the LEAA’s
concerns. As the Committee worked on its mission, it evolved into the Committee on
Laboratory Accreditation. In 1982, the committee was formalized into the Laboratory
Accreditation Board. Then in 1988, the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/
Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB) was formally created as a new corporate entity,
which spun off ASCLD as a strategic partner.
70
Information provided by Task Force member Bob Jarzen.
72
Professional Terminology
“Accreditation” is defined in the forensic science profession as the formal assessment
and recognition by an impartial authority that a forensic laboratory is capable of meeting
and maintaining defined standards of performance, competence, and professionalism.71
Accreditation is a status awarded to forensic laboratories, while certification is earned
by individual forensic scientists. The accreditation of forensic science laboratories is a
voluntary process. An accreditation program for forensic science laboratories involves
independent third-party scrutiny.
A “standard” is a weight or measure to which others conform or by which the accuracy
or quality of others is judged. Standards of performance as they relate to forensic labora­
tories provide the laboratory with specific performance expectations and communicate
expectations to the laboratory and its users. Standards of performance are the observable
actions that explain whether and how accreditation criteria are being met by the
laboratory.
“Competence,” as it relates to a forensic science laboratory, is the ability of the laboratory
to successfully perform the critical scientific functions of forensic science and provide
satisfactory service to the laboratory’s users. It is impossible to define or recognize com­
petence in any objective manner in the absence of standards against which to measure
the performance of a forensic laboratory.
“Professionalism,”asitrelatestoaforensicsciencelaboratory,referstothestanding,
practice, or methods of forensic science and depends on the three pillars of expertise,
ethics, and service. A profession possesses a discrete body of knowledge and skills over
whichitsmembershaveexclusivecontrol.Professionalforensicscientistsareconsidered
experts with a high degree of generalized and systematic knowledge with a theoretical
base. A profession is responsible for the ethical and technical criteria by which its
members are evaluated, and they are subject to discipline for unprofessional conduct.
Thus, professional forensic scientists are governed by a code of ethics. It is expected that
forensic science professionals will gain their livelihood by providing service to the public
in the area of their expertise.
Discussion
Between 1981 and 2009, ASCLD/LAB offered a voluntary forensic laboratory accreditation
program known as the ASCLD/LAB Legacy accreditation program. Most California forensic
laboratories are accredited under this program.
71
Encyclopedia of Forensic Sciences,EditedbySiegel,SaukkoandKnupfer(2000),AcademicPress,Volume1,Glossary,
at p. Aii.
73
The ASCLD/LAB Legacy accreditation program72 consisted of statements of principles
describing acceptable levels of performance and the criteria for evaluation. Each criterion was
assigned a rating:
• Essential–91standardsthatdirectlyaffectandhavefundamentalimpactonthework
product of the laboratory or the integrity of the evidence.
• Important–45standardsthatarekeyindicatorsoftheoverallqualityofthelaboratory
but may not directly affect either the work product or the integrity of the evidence.
• Desirable–16standardsthathavetheleasteffectontheworkproductortheintegrity
of the evidence but which nevertheless enhance the professionalism of the laboratory.
Each laboratory must achieve 100 percent of the essential criteria, 75 percent of the important
criteria, and 50 percent of the desirable criteria. The decision to grant accreditation to the
forensic laboratory can only be made by the ASCLD/LAB Board of Directors.
As of March 31, 2009, the ASCLD/LAB Legacy accreditation program was terminated, and
the ASCLD/LAB-International accreditation program became the only available option.73
Any forensic laboratory seeking ASCLD/LAB-International accreditation must demonstrate
conformance to the requirements in International Organization for Standardization/
International Electrotechnical Commission (ISO/IEC) 17025:2005, General Requirements for the
Competence of Testing and Calibration Laboratories, as well as the ASCLD/LAB-International
Supplemental Requirements for the Accreditation of Forensic Science Laboratories (2006).74
There is no criterion rating system in the ASCLD/LAB-International accreditation program.
Conforming to the numbered requirements in each document is mandatory to achieve or
retain accreditation, unless a requirement does not apply to work conducted in the laboratory.
Once a laboratory has successfully achieved accreditation status under ISO/IEC 17025, the
ASCLD/LAB Accreditation Board monitors continued conformance with accreditation criteria75
in the following ways:
• Requiresannualreportsfromaccreditedlaboratoriesthatincludeadeclarationfrom
the laboratory director of the laboratory’s ongoing conformance with all accreditation
requirements and the laboratory’s own management system;
• Requestsdocumentationandrecordsrelatedtoanyaspectofaccreditationatanytime
during the accreditation cycle;
• Monitorsthelaboratory’sparticipationandperformanceinexternalproficiencytesting
programs;
• Monitorsongoingperformancebyreviewingcomplaintsreceivedandotherformsof
feedback and public media; and
• Conductsannualsurveillancevisitstotheaccreditedlaboratoryatanytimedeemed necessary by the Board.
ASCLD/LAB 2008 Manual, Introduction, at pp. 1–2.
Forensic Quality Services International (FQS-I) offers an ISO/IEC 17025:2005 accreditation program for testing and forensic
laboratories: < http://www.forquality.org/accreditation.htm>.
74
ASCLD/LAB-InternationalAccreditationProgram,ProgramOverview(Mar.2007)
<http://www.ascld-lab.org/international/pdf/alpd3013.pdf>, at p. 3.
75
Ibid., at p. 22.
72
73
74
There are two points to emphasize regarding the use of an ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation
program.76 First, the ISO/IEC 17025 requirements were written by qualified forensic science
experts. Second, the two major goals underlying the requirements of ISO/IEC 17025 are
quality and standardization of results.
ASCLD/LAB adopted four objectives that define the purpose and nature of its accreditation
program.77 They are:
• Toimprovethequalityoflaboratoryservices;
• Toadopt,develop,andmaintainstandardsthatmaybeusedbyalaboratorytoassess
its level of performance and to strengthen its operation;
• Toprovideanindependent,impartial,andobjectivesystembywhichlaboratoriesmay
benefit from a total operational review; and
• Toofferthepublicandusersoflaboratoryservicesameansofidentifyingthose
laboratories that have demonstrated compliance with established standards.
The ASCLD/LAB-International accreditation program introduction states that for a forensic
laboratory to achieve accreditation, it must demonstrate conformance with each applicable
requirement before the ASCLD/LAB Board of Directors votes to accredit. Further, the
forensic laboratory must apply for accreditation in all testing disciplines in which ASCLD/LABInternational provides accreditation and the laboratory provides services (except crime scene).
A laboratory may apply for accreditation in either “forensic science testing” or “forensic
science calibration,” or both. Within each field, accreditation is offered in the following
disciplines:
• Forensicsciencetesting
o Controlled substances
o Toxicology
o Trace evidence
o Biology
o Firearms/toolmarks
o Questioned documents
o Latent prints
o Crime scene
o Digital and multimedia evidence
• Forensicsciencecalibration
o Toxicology – breath alcohol measuring instrument
In addition to the ASCLD/LAB-International accreditation program, laboratories in the United
States and Canada can apply for laboratory accreditation in forensic toxicology through the
American Board of Forensic Toxicology (ABFT). For ABFT accreditation, the applicant
laboratory must be actively engaged in the practice of either or both postmortem forensic
toxicology or human performance toxicology (DUID-type toxicology) to include at least the
detection, identification, and quantitation of alcohol and other drugs in biological specimens.
There is a proficiency test and inspection component to the accreditation program. No public
forensic laboratories in California are accredited by the ABFT.
76
77
MalcolmandPeel,Introduction to Accreditation for Forensic Labs (2004), at p. 10.
ASCLD/LAB-InternationalAccreditationProgram,ProgramOverview(Mar.2007),atp.3.
75
Benefits of Accreditation
Laboratory accreditation encompasses external third-party oversight of laboratory operations,
including whether:
• Laboratoryfacilitiesareadequate;
• Laboratorypersonnelhavetheappropriatebackground(expertiseandexperience)and
opportunities for continuing education to perform assigned tasks satisfactorily; and
• Thelaboratoryhasaqualityassuranceprogramandthedegreetowhichtheprogram
strives for excellence as measured by proficiency testing, periodic assessments, and
other factors affecting reliability and accuracy of test results.
Benefits associated with accreditation of forensic laboratories include:
• Adistinctivemarkofquality,recognizedinternationally,thataffordsexternal
recognition of the forensic laboratory’s distinctive commitment to quality;
• Standardsofqualitybasedonresearchthatwouldberecognizedinternationally;
• Anopportunitytogainvaluableinput,validation,andsupportfrompeers;
• Proven,clear,andintuitiveprocessesforlaboratoryimprovementthataregroundedin
best practices from other forensic laboratories and scientific disciplines;
• Connectiontopeer-recommendedpractices,bestpractices,resources,andanalytical
tools from across the spectrum of accredited forensic laboratories; and
• Greateraccessibilityforforensiclaboratoriestofederalandstategrantprogramsthat
require accreditation as a key component of eligibility.
Accreditation Status of California Crime Laboratories
California’s public forensic laboratories have voluntarily pursued accreditation. Table 13
summarizes the accreditation status of California’s forensic laboratories.
Twocomputerforensicslaboratories—SanDiegoRegionalComputerForensicsLaboratory
inSanDiegoandSiliconValleyRegionalComputerForensicsLaboratoryinMenloPark—
are accredited by ASCLD/LAB. Two private forensic laboratories—Human Identification
Technologies,Inc.,ofRedlandsandSerologicalResearchInstituteofRichmond—areaccredited
by ASCLD/LAB; both laboratories are DNA laboratories. Forensic Analytical Laboratories, Inc.,
is accredited by FQS.
Criticism of Accreditation Programs
Forensic laboratory accreditation programs are not without their critics. Some criticism centers
on the inadequacy of accreditation or other forms of self-regulation to address deficiencies
in the scientific foundations of the field; that is, many areas of forensic science are poorly
validated. One critic declared that “[w]hen whole areas of forensic science are poorly validated
and entire categories of forensic testimony rest on shaky scientific foundations, asking the
forensic scientists who work within those areas to regulate one another is akin to asking the
blind to lead the blind.”78
78
Statement of Task Force member William C. Thompson to the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice,
January 10, 2007.
76
Table 13
Toxicology
Trace
Evidence
Biology
Alameda Co.
Sheriff’s Dept.
ASCLD/LAB
Legacy
1999
4
4
4
4
BFS Central
Valley
ASCLD/LAB
Legacy
1994
4 4* 4
4
4
BFS Chico
ASCLD/LAB
Legacy
1994
4
4
4
BFS Freedom
ASCLD/LAB
Legacy
1994
4 4*
BFS Fresno
ASCLD/LAB
Legacy
1993
4 4* 4
BFS DNA Lab
ASCLD/LAB
Legacy
1993
BFS Latent Prints
& Quest. Docs
ASCLD/LAB
Legacy
1994
BFS Eureka
ASCLD/LAB
Legacy
1994
BFS Redding
ASCLD/LAB
Legacy
BFS Riverside
4
4
4
4‡ 4
4
4
4
4†
4 4* 4
4
4
4
1994
4
4
4
4
4
4
ASCLD/LAB
Legacy
1994
4
4
4
4
BFS Sacramento
ASCLD/LAB
Legacy
1994
4 4* 4
4
4
BFS Santa
Barbara
ASCLD/LAB
Legacy
1994
4
4‡ 4
4
BFS Santa Rosa
ASCLD/LAB
Legacy
1994
4 4* 4
4
4
BFS Toxicology
ASCLD/LAB
Legacy
1994
4
Contra Costa
County Sheriff
ASCLD/LAB
Legacy
2002
4
4
4
4
4
El Cajon
Police Dept.
ASCLD/LAB
Legacy
2003
4
4
Breath Alcohol
Calibration
First
Year
Latent
Prints
Crime
Scene
Digital &
Multimedia
Accreditation
Body
Firearms/
Toolmarks
Questioned
Documents
Forensic
Testing
Laboratory
Controlled
Substances
Accreditation Status of Forensic Laboratories in California
4 4
77
Table 13 continued
Trace
Evidence
Biology
Fresno
County Sheriff
FQS-ISO
2008
4
4
Kern County
District Attorney
ASCLD/LAB
Legacy
2006
4
4
4
4
4
4
Long Beach
Police Dept.
ASCLD/LAB
Legacy
2003
4 4*
4
4
4
Los Angeles
County Coroner
ASCLD/LAB
Legacy
1996
4
4
4
Los Angeles
County Sheriff
ASCLD/LAB
Legacy
1989
4
4 4
4
4
4 4
Los Angeles
Police Dept.
ASCLD/LAB
Legacy
1998
4
4 4
4
4
4
Oakland
Police Dept.
ASCLD/LAB
Legacy
1983
4
4
4
4
Orange
County Sheriff
ASCLD/LAB
ISO
1992
4
4
4
4
4
4
Sacramento Co.
District Attorney
ASCLD/LAB
Legacy
2000
4
4
4
4
4
4
San Bernardino
County Sheriff
ASCLD/LAB
Legacy
1995
4 4* 4
4
4
4
San Diego
County Sheriff
ASCLD/LAB
Legacy
2003
4 4* 4
4
4
4 4
4
San Diego
Police Dept.
ASCLD/LAB
Legacy
1997
4 4* 4
4
4
4 4
4
San Francisco
Police Dept.
ASCLD/LAB
Legacy
2005
4
4
4
4
4
San Mateo
County Sheriff
ASCLD/LAB
Legacy
2005
4 4* 4
4
4
4
Santa Clara Co.
District Attorney
ASCLD/LAB
Legacy
1996
4
4
4
4
4
4 4
4
Ventura County
Sheriff
ASCLD/LAB
ISO
2003
4
4
4
4
4
78
4 4
Breath Alcohol
Calibration
First
Year
Toxicology
Latent
Prints
Crime
Scene
Digital &
Multimedia
Accreditation
Body
Controlled
Substances
Forensic
Testing
Laboratory
Firearms/
Toolmarks
Questioned
Documents
Accreditation Status of Forensic Laboratories in California
4
Abbreviations and symbols used in Table 13:
• ASCLD/LABLegacy–AmericanSocietyofCrimeLaboratoryDirectors/LaboratoryAccreditationBoardLegacyaccreditation
program
• ASCLD/LABISO–AmericanSocietyofCrimeLaboratoryDirectors/LaboratoryAccreditationBoardInternationalaccreditation
program
• FQS-ISO–ForensicQualityServices–Internationalaccreditationprogram
4* Toxicology subdiscipline alcohol testing
4† Biology subdiscipline DNA (nuclear and mitochondrial)
4‡ Biology subdiscipline serology (body fluid identification)
While the NAS report called for mandatory accreditation of crime laboratories, it noted that
accreditation is “just one aspect of an organization’s quality assurance program, which should
also include proficiency testing where relevant, continuing education and other programs
to help the organization provide better overall services.” The report went on to state that
“accreditation does not mean that accredited laboratories do not make mistakes, nor does
it mean that a laboratory utilizes best practices in every case, but rather, it means that the
laboratory adheres to an established set of standards of quality and relies on acceptable
practices within these requirements.”79
Mandating Accreditation
There are advantages and disadvantages to a mandated accreditation program. For example,
the cost of ASCLD/LAB or FQS-ISO accreditation can run into the thousands of dollars for even
a moderately sized forensic laboratory. It is an open question whether mandated accreditation
of California’s crime laboratories would permit lab parent agencies to claim reimbursement
from the state for costs.
New York and Texas are two notable examples of mandated accreditation of a state’s crime
laboratories. In New York, state law requires the state’s Commission on Forensic Science to
develop minimum standards and a program of accreditation for all forensic laboratories in
New York. Further, the laboratory director and personnel involved in DNA testing are required
to satisfy appropriate educational and training standards. The commission requires that any
forensic laboratory performing DNA testing must be accredited by ASCLD/LAB. In disciplines
other than DNA testing, forensic laboratories must be accredited by ASCLD/LAB or, if the
laboratory is performing only toxicology analysis, by either ASCLD/LAB or the American Board
of Forensic Toxicology (ABFT). The New York accreditation program requires documentation
of accreditation by ASCLD/LAB and information pertaining to the application process, the
accreditation inspection, the summation conference, the final inspection report, and
disciplinary actions or proceedings. Sanctions are imposed for noncompliance.
TheTexasmandatedaccreditationprogramrequirestheTexasDepartmentofPublicSafety
(DPS)toaccreditanindividuallaboratoryforadmissionofevidenceortestimonyifthe
laboratory conducts forensic analysis of physical evidence for use in a criminal trial. The
DPSdirectorrecognizesASCLD/LAB,FQS-ISO,ABFT,theTexasDepartmentofHealthand
Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHA), and
theCollegeofAmericanPathologists(CAP)asappropriateaccreditingbodies.Alaboratory
mayapplytothedirectorforDPSaccreditationinforensicdisciplinesforwhichaccreditation
isavailablefromarecognizedaccreditingbody.However,theprogramexcludesDPS
79
NAS report, at p. 195.
79
accreditation of breath specimen testing, latent print examination, digital evidence, autopsies
conducted by a medical examiner, forensic photography, non-criminal paternity testing, and
other forensic subdisciplines. If accredited by ASCLD/LAB, the laboratory must provide the
DPSdirectorwithacopyofeachannualaccreditationreviewreport.Thereisasystemfor
complaints, special review, and administrative actions against the laboratory. Most notably,
Texas includes private forensic laboratories, both in-state and out-of-state, in its accreditation
program.
Strengths and Limitations of Existing Accreditation Programs
Accreditation is a process of comparison and evaluation of a forensic laboratory’s operation
against the requirements of ISO/IEC 17025 and other supplemental accreditation requirements.
Further, accreditation is a process with a course of
action directed toward quality improvement that
continues indefinitely and is not intended to be
an absolute guarantee of accuracy and reliability.
However, forensic laboratory accreditation
does offer laboratory clients a greater degree
of confidence in the results produced by the
laboratory. Under the ASCLD/LAB-International
accreditation program, a forensic laboratory must
meet all requirements to become accredited. If a
laboratory fails to meet a requirement, a corrective
action request is created, and the laboratory must
prove that the requirement has been addressed to
the assessor’s satisfaction.
Laboratory Accreditation and
State-Level Oversight
The Task Force has considered, and will continue
to study, the establishment of state-level oversight
of forensic science in California. The following
paragraphs describe the ways in which current accreditation standards address or do not
address concerns underlying the call for statewide forensic science oversight.80
• AllocationofresourcesandinefficiencyarenotdirectlyaddressedbytheISO/IEC 17025 or other supplemental accreditation requirements. Allocation of resources is
agency dependent; in other words, it depends on how the parent agency perceives the
value of the crime laboratory and whether the agency adequately funds laboratory
operations.Regardlessofthebudgetofthelaboratory,itisestimatedthat10percent
to 15 percent of the laboratory’s budget may be spent on establishing and maintaining
the laboratory’s quality system. There may be small gains in efficiencies tied to better
purchasing practices.
80
Numbered requirements in the following paragraphs refer to the ASCLD/LAB-International ISO/IEC 17025:2005
requirements and ASCLD/LAB-InternationalSupplementalAccreditationRequirements.
80
• Accreditationrequirementsprotectthe“independence”oflaboratories.Forexample,
ISO/IEC management requirements mitigate conflicts of interest (4.1.4) by requiring a
demonstration of professional independence from other parts of the parent agency
and freedom from internal and external pressures (4.1.5(b)). ISO/IEC management
requirements also scrutinize the lab’s organizational relationships (4.1.5(e)), focusing
on the position of the laboratory within the parent organization and the reporting
relationship between management, quality assurance program staff, and technical
operations. Finally, accreditation addresses the authority of scientific personnel
(4.1.5(f)) whose work affects the examination of exhibits and the reporting of the
results, the qualifications of supervisors (4.1.5(g)), and the presence of a quality
manager (4.1.5(i)) responsible for quality assurance and reporting directly to the
laboratory director.
• Bestpracticesforforensicdisciplinesandresearchprioritiesareelementsof accreditation. ISO/IEC mandates a comprehensive laboratory quality system (4.2.1) to
ensure both the quality and accuracy of the test results. Accreditation also requires
standard operating procedures, instructions or methods for performing examinations,
and directions for running instruments. In addition, the accreditation process assesses
a lab’s selection of methods (5.4.2) that meet the forensic needs of the laboratory’s
clients and includes the use of standard methods, although these methods may not
apply to all forensic samples. A laboratory’s development and validation of in-house
methods are considered, as are details of method validation (5.4.5.2). However,
accreditation requirements do not address priorities for forensic research.
• Thestandardizationofterminologyandtheimprovedcommunicationofforensic
science findings are addressed in part by accreditation. A supplemental accreditation
requirement addresses standardizing abbreviations or symbols specific to the
laboratory (4.13.2.13) by ensuring that the meaning of the abbreviations or symbols is
clearly documented. However, accreditation requirements do not address standard­
izing report terminology. There is considerable discussion in ISO/IEC manuals
concerning reports (5.10.1, 5.10.2, 5.10.3, and 5.10.4) as the means for communicating
test results to the client, and ISO/IEC mandates include a list of all the information that
is expected to be in the laboratory report (5.10.2). Supplemental accreditation
requirements discuss the significance of an association being clearly communicated
and properly qualified in the report (5.10.3.5), and when no definitive conclusions can
be reached, the reasons must be documented in the case record (5.10.3.6). Further,
the author or authors of the test report must have conducted, participated in,
observed, supervised, or technically reviewed the testing (5.10.3.7). Finally, opinions
and interpretations presented in the report (5.10.5) have to be well documented.
• ISO/IECrequirementsaddresseducationandtrainingneedsofforensicscientists
(5.2.1) with mandates that require particular levels of education, training, experience,
and demonstrated competence of the scientific staff. ISO/IEC identifies training needs
(5.2.2) and creation of a formal plan containing goals set by the laboratory for training
and professional development, as well as procedures for retraining and maintenance of
skills and court training. Supplemental accreditation requirements go further in pro­
viding educational qualifications for technical personnel (5.2.6.1.1, 5.2.6.1.2,
5.2.6.1.1.3, 5.2.6.4, and 5.6.2.1.5) in specific forensic disciplines; requirements for
competency testing (5.2.6.2, 5.6.2.1, 5.6.2.2, 5.6.2.3, and 5.6.2.4) that require a
81
satisfactorily completed competency test before assuming casework responsibilities; and a documented proficiency testing program (5.9.3) that maintains records of proficiency testing (5.9.3.5) to include any discre­
pancies noted and details of corrective actions taken. Accreditation does not address the coordination or delivery of continuing education programs.
• Accreditationdoesnotaddress
the need for independent inves­
tigations of negligence and misconduct. ISO/IEC does provide a means for a lab to internally process complaints (4.8), such as establishing a complaint file and identifying the individuals responsible for investigating the complaints, correcting the problems, and contactingtheclient.Procedures
also exist for control of non­
conforming testing (4.9) and corrective action (4.10). Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office
Corrective action involves identi­
Laboratory of Criminalistics
fying the root cause (4.10.1, 4.10.2, 4.10.3, 4.10.4, and 4.10.5), taking preventive measures (4.11), and anticipating problems before they occur (4.11.1 and 4.11.2). ISO/IEC also requires internal audits (4.13) to verify that the laboratory’s quality system is functioning properly and complies
with its own procedures and ISO/IEC 17025. As a final requirement, ISO/IEC discusses
annual management reviews (4.14) that assess whether laboratory management is
committed to and involved in the operation of the laboratory and its quality system.
Accreditation of Limited Service Forensic Science Units
Another limitation of the accreditation model, as noted in the NAS report, is that not all
government forensic scientists work in accredited laboratories. The NAS report notes that
“identification units—that is, those forensic entities outside crime laboratories—do not
participate in accreditation systems and are not required to do so. Given that some disciplines
are practiced largely outside the laboratory environment (e.g., 66 percent of fingerprint
analyses are not conducted in crime laboratories) there is a substantial gap in the number of
programs participating in accreditation.”81 This gap also exists in California. For example,
81
NAS report, at p. 200.
82
in various jurisdictions around the state the latent print unit is not deemed part of the crime
laboratory and is therefore out of compliance with accreditation requirements. In some
jurisdictions, experts who process crime scenes work in accredited crime laboratories; in other
jurisdictions, they do not.
ASCLD/LAB-International82 defines “crime/forensic laboratory” as a laboratory with at least
one full-time scientist who examines physical evidence in criminal matters and provides
opinion testimony with respect to such physical evidence in a court of law. And a “scientist”
is defined as a person who employs scientific methods in the examination of evidence in a
forensic laboratory. These broad definitions permit eligible sheriff and police departments that
operate latent print units, digital evidence units, or crime scene units to apply for accreditation
to ASCLD/LAB-InternationalorFQS-ISO.Privatelaboratoriesandlawenforcementagencies
are largely conducting forensic examinations without any form of comparison, review, or
evaluation of their work against national accreditation standards. Accreditation would offer
formal recognition that these agencies are competent to carry out the specific tests in the
forensic services they provide. (This Task Force report does not address private laboratory or
limited service law enforcement programs.)
Recommendations
• AllCaliforniapubliccrimelaboratoriesshouldbeaccreditedthroughoneofthe
available crime laboratory accreditation programs. The Task Force does not see a need
to establish a parallel or unique forensic laboratory accreditation program in California.
Conformance to existing accreditation programs is a rigorous and time-consuming
endeavor for even the smallest forensic laboratories, and it is unlikely that any of
California’s public crime laboratories would allow their accreditation status to lapse
because the cost would be too great, especially the cost to the reputation of the
forensic laboratory and its ability to acquire grant funding. Direct applications to the
National Institute of Justice for DNA and forensic science improvement grants require
proof of accreditation status to be considered for grant funding.
• Thestateshouldfurtherstudywhetherorhowforensicscienceactivitiesthatoccur
outside of accredited crime laboratories could be brought within an accredited
organization.
82
ASCLD/LAB-InternationalSupplementalRequirements–Testing,January2006.
83
84
Chapter 6
Statewide Forensic
Science Oversight
During its discussions on ways to improve crime laboratory services in California, the Task
Force repeatedly debated the potential advantages and disadvantages of creating a statewide
advisory or regulatory body to facilitate or oversee the delivery of forensic science services in
the state. The idea is a controversial one in some respects, although a consensus exists on
several basic principles.
Some members of the Task Force view the creation of a state advisory body for forensic
science as a vital and necessary step. They believe such a body could play a crucial role in the
following areas:
• Improvingtheallocationofforensicscienceresources;
• Protectingtheindependenceofcrimelaboratories;
• Establishingandpromotingbestpractices;
• Establishingprioritiesforeducation,training,andresearch;
• Movingtowardstandardizationofterminologyandreportingofresults;and
• Investigatingallegationsofseriousnegligenceandmisconduct.
Other Task Force members had strong reservations about the idea, questioning both the
need for and the desirability of such a statewide body, particularly if it were empowered to
micromanagelocalcrimelaboratoryoperations.TheCaliforniaDepartmentofPublicHealth’s
regulation of forensic alcohol testing was cited as an example to be avoided. Further, some
TaskForcemembersbelievethattheDepartmentofPublicHealthexerciseditsregulatory
authority in an obtuse and arbitrary manner, forcing laboratories to comply with rules in a way
thatwascumbersomeandinefficientanddiscouragedinnovation.TheDepartmentofPublic
Health’s regulatory authority over forensic alcohol testing is currently under review.83 There
are, however, a number of helpful functions that a statewide body could potentially perform
that would not necessarily entail micromanagement, and this Task Force proposes to examine
all sides of this issue in the next year.
83
See also California State Auditor, Department of Health Services: The Forensic Alcohol Program Needs to Reevaluate Its
Regulatory Efforts (Aug. 1999) <http://www.bsa.ca.gov/pdfs/reports/97025.1.pdf>.
85
The Need for Statewide Oversight of Forensic Science Services
in California
The call for a unified, statewide perspective on forensic science issues is a product of the
various concerns expressed in this report. While some laboratory shortcomings identified
by the Task Force can be addressed locally by individual laboratories, others would be most
effectively studied, and corrected, through inter-jurisdiction coordination and advocacy at a
state government level. Thus, the creation of a statewide entity concerned with the timely
delivery of reliable forensic science should be considered.
Improving Allocation of Resources and Reducing Inefficiency
Forensic science provides tremendous benefit to society by helping solve crime. The Task
Force has found, however, that crime laboratories in California do not always achieve their
full potential because of lack of funding. Funding is not only limited but is uneven, with
some jurisdictions receiving more support than others, and some services, such as DNA
testing, receiving more support than other services. One major finding of the Task Force is
that more study is needed to determine appropriate staffing levels for crime laboratories and
optimal funding levels for various crime laboratory functions. The Legislature and funding
agencies need to know which funding requests will produce the greatest benefits per dollar
spent in order to allocate resources in an efficient, cost-effective manner. Moreover, both
the Legislature and local governments will benefit from knowing the number of criminalists
a crime lab should employ in order to serve a community of a particular population with a
particular crime rate.
A state-level advisory body could help meet
this need by conducting or commissioning
studies to determine appropriate staffing
and support levels and making the findings
known to the Legislature and local
governments. The advisory body could take
a systemic view to determine what forensic
science services are most needed and what
mechanisms for delivering those services will
be most cost-effective. The advisory body
could then serve as an authoritative voice,
helping to educate the Legislature about
the benefits of forensic science and offering
guidance on funding priorities.
In concept, a statewide advisory body could recommend to laboratories ways to streamline
funding needs by performing an overall assessment of funding priorities. At present, the
allocation of funding for new services is done by local agencies and is driven partly by
demand. But demand is not always the best indicator of which services will contribute most
to solving crime. High demand currently exists for additional DNA testing services in part
because police agencies have become familiar with the benefits of DNA evidence. However,
other forensic services could contribute as much or more to solving crime, perhaps at lower
cost.Policeagenciesmayfailtoseekthoseservicessimplybecausetheydonotknowtheyare
available, or do not understand their benefits. A holistic statewide perspective of the forensics
field may encourage more efficient allocation of limited resources.
86
Funding inefficiencies might be reduced if a state-level advisory body existed that could study
and make recommendations about funding priorities. For example, the City of Glendale and
the Los Angeles County Coroner have both committed substantial funding to create their
own separate DNA testing laboratories. However, this may not be an optimal use of scarce
taxpayer dollars. Careful study might reveal, for example, that it would be more efficient to
expand the DNA testing capability of the existing laboratories operated by the Los Angeles
PoliceDepartmentandtheLosAngelesCountySheriff’sDepartmentthantocreateentirely
new DNA laboratories. This is particularly true in the case of the Coroner, which reports
needing the services of at most one DNA analyst to meet its testing needs in non-criminal
matters, but will be compelled to hire at least two DNA analysts to meet standards for
laboratory accreditation. Adding a DNA laboratory may also strain the Coroner’s laboratory
facilities, possibly creating the need for another building, while the necessary testing could
beaccommodatedinexistingfacilitiesoftheLosAngelesPoliceDepartmentorSheriff’s
Department.
Standardizing Terminology and Improving Communication of Findings
Laboratory findings must be communicated to those in the criminal justice system in a
manner that is accurate and comprehensible both on and off the witness stand. Standardized
communication of laboratory findings would go far in achieving this goal. Standards could
be established regarding what information should be included in laboratory reports, as well
how such findings should be best communicated in a courtroom. In addition, a statewide
advisory body could formulate and suggest standardized laboratory performance metrics (e.g.,
“backlog”) to facilitate statewide planning efforts and coordination.
In 2009, the National Academy of Sciences declared that “[t]here is a critical need in most
fields of forensic science to raise the standards for reporting and testifying about the results
of investigations.”84 The NAS report noted that many forensic science disciplines have not
reached agreement on the precise meaning of terms that are commonly used in report
writing and courtroom testimony, such as “match,” “consistent with,” or “identification.”
Because confusion about terminology has created difficulties in communicating results
clearly to lawyers, judges, and juries, there is a need to standardize terms and establish
best practices for communicating results. The National Academy of Sciences suggested that
a new federal agency, the National Institute of Forensic Science (NIFS), “should establish
standard terminology to be used in reporting on and testifying about the results of forensic
science investigations.”85 However, at this point it is unclear whether such an agency will be
established. Although existing accreditation standards, particularly ISO 17025, are contributing
to standardized reporting, more needs to be done to assure that findings are communicated
effectively throughout the justice system.
Interviews with laboratory directors also revealed inconsistency in laboratories’ practices
regarding disclosure of information to attorneys, and some uncertainty exists about the scope
of the legal obligation to disclose. Some laboratories report devoting considerable time to
discovery issues that might be better devoted to direct provision of services. A statewide
advisory body might usefully establish best practice standards in this area as well.
84
85
NAS report, at p. 185.
Ibid., at p. 189.
87
Evaluating the Education and Training Needs of Forensic Scientists
This report has emphasized the importance of education and training to the future of forensic
science in California. Although California is fortunate to possess substantial educational and
training resources, it is clear that the needs of forensic laboratories are not fully being met.
Lack of funding is a major issue, but part of the problem is also the diversity of the existing
resources and a lack of coordination in how these resources are used. A statewide advisory
body could play a useful role in this area by making recommendations to policy makers and
funding agencies about how best to use existing resources to meet statewide needs.
Investigating Serious Negligence and Misconduct
One potential function of a statewide advisory body could be to act as a clearinghouse
for complaints and allegations concerning serious misconduct or negligence in California
laboratories. Even if not conducting or overseeing the resulting investigations themselves, the
advisory body could ensure that investigations are referred to the proper entity and conducted
in a manner that satisfies federal grant requirements.
Strengths and Limitations of Existing Self-Regulatory Methods
Accreditation
Accreditation plays a vital role in laboratory quality assurance and quality control. The fact that
all of California’s public crime laboratories are now accredited speaks well of their commitment
to providing quality services. Funding agencies must continue to recognize the need for
laboratory accreditation and to support accreditation efforts.
But laboratory accreditation, by itself, does not meet all laboratory needs identified in this
report. By design, accreditation does not address issues related to the efficient allocation of
resources among laboratories in different jurisdictions or among various laboratory services
on a statewide level. Nor does accreditation address the need to coordinate education and
training statewide. Moreover, as noted previously, not all forensic science services occur in
accredited laboratories.
Certification
Certification also plays an important role in quality assurance. California should support and
expand opportunities for government-employed forensic scientists to become certified. In the
future, the state should consider making certification mandatory for government experts who
testify in court. Like accreditation, however, certification by design does not meet the need for
broader oversight of the field with regard to allocation of resources, education, and planning.
Should the federal government adopt or enact new certification or accreditation requirements
for crime laboratories, a California advisory body would be in the best position to advise
state leaders on how to address such changes. The state should consider existing methods
for ensuring quality forensic science, such as ASCLD/LAB accreditation, when formulating
California policy and responding to federal mandates or incentives.
88
Forensic Science Oversight: Other States’ Approaches
States across the nation are adopting unified statewide approaches to forensic science issues
with increasing frequency. At least 15 states have created an entity charged with some degree
of oversight over crime laboratories. The approaches taken by these entities vary broadly
along a spectrum of proactive to reactive. Likewise, the scope of their concerns ranges from
limited to comprehensive while the nature of their authority extends from firm control over
laboratory licenses and operations to passive recommendations to policymakers. So too does
the composition and support staff infrastructure, and agency placement of these entities,
differ from state to state. Nonetheless, most of these state entities share certain functional
features, and they possess common concerns about the challenges facing crime laboratories.
Ideally, examining other states’ approaches to forensic science oversight will provide California
policymakers with a menu of options as they consider the best statewide approach to
facilitating high-quality forensic science testing.
In devising a state forensic science body, a fundamental question to be answered is whether
a body will be authorized to assert independent regulatory control—from a fiscal, scientific,
or operational perspective—over laboratories, or whether the body’s mission will be advisory
in nature. One perspective is that an oversight body’s purpose is to monitor and study crime
laboratory operations in order to keep the state legislature and other interested state agencies
informed of the needs of the forensic science community. This kind of body advocates for
increased funding or reforms from a neutral perspective. It could also encourage or facilitate
scientific research in the forensic disciplines. As an adjunct to its advisory function, a body
often has the power to investigate allegations of wrongdoing, negligence, or substandard
science and issue public reports describing its findings.
CaliforniaDepartmentofJustice,BureauofForensicServices,JanBashinskiDNALaboratory,Richmond
89
A competing perspective maintains that an oversight body should have binding regulatory
authority over laboratories, or at least have influence based on the ability to withhold funding
or issue licenses. These bodies apply subject-matter expertise to questions of laboratory
management, scientific best practices, and professional standards without necessarily involving
the legislature. Adopting this approach would require thorough delineation of standards
and expectations for crime laboratories. In addition, care would have to be taken to avoid
redundancy or conflict between existing quality control requirements and those that would
be enforced by an oversight body. For example, observation of ASCLD/LAB Legacy or ISO
standards already may be sufficient to ensure that laboratories use valid methodologies and
best practices.
Creating a statewide oversight body also requires practical considerations such as its funding
source; use of permanent staff; composition and appointment procedures; meeting schedule;
reporting obligations; and ability to use other state resources, facilities, and personnel.
Existing State Oversight Entities
The following state entities, listed in alphabetical order, are those that were created to
address and improve forensic science practices. The source of their authority or other origin
is indicated parenthetically; Appendix K provides a detailed description of each program.
• AlabamaCoroner’sTrainingCommission(CodeofAla.§11-5-31)
• ArizonaForensicSciencesAdvisoryCommittee(FormedbytheArizonaAttorney
General in cooperation with the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission.
Seehttp://www.azag.gov/law_enforcement/ColdCaseTaskForceReport2007.pdf)
• IllinoisLaboratoryAdvisoryCommittee(20Ill.Comp.Stat.3981/1etseq.)
• IndianaCommissiononForensicSciences(BurnsInd.CodeAnn.§4-23-6-1etseq.)
• MarylandForensicLaboratoryAdvisoryCommittee
(Md.CodeAnn.,Health-Gen§§17-2A-12;17-2A-01etseq.)
• MassachusettsInspectorGeneral(Seehttp://www.mass.gov/ig)
• MinnesotaForensicLaboratoryAdvisoryBoard(Minn.Stat.§299C.156)
• MissouriCrimeLaboratoryReviewCommission(Exec.Order07-16(June2007)
[complementary legislation pending: SB 8 (2009)])
• MontanaForensicScienceLaboratoryAdvisoryBoard
(See http://www.doj.mt.gov/enforcement/crimelab/default.asp#advisoryboard)
• NewMexicoDNAOversightCommittee(N.M.Stat.§29-16-5)
• NewYorkCommissiononForensicScience(NYCLSExec§995etseq.)
• RhodeIslandCrimeLaboratoryCommission(R.I.Gen.Laws§12-1.1-1etseq.)
• TexasForensicScienceCommission(Tex.CodeCrim.Proc.art.38.01)
• VirginiaForensicScienceBoard(Va.CodeAnn.§9.1-1109etseq.)
• VirginiaScientificAdvisoryCommittee(Va.CodeAnn.§9.1-1111)
• WashingtonStateForensicInvestigationsCouncil
(Rev.CodeWash.§43.103.010etseq.)
90
Creation of a Crime Laboratory Advisory Board in California
Although not expressly included in the Task Force
mandate, it became increasingly clear during
discussions that the creation of some type of crime
lab advisory, review, or oversight body is warranted.
Ratherthanfurtherdelayreleaseofthereport
mandatedbyPenalCodesection11062,theTask
Force members unanimously determined to continue
deliberations for up to one additional year specifically
on this issue. The members felt that the effort
already expended on reviewing materials, including
presentations at the public sessions and discussing
the need for a statewide body and the form it should
take, should continue. The Task Force will review
and evaluate the various oversight models used by
other states, as well as solicit further input from lab
directors, controlling agencies, stakeholders, and
relevant professional organizations. The Task Force
will then consider the following issues in a
supplemental report:
• Composition(i.e.,numberofmembers,appointingauthority,andterms);
• Funding,organization,andstaffing;
• Functions;and
• Reportingrequirements.
As noted in the beginning of this report, forensic science provides a valuable tool for the
investigation and prosecution of criminal acts, including the exclusion and exoneration of
the innocent. This report recommends ways in which public crime labs in California can
better serve those needs. The Task Force will build on this effort in its further study and
supplemental report with the goal of ensuring that California provides the highest level of
forensic services to the benefit of all the state’s citizens.
Recommendation
• Californiashouldestablishastatewidebodytoconsiderissuesrelatedtoforensic
science. The specifics of this proposal, including the composition and functions of
this body, will be described in a supplemental report published within one year of
this report.
91
92
Appendix A
Task Force Member Biographies
Task Force Chair:
Dane Gillette, Chief Assistant Attorney General
California Attorney General’s Office
Dane Gillette is the Chief Assistant in charge of the Criminal Division at the California Attorney
General’s Office, a position he has held since January 2007. From 1992 to 2007, he served
as the Attorney General’s statewide capital case coordinator. Mr. Gillette graduated from
Occidental College in 1972 and from Hastings College of Law in 1975, and he joined the
Attorney General’s Office in 1975. In addition to his position as Chief Assistant, Mr. Gillette
is Chair of the California Crime Laboratory Review Task Force, serves on the Judicial Council’s
Criminal Law Advisory Committee, and is on the board of directors and a past president of the
Association of Government Attorneys in Capital Litigation (AGACL).
During his career Mr. Gillette has represented the state on numerous occasions before the
California Supreme Court and United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and twice
before the Supreme Court of the United States. He lectures regularly on issues pertaining to
capital litigation and federal habeas corpus and has received awards for excellence from the
Attorney General’s Office, the California District Attorney’s Association, and AGACL.
(Listed in alphabetical order)
Michael Burt, Criminal Defense Attorney
Law Office of Michael Burt
Michael Burt is a certified criminal specialist in private practice in San Francisco, and he is also
a Federal Death Penalty Resource Counsel. Prior to entering private practice in January 2003,
he was head trial attorney with the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office where he practiced
trial work for 25 years. Mr. Burt has specialized in the defense of capital cases since 1982, with
an emphasis on forensic science issues. From 1993 to 2003, he was the editor-in-chief of the
California Death Penalty Defense Manual. He lectures throughout the country on all aspects of
capital case defense and forensic science issues.
Dolores A. Carr, District Attorney
Santa Clara County
Dolores Carr was elected as the Santa Clara County District Attorney on November 6, 2006.
During the past 29 years, Ms. Carr has worked in private practice, was a Deputy District
Attorney for 15 years, and was a Superior Court Judge from 2000 to 2006. She served as the
Supervising Judge of the Family Division and the Supervising Judge of the Unified Family Court.
She was appointed to the Board of Reappraisers for the California State Bar in 1991 and, until
2004, was one of nine attorneys in the state responsible for developing questions for and
supervising the grading of the California Bar Exam. Ms. Carr received an undergraduate degree
in Spanish with honors from UC Berkeley in 1975, earned her J.D. in 1980 from Southwestern
University School of Law, and was admitted to the California Bar in 1980.
93
Arturo Castro, Attorney
Office of the General Counsel, Judicial Council of California
Arturo Castro is an attorney with the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), the staff
agency to the Judicial Council, the policy and rule-making body for the California judicial
branch. Mr. Castro has worked in the AOC’s Office of the General Counsel since 2007, first in
the Legal Opinion Unit and currently in the Rules and Projects Unit. Prior to joining the AOC,
he worked as a deputy public defender in Los Angeles County from 1999 to 2005. Mr. Castro
graduated from UC Berkeley in 1995 and from Boalt Hall School of Law in 1998. He is the
AOC’s staff attorney to the Judicial Council’s Criminal Law Advisory Committee.
Barry Fisher, Director (Retired)
Crime Laboratory, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
Barry Fisher served as the Crime Laboratory Director for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s
Department from 1987 to 2009. He started his career in criminalistics in 1969 at the crime lab
and worked in a wide variety of assignments. His current interests include the interrelationship
between forensic science and the law along with public policy issues concerning the timely
delivery of quality forensic support services to the criminal justice system.
Mr. Fisher is a member of several professional organizations: a distinguished fellow and pastpresident of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences; a past-president of the International
Association of Forensic Sciences; a past-president of the American Society of Crime Laboratory
Directors; and a former chair of the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors –
Laboratory Accreditation Board. Mr. Fisher is on the editorial boards of the Journal of Forensic
Sciences; the Journal of Forensic Identification; Forensic Science, Medicine and Pathology;
Forensic Science Policy and Management; and the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and
Technology. He is also a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police Forensics
Committee. His textbook, Techniques of Crime Scene Investigation, is in its 7th edition,
and he is co-author of Introduction to Criminalistics: The Foundation of Forensic Science and
Forensics Demystified. Mr. Fisher received a B.S. degree in chemistry from the City College
of New York. He holds an M.S. degree in Organic Chemistry from Purdue University and an
M.B.A. from CSU Northridge.
Jennifer Friedman, Deputy Public Defender
Los Angeles County
Jennifer Friedman has been a Deputy Public Defender in Los Angeles County for more than
23 years. Ms. Friedman graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1984 and
the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Law School in 1986. She is currently the Assistant
Special Circumstances Coordinator and Forensic Science Coordinator for the Los Angeles
County Public Defender’s Office. She assists in the supervision of the office’s capital cases and
represents clients charged with capital murder. She has tried over 130 felony jury trials, many
of which were sexual assaults and homicides involving complex scientific issues. Ms. Friedman
is a contributing writer for the expert section of the California Death Penalty Manual, and she
is a frequent lecturer on the death penalty and the use of forensic sciences in the courts.
94
Dean M. Gialamas, Director
Forensic Science Service Division, Orange County Sheriff’s Department
Dean Gialamas has been active in the field of forensic science for many years and is currently
the President of the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors (ASCLD) and the ASCLD
representative to the Consortium of Forensic Science Organizations. He has experience in
both public and private forensic labs. He has received awards for his contributions to the field
of forensic science and has presented numerous papers to professional organizations, written
several articles in peer reviewed journals, and authored a textbook chapter. Mr. Gialamas
earned two B.S. degrees in Chemistry and Biology from UC Irvine and earned an M.S. degree
in Criminalistics from CSU Los Angeles. He holds professional certification in forensic science
from the American Board of Criminalistics and is a graduate of the West Point Leadership and
Command Academy.
Robert A. Jarzen, Director
Laboratory of Forensic Services, Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office
Robert Jarzen has been the Director of the Laboratory of Forensic Services for the Sacramento
County District Attorney’s Office since January 1991. Prior to working in Sacramento he was
employed as a criminalist and supervisor with the Arizona Department of Public Safety Crime
Laboratory for 16 years in various scientific and managerial positions. During his career he has
served as President of both the Southwestern Association of Forensic Scientists (SWAFS) and
the California Association of Crime Laboratory Directors (CACLD).
Mr. Jarzen was the CACLD representative on the California State Attorney General’s Forensic
Science Task Force, the California State Attorney General’s Task Force on Post-Conviction DNA,
the California State Attorney General’s Proposition 69 Implementation Committee, and the
California Crime Laboratory Review Task Force. He has also served on the Board of Directors
of the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors. Mr. Jarzen is an Adjunct Professor
in forensic science at CSU Sacramento. He was also the Graduate Program Coordinator and
Practitioner-in-Residence at the University of New Haven California Campus from 1997 to
2006. Mr. Jarzen was invited by the U.S. Department of Justice to teach leadership skills to
crime laboratory directors from Boznia-Hercezegovina in Budapest, Hungary, and he was
subsequently selected by the U.S. Department of Justice for a teaching assignment in the
Republic of Kosovo. He is currently a consultant for Mexico’s Secretariat of Public Security and
is assisting Mexico in the development of a national crime laboratory.
Elizabeth A. Johnson, Ph.D., Forensic Scientist
Consultant
Elizabeth Johnson is a graduate of Wofford College and the Medical University of South
Carolina. She has been a practicing forensic scientist since 1992, specializing in forensic
biology and DNA issues. She established and directed the DNA laboratory at the Harris
County Medical Examiner’s Office in Houston, Texas, from 1992 to 1996, then worked at
Technical Associates, a private criminalistics laboratory in Ventura, California, for six years.
Dr. Johnson has been instrumental in exposing bad work done by other laboratories including
the exposé of the Houston Police Department Crime Laboratory’s DNA testing that lead to the
closure of the lab and re-examination of hundreds of cases. She is currently a sole practitioner
providing review, consultation, testimony, and education to those in need of assistance with
forensic biology matters.
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Sam Lucia, Lieutenant
San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department
Sam Lucia is a 20-year veteran of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department and serves
as the California Peace Officers’ Association representative on the Task Force. Lieutenant Lucia
has served as a deputy sheriff, detective, supervisor, and more recently as the executive officer
for the Department’s Scientific Investigations Division’s Crime Lab.
Gregory Matheson, Director
Criminalistics Laboratory, Los Angeles Police Department
Gregory Matheson is currently the Director of the Los Angeles Police Department’s
Criminalistics Laboratory. He has been with the laboratory as a criminalist, supervisor, and
manager for more than 31 years. As a criminalist, he was court qualified in toxicology,
serology, crime scene investigation, and the examination of explosives, flammable liquids, and
vehicle lamp filaments. His professional involvement has included board of director positions
with the California Association of Criminalists, California Association of Crime Laboratory
Directors, American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors and the American Board of
Criminalistics, and membership in the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.
James McLaughlin, Chief
Planning and Analysis Division, California Highway Patrol (CHP)
James McLaughlin is a 29-year member of the CHP and is presently assigned as Chief of the
Planning and Analysis Division (PAD). As the PAD commander, he serves as the Director for the
department’s traffic safety grant program. In addition, he serves on the California Council on
Criminal Justice and chairs the Enforcement Technology Advisory Technical Subcommittee for
the International Association of Chiefs of Police. He also oversees the California Motorcyclist
Safety Program.
Prior to his current assignment, he served as Assistant Commander of the department’s
Golden Gate Division in the San Francisco Bay Area. During his career he has served
as the commander of the CHP’s Napa and El Centro Area offices and the Sacramento
Communications Center. He has served as a Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST)
Advisory Committee member and as chair of the departmental Occupational Safety Board.
In 1980, he earned a B.S. degree in Economics from UC Davis and is a graduate of the FBI
National Academy.
Jennifer Mihalovich, Criminalist III
Criminalistics Laboratory, Oakland Police Department
Jennifer Mihalovich is currently the supervisor and the DNA Technical Lead of the Biology Unit
at the Oakland Police Department’s Criminalistics Laboratory. She obtained a B.S. degree in
Microbiology from the University of Montana and her Masters of Public Health in Forensic
Science from UC Berkeley. She has been a criminalist for more than 24 years, working in both
private and government laboratories.
Ms. Mihalovich holds an American Board of Criminalistics Diplomate certificate in General
Criminalistics and a Fellow certificate in Molecular Biology, and she is a qualified ASCLD/LAB
Assessor and an FBI DNA Quality Assurance Auditor. Her professional involvement has
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included board of director positions with the California Association of Criminalists and the
American Board of Criminalistics. She holds membership in the California Association of
Criminalists, the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, and the California Association of
Crime Laboratory Directors.
Steven Nash, Detective (Retired)
Marin County Sheriff’s Department
Steven Nash was a Deputy Sheriff with the Marin County Sheriff’s Department since 1979,
working in the Jail, Patrol and Crime Prevention, and Investigations Divisions. He graduated
from the Robert Presley Institute of Criminal Investigation with the specialty of Arson/
Explosive Investigation and was a field training officer for patrol personnel before transferring
to the Investigations Division in 1988. His prior experience includes work as a field evidence
technician and an assignment with the Crime Scene and Latent Print Section. He was an
instructor for the Marin County Sheriff’s Department, local law enforcement agencies, and
state and federal agencies in the area of crime scenes and development and comparison of
latent fingerprints.
Detective Nash was a past-president of the International Association for Identification; pastpresident of the California Division of the International Association for Identification; former
chair of the International Association for Identification Crime Scene Investigations; and former
chair of the Crime Scene Certification for the State Division of the International Association
for Identification. He is a certified member of the International Association of Identification
as a Senior Crime Scene Analyst, and he belongs to the Crime Scene Certification for the
International Association for Identification, the California Homicide Investigators Association,
and the California Robbery Investigators Association.
Jeff Rodzen, Ph.D., Senior Wildlife Forensic Specialist
Wildlife Forensics Laboratory, California Department of Fish and Game (DFG)
Jeff Rodzen is one of two Governor’s appointees to the California Crime Laboratory Review
Task Force. He has worked in the DFG Forensics Laboratory since completing graduate
studies at UC Davis in 2000. Prior to graduation, he was a student assistant at the California
Department of Justice’s Berkeley DNA Lab. Currently he performs the role of Director of DFG’s
Forensics Laboratory, which includes overseeing the lab’s daily operation as well as organizing
and conducting long-term forensic research projects and lab planning for DFG. Dr. Rodzen is
a full member of the California Association of Criminalists and the California Association of
Crime Laboratory Directors.
William C. Thompson, J.D., Ph.D., Professor
Department of Criminology, Law and Society, University of California, Irvine
William Thompson is the Chair of the Department of Criminology, Law and Society at UC
Irvine. He has been teaching at the university since 1983 and has written extensively about
forensic DNA evidence. His prior experience includes working as an attorney at the Law
Offices of Clark L. Deichler in Oakland and as a staff fellow for the President’s Commission
for the Study of Ethical Problems in Medicine and Biomedical and Behavioral Research in
Washington, D.C.
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Professor Thompson received his Ph.D. from Stanford University and his J.D. from Boalt
Hall School of Law, UC Berkeley. He is a member of the California Bar, American Academy
of Forensic Sciences, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, American Bar
Association, and American Psychology-Law Society.
Charlotte Wacker, Director
Body Donation Program, University of California, Davis
Charlotte Wacker is the Director of the UC Davis Body Donation Program, a position she has
held since 2005. From 2001 to 2005, she served as the Assistant Director of the program.
Ms. Wacker graduated from UC Davis in 2000 and obtained a Masters degree in Forensic
Science from the University of New Haven in 2003. In addition to her position at UC Davis,
Ms. Wacker is a Governor’s Appointee to the California Crime Laboratory Review Task Force,
serves on multiple committees regarding the use of human anatomical specimens, and is an
active member of the American Academy of Forensic Science and the American Association
of Clinical Anatomy.
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Appendix B
Penal Code Section 11062
California Codes
Penal Code Section 11062
11062. (a) The Department of Justice shall establish and chair a task force to conduct a
review of California’s crime laboratory system.
(b) The task force shall be known as the “Crime Laboratory Review Task Force.” The
composition of the task force shall, except as specified in paragraph (16), be comprised of
one representative of each of the following entities:
(1) The Department of Justice.
(2) The California Association of Crime Laboratory Directors.
(3) The California Association of Criminalists.
(4) The International Association for Identification.
(5) The American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors.
(6) The Department of the California Highway Patrol.
(7) The California State Sheriffs’ Association, from a department with a crime laboratory.
(8) The California District Attorneys Association, from an office with a crime laboratory.
(9) The California Police Chiefs Association, from a department with a crime laboratory.
(10) The California Peace Officers’ Association.
(11) The California Public Defenders Association.
(12) A private criminal defense attorney organization.
(13) The Judicial Council, to be appointed by the Chief Justice.
(14) The Office of the Speaker of the Assembly.
(15) The Office of the President pro Tempore of the Senate.
(16) Two representatives to be appointed by the Governor.
(c) The task force shall review and make recommendations as to how best to configure,
fund, and improve the delivery of state and local crime laboratory services in the future. To
the extent feasible, the review and recommendations shall include, but are not limited to,
addressing the following issues:
(1) With respect to organization and management of crime laboratory services,
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consideration of the following:
(A) If the existing mix of state and local crime laboratories is the most effective and efficient
means to meet California’s future needs.
(B) Whether laboratories should be further consolidated. If consolidation occurs, who
should have oversight of crime laboratories.
(C) If management responsibilities for some laboratories should be transferred.
(D) Whether all laboratories should provide similar services.
(E) How other states have addressed similar issues.
(2) With respect to staff and training, consideration of the following:
(A) How to address recruiting and retention problems of laboratory staff.
(B) Whether educational and training opportunities are adequate to supply the needs of
fully trained forensic criminalists in the future.
(C) Whether continuing education is available to ensure that forensic science personnel are
up-to-date in their fields of expertise.
(D) If crime laboratory personnel should be certified, and, if so, the appropriate agency to
assume this responsibility.
(E) The future educational role, if any, for the University of California or the California State
University.
(3) With respect to funding, consideration of the following:
(A) Whether the current method of funding laboratories is predictable, stable, and adequate
to meet future growth demands and to provide accurate and timely testing results.
(B) The adequacy of salary structures to attract and retain competent analysts and examiners.
(4) With respect to performance standards and equipment, consideration of the following:
(A) Whether workload demands are being prioritized properly and whether there are
important workload issues not being addressed.
(B) If existing laboratories have the necessary capabilities, staffing, and equipment.
(C) If statewide standards should be developed for the accreditation of forensic laboratories,
including minimum staffing levels, and if so, a determination regarding what entity should
serve as the sanctioning body.
(d) The task force also shall seek input from specialized law enforcement disciplines, other
state and local agencies, relevant advocacy groups, and the public. The final report also
shall include a complete inventory of existing California crime laboratories. This inventory
shall contain sufficient details on staffing, workload, budget, major instrumentation, and
organizational placement within the controlling agency.
(e) The first meeting of the task force shall occur no later than December 9, 2007.
(f) On or before July 1, 2009, the task force shall submit a final report of its findings to the
Department of Finance and to the budget and public safety committees of both houses of the
Legislature.
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Appendix C
2008 CALIFORNIA CRIME LABORATORY INVENTORY & SURVEY
Pursuant to California Penal Code section 11062, the California Crime Laboratory Review
Task Force is conducting a statewide survey and inventory of public law enforcement crime
laboratories. In order to meet its statutory mandate, the Task Force respectfully requests that
the following information be provided and the survey returned within 60 days of receipt. All
questions, unless otherwise noted, relate to the current status of the laboratory.
Please also attach a copy of your laboratory’s most recent final ASCLD/LAB five-year
inspection report. This document will assist the Task Force by providing an external
perspective of your laboratory’s operations. Note that this document will become accessible
to the public once it is received.
Thank you very much for your assistance.
If you have any questions about the survey, please contact Barry Fisher, Crime Laboratory
Director, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, at (323) 260-8502, or by e-mail at
[email protected]
______________________________________________________________________
Glossary of Terms and Phrases Used in This Survey
“Case request”
“Turnaround
time”
A discipline-specific request for testing or analysis of one or more evidence
item(s) in a particular investigation
The time from the submission of a request to the laboratory to the
transmission of the report to the client agency
Your name and contact information:
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
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GENERAL INFORMATION
1. Name of Laboratory: ______________________________________________________
2. Name of parent agency or organization: _______________________________________
3. Organizational placement within controlling agency: ______________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
4. Size of jurisdiction served: ___________________________________________________
5. Do any other public crime laboratories routinely provide service to this jurisdiction?
YES
NO
If “YES”, please explain briefly:____________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
6. Please list the law enforcement agencies your laboratory serves:
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
7. What type of management information system does your laboratory use?
Fully computerized, networked (i.e., can interface with requesting agencies) system
Fully computerized, non-networked system
Partially computerized system, some manual record-keeping
Manual record-keeping system
Other (describe)_________________________________________________
Does your information management system track personnel time usage?
YES
NO
8. Is your laboratory accredited?
Yes, by the ASCLD/LAB. Year of first accreditation: _________________________
Yes, by (specify) _____________________________________________________
Please choose one, if applicable:
Legacy
ISO
Not accredited
If your laboratory is NOT accredited, please answer questions 9-13. Otherwise,
proceed to Question 14.
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9. Does your laboratory maintain Standard Operating Procedures (“SOP”) manuals for every
discipline in which services are provided?
YES
NO
If “NO”, list those disciplines for which SOP manuals are not maintained: _____________
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
10. Does your laboratory maintain a Quality Assurance manual(s) that addresses every
discipline in which services are provided?
YES
NO
If “NO”, list those disciplines for which QA manuals are not maintained: ______________
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
11. Does your laboratory maintain quality assurance documents:
in individual case files
collectively in a centralized location
both
Do quality assurance documents include unexpected results?
YES
NO
N/A
List any disciplines for which such materials are not maintained, and explain:
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
12. List all disciplines in which your laboratory has ever conducted an internal validation
study: _____________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
13. Does your laboratory include a quality assurance unit/section?
If “YES”:
YES
NO
How many FTE employees work in that unit? ________________
What are their responsibilities?_________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
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14. Does your laboratory support individual criminalist certification? (mark all that apply)
Yes, by paying for examination sitting fees.
Yes, by paying recertification fees.
Yes, by providing on-duty study time.
Yes, by offering pay or promotional credits for becoming certified.
Yes, by (specify) _____________________________________________________
List acceptable certifying organizations:___________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
No
15. Please complete the following chart:
Discipline
Number of Analysts
Certified
(Attach additional page(s) as needed.)
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Name of Certifying Body
FACILITIES & EQUIPMENT
16. Current crime lab space (square feet):
__________________________________________________________________________
17. Are your current physical facilities adequate for current needs?
For anticipated future needs?
YES
YES
NO
NO
18. Has your agency conducted a facility needs assessment?
YES
NO
19. If yes, what is the recommendation of square footage for your facility?
______________________________________________________________________
20. In the table below, please list major instrumentation (including software) used in
your laboratory, broken down by discipline. Include quantity. “Major instrumentation”
means equipment critical to scientific results achieved, and costing $5,000 or more.
Where available, indicate approximate age of item.
Discipline
Major Instrumentation
(Additional space on next page.)
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Discipline
Major Instrumentation
(Please attach additional page(s) as needed.)
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106
BUDGET
21. What was your laboratory’s FY 2006/2007 annual budget? _____________________
22. What is your laboratory’s FY 2007/2008 annual budget? _____________________
23. If applicable, what was/is your budget for each fiscal year listed below? (Indicate “N/A”
where no budget exists.)
FY 2006/2007
Personnel Budget
$
Operating Budget
$
Facilities Budget
$
Training Budget
$
Equipment Budget
$
Supply Budget
$
FY 2007/2008
Personnel Budget
$
Operating Budget
$
Facilities Budget
$
Training Budget
$
Equipment Budget
$
Supply Budget
$
24. If available, please provide the following actual expenses:
FY 2006/2007
Personnel Costs
$
Operating Costs
$
Facilities Costs
$
Training Costs
$
Equipment Costs
$
Supply Costs
$
FY 2007/2008 to date (specify: ___/08)
Personnel Costs
$
Operating Costs
$
Facilities Cost
$
Training Costs
$
Equipment Costs
$
Supply Costs
$
25. Please list FY 2006/2007 grant funding in the following table:
Name of Grant
Source
Discipline
Amount
(Attach additional page(s) as needed.)
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26. Please list FY 2007/2008 (to date) grant funding in the following table:
Name of Grant
Source
Discipline
Amount
(Attach additional page(s) as needed.)
STAFFING
27. Please attach an organization chart for your laboratory. Names need not be included.
28. How many FTE (full-time equivalent) positions were authorized at your laboratory as of
December 31, 2007? Please account for all types of employees, and round to the nearest
tenth. _____________________________________________________________________
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29. Please complete the following chart for technical and managerial staff only:
Job Title
Salary
Range
Number of FTE
Employees
Allocated as of
12/31/07
Number of FTE
Employees
Actually Working
as of 12/31/07
Minimum
Educational
Requirement
30. Of your laboratory’s technical and management staff, please indicate how many possess
the following as their highest-level degree:
________ B.A. or B.S.
________ Masters
________ Ph.D.
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31. Please list the number of direct report employees per manager/supervisor, broken down
by discipline:
Discipline:_________________
Discipline:_________________
Discipline:_________________
Discipline:_________________
Discipline:_________________
Discipline:_________________
Discipline:_________________
Discipline:_________________
Discipline:_________________
Discipline:_________________
Discipline:_________________
Discipline:_________________
Discipline:_________________
Discipline:_________________
(attach additional page(s) as needed)
Direct reports per manager/supervisor:___________
Direct reports per manager/supervisor:___________
Direct reports per manager/supervisor:___________
Direct reports per manager/supervisor:___________
Direct reports per manager/supervisor:___________
Direct reports per manager/supervisor:___________
Direct reports per manager/supervisor:___________
Direct reports per manager/supervisor:___________
Direct reports per manager/supervisor:___________
Direct reports per manager/supervisor:___________
Direct reports per manager/supervisor:___________
Direct reports per manager/supervisor:___________
Direct reports per manager/supervisor:___________
Direct reports per manager/supervisor:___________
32. How many supervisors also do casework regularly?
_____ out of _____
33. What factor(s) have a significant effect on the ability of your laboratory’s technical staff to
meet its workload (e.g., law enforcement expectations [be specific]; time spent in court;
discovery responses/litigation). Please quantify where possible:
_________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
34. Does your laboratory have an active recruitment process?
YES
NO
35. Does your laboratory’s technical staff hiring process include:
written exam
oral exam (How many? ________)
background investigation
polygraph exam
36. Does your laboratory offer internship opportunities?
YES
NO
If “YES”, please describe briefly:_____________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
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37. Describe any recruitment and/or retention problems recently experienced, citing specific
factors: ____________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
38. Describe any mandatory continuing education protocols your laboratory’s technical staff
must observe:____________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
39. Are adequate training opportunities available to your technical staff?
YES
NO
Describe training opportunities, both in-house and external: _______________________
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
40. Describe any perceived deficiencies in the education and training of entry-level technical
staff, both pre-employment and post-employment:
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
41. Describe any notable opportunities or deficiencies in the continuing education/training of
your technical staff: __________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
42. What is your laboratory protocol for the monitoring of staff courtroom testimony?
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________
43. How often, on average, is each analyst monitored by a supervisor or a technical peer in a
year? ______________________
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44. Describe the support staff structure in your laboratory, broken down by function (e.g., IT,
evidence custodian(s), quality control manager(s)):__________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
45. Describe additional support staff needs: ___________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
SERVICES PROVIDED
46. Please complete the tables on the following pages. Indicate “Not Provided” where
applicable:
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112
113
Other Trace
Evidence
Questioned
Documents
Toxicology (antemortem)
Foot / tire
Impressions
Latent Prints
Hairs
Firearms / Tool
Marks
Gunshot Residue
Fire Debris
Computer / Digital
Crime
Controlled
Substances
Crime Scene
Processing
Crime Scene
Reconstr.
Fibers
Clandestine labs
CALID
Biology / Serology
Explosives
Alcohol – Bl. & Br.
Discipline
Case requests in
2007
Case requests completed
in 2007
13
Average # hours
per case
Actual turnaround
time
Number of court
appearances in 2007
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Case requests
in 2007
NO
NO
NO
Actual
turnaround time
YES
YES
YES
Average # hours
per case
LCN DNA Analysis
SNP DNA Analysis
MiniFiler DNA Analysis
Case requests
completed in 2007
Number of court
appearances in 2007
14
48. Describe any special or innovative programs in your laboratory (e.g., “fast-track” cases, research/development, etc.):
_________________________________________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________________________________________
47. Does your laboratory perform the following:
Review / QC of outsourced DNA
profiles to enable CODIS upload
CODIS off’der samples
(DOJ only)
mtDNA
DNA: Y-STRs
DNA: STRs
Other (specify)
Other (specify)
Other (specify)
Discipline
49. Please complete the following table. “Backlog” can be defined as the number of
unreported case requests in the laboratory that have exceeded the service goal
turnaround time. If you use a different definition, please explain:
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
Discipline
Service Goal (explain if
necessary)
Backlog as of
12/31/06
Backlog as of
12/31/07
Alcohol – Bl. & Br.
Explosives
Biology / Serology
CALID
Clandestine labs
Computer / Digital Crime
Controlled Substances
Crime Scene Processing
Crime Scene Reconstr.
Fibers
Fire Debris
Firearms / Tool Marks
Gunshot Residue
Hairs
Foot / tire Impressions
Latent Prints
Other Trace Evidence
Questioned Documents
Toxicology (antemortem)
(Continued on next page.)
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115
Discipline
Service Goal (explain if
necessary)
Backlog as of
12/31/06
Backlog as of
12/31/07
Other (specify)
Other (specify)
Other (specify)
DNA: STRs
DNA: Y-STRs
mtDNA
CODIS offender samples
DOJ only)
50. If your laboratory provides DNA testing services, do you have a policy or an
agreement with client agencies relating to the number of evidence items per case
that will be tested?
YES
NO
If YES, please describe: _______________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
Provide any further thoughts related to this topic, including the number of items
typically submitted for testing in DNA cases: _______________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
51. What types of services not performed by your laboratory are commonly requested?
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
52. Does your laboratory outsource services?
YES
NO
53. If YES, in what disciplines, and under what circumstances, does outsourcing occur?
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
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54. Describe the effectiveness and sustainability of your outsourcing policy:
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
55. Describe the anticipated effectiveness of your outsourcing policy in the long term:
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
56. Describe limitations, if any, imposed by your laboratory on the type of crime(s) from
which evidence can be submitted: _______________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
57. Describe your laboratory’s policy, if any, regarding services rendered (e.g., analysis,
consultation) on behalf of criminal defendants: ________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
58. Does your laboratory have a formal policy permitting defense experts to observe
testing in your facilities under defined circumstances?
YES
NO
If “YES”, please describe: ______________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
59. Does your laboratory have a formal policy permitting defense experts to use its
facilities to conduct independent examinations and/or testing under defined
circumstances?
YES
NO
If “YES”, please describe: ______________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
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60. What operational changes, if any, have you implemented to meet increasing
demands/reduced resources? __________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
61. Describe any limitations that have been placed on your laboratory’s casework
capacity, and resulting impact(s), if any, in your jurisdiction: ______________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
62. Do you think that regionalization or other inter-laboratory consolidation of forensic
science services should be pursued by policymakers? Why and how, or why not?
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
LABORATORY NEEDS
63. How would you prioritize the following needs for your lab? (If you acquired a onetime windfall in your budget, how would it be used?) Rank these from 1 (high) to 8
(low). There should be only one “1” one “2” etc.
Current Needs
System for overall laboratory information management
Computerized system for tracking evidence
Additional staff (technical)
Training on available technology or technology being acquired
Additional laboratory space
Continuing education and/or in-service training on new
technologies or new developments in the field
Equipment (specify below)
Other (specify below)
Prioritize (1-8)
____________
____________
____________
____________
____________
____________
____________
____________
64. Equipment needs:____________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
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65. Other needs:________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
66. What are the laboratory’s major training needs, if any? _______________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
THANK YOU
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120
Appendix D
121
122
123
124
125
126
Appendix E
CALIFORNIA CRIME LABORATORY REVIEW TASK FORCE
2008 ATTORNEY SURVEY
Pursuant to California Penal Code section 11062, the California Crime
Laboratory Review Task Force is conducting a statewide study of public law
enforcement crime laboratories. In order to meet its statutory mandate, the Task
Force respectfully requests that the following information be provided and the
survey returned within 30 days of receipt. Thank you for your assistance.
This survey is directed to District Attorneys, Public Defenders and defense
organizations, prosecuting City Attorneys, and City Attorneys and County
Counsel in jurisdictions which fund a Crime Laboratory. Please respond only to
those questions applicable to your office’s use of or contact with state, county, or
local crime laboratories.
If you have any questions about the survey, please contact Dane Gillette, Chief
Assistant Attorney General, California Department of Justice, at (415) 703-5866,
or by e-mail at [email protected]
Your name, title, and contact information:
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
1
127
1. In 2007, how many felony cases did your office handle?
______________________
[If your office records are kept on a fiscal year basis, please provide the
requested data for FY 2006-2007 in this and all similarly worded questions
instead.]
2. Approximately what percentage of those felony cases involved forensic
science testing of any kind? _________________
3. What percentage of felony cases filed in 2007, involving laboratory analysis,
went to trial? ____________
4. In 2007, how many misdemeanor cases did your office handle?
5. Approximately what percentage of those misdemeanor cases involved forensic
science testing of any kind? _________________
6. What percentage of misdemeanor cases filed in 2007, involving laboratory
analysis, went to trial? _________
7. For each of the following types of laboratories, please indicate the approximate
percentage of use in your 2007 felony caseload, and identify the laboratories in
that category used by your office:
Type of Laboratory
Laboratory Names
a. CA State (DOJ) lab(s) _________% __________________________
__________________________
__________________________
__________________________
b. DA lab
_________% __________________________
c. Sheriff lab
_________% __________________________
d. Police lab(s)
_________% __________________________
__________________________
__________________________
__________________________
e. Private lab(s)
f. Other
_________% __________________________
__________________________
__________________________
__________________________
_________% __________________________
__________________________
__________________________
__________________________
2
128
8. For each of the following types of laboratories, please indicate the approximate
percentage of use in your 2007 misdemeanor caseload, and identify laboratory:
Type of Laboratory
Laboratory Names
a. CA State (DOJ) lab(s) _________% __________________________
__________________________
__________________________
__________________________
b. DA lab
_________% __________________________
c. Sheriff lab
_________% __________________________
d. Police lab(s)
_________% __________________________
__________________________
__________________________
__________________________
e. Private lab(s)
f. Other
_________% __________________________
__________________________
__________________________
__________________________
_________% __________________________
__________________________
__________________________
__________________________
9. How much money did your office spend on forensic science testing in 2007?
$ _____________
10. If your office regularly hires private laboratories to provide forensic science
services, check all reasons that apply:
a. To obtain faster turn-around times
______
b. To access better equipment or skill in specific areas
______
c. Gov’t lab lacks capability to conduct particular test(s)
______
d. Other (please describe)
______
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
11. Describe any particular forensic science test(s) characterized by frequent and
problematic delays in receiving results: _________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
3
129
12. For each laboratory with which your office has significant experience, please
check the following categories based on the collective and generalized
experience of your office. Please print out additional copies of this page as
needed:
Name of Laboratory: __________________________________
Laboratory
function
A.
B.
C.
D.
E.
F.
G.
H.
I.
J.
K.
L.
Significant
or frequent
issues
causing
concern
Occasional
issues
Generally
causing
satisfactory
concern
Exemplary
Comments
Evidence
collection at
crime scene
Chain of
evidence
issues
Evidence
preservation
Testing
methods
available
Laboratory
staff
expertise
Laboratory
equipment
Timeliness
of results
Presentation
of results in
court
Objectivity
of lab staff
Discovery
issues
Access to
expert
witnesses
Other
(define)
Additional Comments:
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
4
130
13. For each laboratory with which your office has significant experience, please
rate the analysts in the following areas, based on the collective and generalized
experience of your office. Please print out additional copies of this page as
needed:
Name of Laboratory: __________________________________
Never
1
A.
Competent
B.
Honest / Credible
C.
Objective / unbiased
D.
Forthcoming about
problems
Sometimes
2
3
4
Always
5
6
7
Additional Comments:
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
5
131
For each laboratory with which your office has significant experience, please
answer questions 14-20. Please print out additional copies of this page as
needed:
Name of Laboratory: __________________________________
14. Are analysts from the laboratory willing to meet privately with attorneys from
your office to explain their work (on a case the attorney is handling)?
Always ____
Usually ____
Rarely ____
Never ____
15. Are analysts from the laboratory willing to speak to attorneys from your office
by telephone in order to answer questions about cases the attorneys are
handling?
Always ____
Usually ____
Rarely ____
Never ____
16. Is there a laboratory policy that either encourages or prohibits direct
consultation between lawyers in your office and laboratory analysts?
Yes _____
No _____
If “Yes,” please explain:________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
17. Have attorneys from your office had difficulty obtaining information from the
laboratory about work the laboratory performed on a case they are handling?
Yes _____ No _____
If “Yes,” please explain: _____________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
18. Are the reports produced by the lab clear and easy to understand?
Always ____
Sometimes ____
Never _____
19. Do the reports include sufficient information about what was examined or
tested and what the results were?
Always ____
Sometimes ____
Never _____
20. When charges have been filed against a defendant and your office is
prosecuting or defending, does the attorney involved routinely receive notice
before the laboratory performs tests that will consume or destroy evidentiary
samples?
Always ____
Sometimes ____
Never _____
6
132
21. For each laboratory with which your office has significant experience, please
describe document disclosure practices by checking the applicable box in the
following chart. (Again, based on the collective and generalized experience of
your office.) Please print out additional copies of this page as needed:
Name of Laboratory: __________________________________
Routinely
disclosed in all
cases
Disclosed if
requested
Disclosed only if
ordered by court
Laboratory reports
Analysts’
notes/bench notes
Copies of
photographic
documentation
Electronic files/data
in DNA cases
Proficiency test
results
Proficiency test files
(bench notes)
Protocols or
Standard operating
procedures
Unexpected Results
and/or corrective
action files
Audit Reports
Quality Control /
Quality Assurance
documents
Validation studies
CV of laboratory
analyst
Personnel file of
laboratory analyst
Additional comments: _______________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
7
133
22. Describe the extent (if any) to which your office would seek forensic science
testing in additional cases, or additional forensic science testing in cases where
testing already occurs, if you had no budgetary restrictions. Please reference
specific disciplines in your discussion (e.g., DNA, narcotics, toxicology, trace
evidence, handwriting, fingerprints, firearms, tool marks, bite marks, etc.):
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
23. What measures could be taken to improve the delivery of forensic science
services in your jurisdiction? _________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
24. Describe the extent to which your office seeks additional forensic science
testing in cases beyond that independently sought by the investigating agency.
Reference specific forensic disciplines where possible:
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
25. Does your office have specialized training in forensic science?
Yes ____
No ____
If “Yes,” please describe: ______________________________________
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
26. Does your office employ lawyers who have been specially trained to complex
forensic science issues?
Yes ____ No ____
If “Yes,” please provide explain: _________________________________
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
8
134
Questions 27-29 are for prosecutors only.
27. Describe procedures taken by your office to obtain, store, and disseminate
“Brady” material from forensic science laboratories:
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
28. Under what circumstances do you disclose to defense counsel information
and documentation concerning errors and mistakes at forensic science
laboratories? _____________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
29. Does your office participate in training forensic science laboratory personnel
on “Brady” or other discovery obligations? � Yes � No
If “Yes,” please explain:
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
Questions 30-31 are for City Attorneys and County Counsel only.
30. Does your office represent a forensic science laboratory in legal challenges
to production of laboratory documents and materials? � Yes � No
If “Yes,” please identify the laboratory or laboratories: _____________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
If “Yes,” please describe the representation provided and approximate number of
cases:___________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
31. Does your office participate in training forensic science laboratory personnel
on “Brady” or other discovery obligations? � Yes � No
If “Yes,” please explain:
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
9
135 Questions 32- 37 are for criminal defense counsel only.
32. Do you believe that you are provided sufficient funding to hire experts to help
you evaluate scientific evidence being offered by the prosecution?
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
33. Do you believe that there are a sufficient number of qualified experts who are
available to evaluate scientific evidence being offered by the prosecution?
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________
34. Do you believe that you have available to you sufficient training in order to
effectively represent clients whose prosecutions are based in whole or in part on
scientific evidence?
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
35. Under what circumstances, if any, are experts retained by the defense
allowed to observe or monitor the work of the crime laboratory?
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
36. Under what circumstances, if any, are experts retained by the defense
allowed to use laboratory facilities or equipment to examine evidence?
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
37. Does your office participate in training forensic science laboratory personnel
on “Brady” or other discovery obligations? � Yes � No
If “Yes,” please explain:
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
THANK YOU
10
136
Appendix F
Supplemental Survey Questions (laboratories only)
(1) Please complete the following chart:
DATE:
_
NAME OF LABORATORY:
_
NAME OF LAB DIRECTOR:
_
CONTACT INFORMATION:
_
Core
Forensic
Discipline
Number of
Full Time
Criminalist
Positions
Average
Case*
Turnaround
Time
Ideal Case
Turnaround
Time
Factors Impeding Faster
Turnaround
Alcohol
(blood &
breath)
Forensic
Biology /
DNA
Controlled
Substances
Firearms /
Toolmarks
Latent
Prints
* “Case” = one investigation submitted under a law enforcement agency case number; could
include multiple evidence items for analysis.
137
(2) Please describe any personnel incentives offered by your laboratory, such as job-sharing
and flexible work-week options: _____________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________________
(3) If your laboratory offers any other special programs designed to encourage retention
(e.g., “PIP” compensated time for independent research project), please describe below:
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
Please send completed survey to:
Colleen Higgins
California Department of Justice
[email protected]
138
Appendix G
List of Meeting Presentations
California Crime Laboratory Review Task Force
Peter Barnett, Forensic Science Associates
• Presentedoncriminalistethics
Frank Dolejsi, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Forensic Science Laboratory
• PresentedanoverviewoftheASCLD/LAB’snewISOstandardsandprocess
Keith Inman and Pat Zajac, CSU East Bay
• DiscussedthebachelorsofscienceforensicscienceprogramatCSUEastBay
Steve Lee, Professor at San Jose State University
• Unabletoattend,butsubmittedawrittensummaryofhiscomments
Kevin Miller, Professor at CSU Fresno
• DiscussedtheprofessionalsciencemastersdegreeprogramatCSUFresno
Jennifer Mnookin, Professor at the UCLA School of Law
• Spokeaboutthenotablelackofforensicsciencetrainingatlawschools
Gabriel Oberfield, Research Analyst, Innocence Project
Rose Ochi and Harley Sagara, California Forensic Science Institute at CSU Los Angeles
• PresentedadescriptionoftheirInstitute’scontributiontoforensicscienceeducation
Joseph Peterson, Director of Criminal Justice and Criminalistics at CSU Los Angeles
• Presentedhisfindingsregardingthenational2002BureauofJusticeStatisticscrime
lab survey
Bill Phillips, California Department of Justice
• OfferedabriefdescriptionoftheCaliforniaCriminalisticsInstitute
Kathy Roberts, Professor of CSU Los Angeles’ Criminalistics Department
• Presentedadescriptionofherschool’sundergraduateandgraduateprograms
139
Norah Rudin, member of Virginia’s Scientific Advisory Committee
• GavebriefoverviewofherroleasmemberofAdvisoryCommittee
Barry Scheck, Cardozo School of Law and the Innocence Project
• GaveaninformativepresentationabouthisexperiencewiththeNewYork
Commission on Forensic Science
Jan Scully, Sacramento District Attorney
• SpoketotheTaskForceaboutplacementofcrimelaboratorieswithindistrict
attorneys’ offices
Jill Spriggs, California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Forensic Services Bureau Chief
• Spokeaboutfee-for-serviceconsiderations
Fred Tulleners, UC Davis Forensic Science Graduate Program
• Spokeabouthisschool’sofferingsinforensicsciencetrainingandeducation
Beatrice Yorker, Dean of the CSU Los Angeles College of Health and Human Services
• SpokeabouttheCSULosAngelesprograminforensicnursingandotherrelated
course offerings
Crime Labs Toured
• Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center, CSU Los Angeles
• OrangeCountySheriff-CoronerDepartment–OCCrimeLab
• SacramentoCountyDistrictAttorney–LaboratoryofForensicServices
• CaliforniaDepartmentofJustice,BureauofForensicServices,JanBashinskiDNA
Laboratory, Richmond
• SantaClaraCountyDistrictAttorney’sOffice–LaboratoryofCriminalistics
140
Appendix H
Recommendations
from
Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward
2009 National Academy of Sciences Report
Recommendation 1
To promote the development of forensic science into a mature field of multidisciplinary
research and practice, founded on the systematic collection and analysis of relevant data,
Congress should establish and appropriate funds for an independent federal entity, the
National Institute of Forensic Science (NIFS). NIFS should have a full-time administrator
and an advisory board with expertise in research and education, the forensic science
disciplines, physical and life sciences, forensic pathology, engineering, information
technology, measurements and standards, testing and evaluation, law, national security, and
public policy. NIFS should focus on:
a) Establishing and enforcing best practices for forensic science professionals and
laboratories;
b) Establishing standards for the mandatory accreditation of forensic science laboratories
and the mandatory certification of forensic scientists and medical examiners/forensic
pathologists—and identifying the entity/entities that will develop and implement
accreditation and certification;
c) Promoting scholarly, competitive peer-reviewed research and technical development in
the forensic science disciplines and forensic medicine;
d) Developing a strategy to improve forensic science research and educational programs,
including forensic pathology;
e) Establishing a strategy, based on accurate data on the forensic science community,
for the efficient allocation of available funds to give strong support to forensic
methodologies and practices in addition to DNA analysis;
f) Funding state and local forensic science agencies, independent research projects,
and educational programs as recommended in this report, with conditions that aim to
advance the credibility and reliability of the forensic science disciplines;
g) Overseeing education standards and the accreditation of forensic science programs in
colleges and universities;
h) Developing programs to improve understanding of the forensic science disciplines and
their limitations within legal systems; and
i) Assessing the development and introduction of new technologies in forensic
investigations, including a comparison of new technologies with former ones.
141
Recommendation 2
NIFS, after reviewing established standards such as the International Organization for
Standardization (ISO) 17025, and in consultation with its advisory board, should establish
standard terminology to be used in reporting on and testifying about the results of forensic
science investigations. Similarly, it should establish model laboratory reports for different
forensic science disciplines and specify the minimum information that should be included.
As part of the accreditation and certification processes, laboratories and forensic scientists
should be required to utilize model laboratory reports when summarizing the results of their
analyses.
Recommendation 3
Research is needed to address issues of accuracy, reliability, and validity in the forensic
science disciplines. NIFS should competitively fund peer-reviewed research in the
following areas:
a) Studies establishing the scientific bases demonstrating the validity of forensic methods.
b) The development and establishment of quantifiable measures of the reliability and
accuracy of forensic analyses. Studies of the reliability and accuracy of forensic
techniques should reflect actual practice on realistic case scenarios, averaged across
a representative sample of forensic scientists and laboratories. Studies also should
establish the limits of reliability and accuracy that analytic methods can be expected to
achieve as the conditions of forensic evidence vary. The research by which measures
of reliability and accuracy are determined should be peer reviewed and published in
respected scientific journals.
c) The development of quantifiable measures of uncertainty in the conclusions of forensic
analyses.
d) Automated techniques capable of enhancing forensic technologies.
Recommendation 4
To improve the scientific bases of forensic science examinations and to maximize
independence from or autonomy within the law enforcement community, Congress
should authorize and appropriate incentive funds to NIFS for allocation to state and local
jurisdictions for the purpose of removing all public forensic laboratories and facilities from
the administrative control of law enforcement agencies or prosecutors’ offices.
Recommendation 5
NIFS should encourage research programs on human observer bias and sources of human
error in forensic examinations. Such programs might include studies to determine the
effects of contextual bias in forensic practice (e.g., studies to determine whether and to
what extent the results of forensic analyses are influenced by knowledge regarding the
background of the suspect and the investigator’s theory of the case). In addition, research
on sources of human error should be closely linked with research conducted to quantify and
142
characterize the amount of error. Based on the results of these studies, and in consultation
with its advisory board, NIFS should develop standard operating procedures (that will lay
the foundation for model protocols) to minimize, to the greatest extent reasonably possible,
potential bias and sources of human error in forensic practice. These standard operating
procedures should apply to all forensic analyses that may be used in litigation.
Recommendation 6
To facilitate the work of NIFS, Congress should authorize and appropriate funds to NIFS
to work with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), in conjunction
with government laboratories, universities, and private laboratories, and in consultation
with Scientific Working Groups, to develop tools for advancing measurement, validation,
reliability, information sharing, and proficiency testing in forensic science and to establish
protocols for forensic examinations, methods, and practices. Standards should reflect best
practices and serve as accreditation tools for laboratories and as guides for the education,
training, and certification of professionals. Upon completion of its work, NIST and its
partners should report findings and recommendations to NIFS for further dissemination and
implementation.
Recommendation 7
Laboratory accreditation and individual certification of forensic science professionals
should be mandatory, and all forensic science professionals should have access to
a certification process. In determining appropriate standards for accreditation and
certification, NIFS should take into account established and recognized international
standards, such as those published by the ISO. No person (public or private) should
be allowed to practice in a forensic science discipline or testify as a forensic science
professional without certification. Certification requirements should include, at a minimum,
written examinations, supervised practice, proficiency testing, continuing education,
recertification procedures, adherence to a code of ethics, and effective disciplinary
procedures. All laboratories and facilities (public or private) should be accredited, and
all forensic science professionals should be certified, when eligible, within a time period
established by NIFS.
Recommendation 8
Forensic laboratories should establish routine quality assurance and quality control
procedures to ensure the accuracy of forensic analyses and the work of forensic
practitioners. Quality control procedures should be designed to identify mistakes, fraud,
and bias; confirm the continued validity and reliability of standard operating procedures
and protocols; ensure that best practices are being followed; and correct procedures and
protocols that are found to need improvement.
143
Recommendation 9
NIFS, in consultation with its advisory board, should establish a national code of ethics
for all forensic science disciplines and encourage individual societies to incorporate this
national code as part of their professional code of ethics. Additionally, NIFS should explore
mechanisms of enforcement for those forensic scientists who commit serious ethical
violations. Such a code could be enforced through a certification process for forensic
scientists.
Recommendation 10
To attract students in the physical and life sciences to pursue graduate studies in
multidisciplinary fields critical to forensic science practice, Congress should authorize
and appropriate funds to NIFS to work with appropriate organizations and educational
institutions to improve and develop graduate education programs designed to cut across
organizational, programmatic, and disciplinary boundaries. To make these programs
appealing to potential students, they must include attractive scholarship and fellowship
offerings. Emphasis should be placed on developing and improving research methods and
methodologies applicable to forensic science practice and on funding research programs to
attract research universities and students in fields relevant to forensic science. NIFS should
also support law school administrators and judicial education organizations in establishing
continuing legal education programs for law students, practitioners, and judges.
Recommendation 11
To improve medicolegal death investigation:
a) Congress should authorize and appropriate incentive funds to NIFS for allocation
to states and jurisdictions to establish medical examiner systems, with the goal of
replacing and eventually eliminating existing coroner systems. Funds are needed
to build regional medical examiner offices, secure necessary equipment, improve
administration, and ensure the education, training, and staffing of medical examiner
offices. Funding could also be used to help current medical examiner systems
modernize their facilities to meet current Centers for Disease Control and Preventionrecommended autopsy safety requirements.
b) Congress should appropriate resources to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and
NIFS, jointly, to support research, education, and training in forensic pathology. NIH,
with NIFS participation, or NIFS in collaboration with content experts, should establish
a study section to establish goals, to review and evaluate proposals in these areas, and
to allocate funding for collaborative research to be conducted by medical examiner
offices and medical universities. In addition, funding, in the form of medical student
loan forgiveness and/or fellowship support, should be made available to pathology
residents who choose forensic pathology as their specialty.
144
c) NIFS, in collaboration with NIH, the National Association of Medical Examiners, the
American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators, and other appropriate professional
organizations, should establish a Scientific Working Group (SWG) for forensic
pathology and medicolegal death investigation. The SWG should develop and promote
standards for best practices, administration, staffing, education, training, and continuing
education for competent death scene investigation and postmortem examinations. Best
practices should include the utilization of new technologies such as laboratory testing
for the molecular basis of diseases and the implementation of specialized imaging
techniques.
d) All medical examiner offices should be accredited pursuant to NIFS-endorsed standards
within a timeframe to be established by NIFS.
e) All federal funding should be restricted to accredited offices that meet NIFS-endorsed
standards or that demonstrate significant and measurable progress in achieving
accreditation within prescribed deadlines.
f) All medicolegal autopsies should be performed or supervised by a board certified
forensic pathologist. This requirement should take effect within a timeframe to be
established by NIFS, following consultation with governing state institutions.
Recommendation 12
Congress should authorize and appropriate funds for NIFS to launch a new broad-based
effort to achieve nationwide fingerprint data interoperability. To that end, NIFS should
convene a task force comprising relevant experts from the National Institute of Standards
and Technology and the major law enforcement agencies (including representatives from
the local, state, federal, and, perhaps, international levels) and industry, as appropriate, to
develop:
a) Standards for representing and communicating image and minutiae data among
Automated Fingerprint Identification Systems. Common data standards would facilitate
the sharing of fingerprint data among law enforcement agencies at the local, state,
federal, and even international levels, which could result in more solved crimes, fewer
wrongful identifications, and greater efficiency with respect to fingerprint searches; and
b) Baseline standards—to be used with computer algorithms—to map, record, and
recognize features in fingerprint images, and a research agenda for the continued
improvement, refinement, and characterization of the accuracy of these algorithms
(including quantification of error rates).
Recommendation 13
Congress should provide funding to NIFS to prepare, in conjunction with the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, forensic scientists
and crime scene investigators for their potential roles in managing and analyzing evidence
from events that affect homeland security, so that maximum evidentiary value is preserved
145
from these unusual circumstances and the safety of these personnel is guarded. This
preparation also should include planning and preparedness (to include exercises) for the
interoperability of local forensic personnel with federal counterterrorism organizations.
146
Criminalist III
Criminalist II
Criminalist I
JNS
LEXP-3
LEXP-2
Calif. Dept. of
Fish and Game
Laboratory
Name
LEXP-1
LEXP-2
JNS
Job
Description
LEXP-1
LEXP-1
LEXP-2
JNS
1
DNA Technical
Lead
SCW-10
Calif. Dept. of
Justice
3
Supervising
Criminalist
SCW-10
Job
Description
1
Director
3
Assistant Bureau
Chief
Senior Wildlife
Forensic Spec.
Wildlife Forensic
Spec. Range C
Wildlife Forensic
Spec. Range B
Wildlife Forensic
Spec. Range A
Position
Criminalist
Manager
Criminalist
Supervisor
Senior
Criminalist
Criminalist
Range C
Criminalist
Range B
Criminalist
Range A
Laboratory
Technician
8594-9476
1
CEA III Bureau
Chief
3476-4183
2817-3193
0
0
4633-5584
5196-6271
1
1
Monthly
Salary
3050-3706
4129-5353
4974-6451
No.
4
n/a
36
89
5458-7094
6163-7821
34
127
7483-8665
14
8401- 9264
Monthly
Salary
No.
5639-6787
6189-7431
6787-8183
7095-8624
7103-8637
8557-10436
Monthly
Salary
Position
1
8
5
No.
Position
Job
Description
Laboratory
Name
Alameda Co.
Sheriff's Office
Laboratory
Name
Eff. Date
July-08
July-08
July-08
July-08
July-08
July-08
July-08
July-08
Eff. Date
December08
December08
December08
December08
December08
December08
Eff. Date
PERS
PERS
PERS
PERS
Retirement
Type
PERS
SAFETY
SAFETY
SAFETY
SAFETY
SAFETY
SAFETY
SAFETY
Retirement
Type
MISC
MISC
MISC
MISC
MISC
MISC
Retirement
Type
2 at
55
2 at
55
2 at
55
2 at
55
%
5
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
%
6.9
6.9
6.9
6.9
6.9
6.9
%
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
SSI
Yes
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
SSI
YES
YES
YES
YES
YES
YES
SSI
B
B
On-Call
Type
A
B
B
B
A
A
D
D
On-Call
Type
A
A
A
A
A
A
On-Call
Type
A, B
A, B
O.T.
Comp
C, D
C, D
C, D
C, D
E
E
E
E
O.T.
Comp
C, D
C, D
C, D
C, D
O.T.
Comp
California Association of Criminalists
2008-2009 Salary Survey
A, B, C, I, J, L
A, B, C, E, I, J, L
Miscellaneous
Benefits
A, B, C, J, L
A, B, C, J, L
A, B, C, J, L
A, B, C, J, L
A, B, C, D, J, L
A, B, C, D, J, L
A, B, C, D*, J, L,
E*
A, B, C, D, E, J, L
Miscellaneous
Benefits
B, C100, H, J, L
B, C100, H, J, L
B, C100, H, J, L
B, C100, H, J, L
Miscellaneous
Benefits
A, B, C100, E, H,
J, L
A, B, C100, H, J,
L
Remarks
Remarks
Calif. Assoc. Professional
Scientists, Unit 10
Calif. Assoc. Professional
Scientists, Unit 10
Remarks
Calif. State Employees
Assoc. (CSEA)
CAUSE
CAUSE
Calif. Union of Safety
Employees (CAUSE)
Supervisorial
Management
Management
*Misc benefits D&E for 2
of the 3 Asst. Chiefs only
Management
SEIU
SEIU
SEIU
Service Employees
International Union
(SEIU)
Management
Management
Appendix I
147
148
Contra Costa
Co. Sheriff's
Office –
Forensic
Services Div.
Laboratory
Name
5688-6271
5683-6266
5479-6659
5097-6195
4589-5059
3897-4737
1
2
1
4
0
3
5
3
Sheriff’s Aide
Sheriff’s
Specialist
NEXP
NEXP
3
1
3813-4635
3325-3932
3018-3669
3386-3,733
3625-4407
6188-7522
4
10
7165-8709
6193-7717
7171-8934
5
8
7679-9334
1
2
7716-9613
6250-7597
6535-7943
8029-9760
8028-10002
9397-11707
Monthly
Salary
3
1
1
Lab Aide
Director of
Property
Services
Deputy Sheriff
Forensic
Supervisor
Forensic
Supervisor NonSworn
Deputy Sheriff
Criminalist III
Criminalist III
Non-Sworn
Deputy Sheriff
Criminalist II
Criminalist II
Non-Sworn
Deputy Sheriff
Criminalist I
Criminalist I
Non-Sworn
Lead Fingerprint
Examiner
Fingerprint
Examiner II
Fingerprint
Examiner I
Lead Fingerprint
Tech
Fingerprint Tech
II
Fingerprint Tech
I
Manager CIS
1
1
NEXP
NEXP
JNS/LEXP-2
JNS
NEXP
JNS/LEXP-2
JNS
NEXP
NEXP
JNS/LEXP-4
JNS/LEXP-4
JNS
JNS
SCW-50
SCW-50
MNGMT
MNGMT
MNGMT
Deputy Sheriff
Forensic
Manager
Forensic
Manager NonSworn
1
Sheriff’s Chief of
Forensics
MNGMT
MNGMT
No.
Position
Job
Description
SAFETY
3% @ 50
TIER 2% @
55
TIER 2% @
55
TIER 2% @
55
SAFETY
3% @ 50
TIER 2% @
55
SAFETY
3% @ 50
TIER 2% @
55
SAFETY
3% @ 50
TIER 2% @
55
SAFETY
3% @ 50
TIER 2% @
55
TIER 2% @
55
TIER 2% @
55
TIER 2% @
55
TIER 2% @
55
TIER 2% @
55
TIER 2% @
55
TIER 2% @
55
TIER 2% @
55
TIER 2% @
55
November08
November08
November08
November08
November08
November08
November08
November08
November08
November08
November08
November08
November08
November08
November08
November08
November08
November08
November08
November08
SAFETY
3% @ 50
Retirement
Type
November08
November08
Eff. Date
VARIES
VARIES
VARIES
VARIES
VARIES
VARIES
VARIES
VARIES
VARIES
VARIES
VARIES
VARIES
VARIES
VARIES
VARIES
VARIES
VARIES
VARIES
VARIES
VARIES
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
No
Yes
No
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
No
VARIESbased on yrs
of service
and age at
time of hire
VARIES
SSI
%
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
B
B
B
B
B
B
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
On-Call
Type
California Association of Criminalists
2008-2009 Salary Survey (cont.)
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
E
E
E
E
E
O.T.
Comp
A, B(80), C(80), L,
M(5%,15Yr), N
A, B(80), C(80), L,
M(2.5%,10Yr), N
A, B(80), C(80), L,
M(5%,15Yr), N
A, B(80), C(80), L,
M(2.5%,10Yr), N
A, B(80), C(80), L,
M(5%,15Yr), N
A, B(80), C(80), L,
M(2.5%,10Yr), N
A, B(80), C(80), L,
M(2.5%,10Yr), N
A, B(80), C(80), L,
M(2.5%,10Yr), N
A, B(80), C(80), L,
M(2.5%,10Yr), N
A, B(80), C(80), L,
M(2.5%,10Yr), N
A, B(80), C(80), L,
M(2.5%,10Yr), N
A, B(80), C(80), L,
M(2.5%,10Yr), N
A, B(80), C(80), L,
M(2.5%,10Yr), N
A, B(80), C(80), L,
M(2.5%,10Yr), N
A, B(80), C(80), L,
M(2.5%,10Yr), N
A, B(80), C(80), L,
M(2.5%,10Yr), N
A, B(80), C(80), L,
M(5%,15Yr), N
A, B(80), C(80), J, L,
M(2.5%,15Yr), N
A, B(80), C(80), J, L,
M(2.5%,15Yr), N
A, B(80), C(80), J, L,
M(2.5%,15Yr), N
A, B(80), C(80), I, J,
L, M(5%,15Yr), N
A, B(80), C(80), E, I,
J, L, M(5%,15Yr), N
Miscellaneous
Benefits
DSA
DSA
DSA
DSA
DSA
DSA
DSA
DSA
DSA
DSA
DSA
DSA
DSA
DSA
DSA
DSA
DSA
Unrepresented
Unrepresented
Unrepresented
Management/DSA
Management/DSA
Remarks
149
Kern Co.
District
Attorney's
Office –
Forensic
Science Div.
Laboratory
Name
Fresno Co.
Sheriff's Office
Laboratory
Name
6034-7700
5573-7111
1
4
3384-4444
2927-3735
2602-3322
3
0
0
4
1
Supervising
Criminalist
DNA Technical
Leader
Criminalist III
Criminalist II
Criminalist I
Forensic Tech II
Forensic Tech I
SCW-(0-50)
SCW-25
JNS
LEXP-1
NEXP
LEXP-2
NEXP
6
1
11
7
1
1
Chief Criminalist
Management
No.
3294-4022
3640-4444
4602-5618
5562-6790
6459-7886
7137-8713
7137-8713
7886-9631
Monthly
Salary
11.35/HR
3647-4586
8
0
3794-5221
2
5183-6613
3878-4950
6563-8785
1
1
1
Monthly
Salary
No.
Position
Director of
Forensic
Services
Supervising
Criminalist
Criminalist
Specialist
Criminalist II
Criminalist I
Sr. Identification
Technician
Identification
Technician IV
Identification
Technician III
Identification
Technician II
Identification
Technician I
Lab Technician
Position
Job
Description
NEXP
NEXP
LEXP-2
LEXP-4
JNS
SCW-50
LEXP-3
LEXP-1
JNS
SCW-50
Job
Description
July-08
July-08
July-08
July-08
July-08
July-08
July-08
July-08
Eff.
Date
July-08
July-08
July-08
July-08
July-08
July-08
July-08
July-08
July-08
July-08
July-08
Eff. Date
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
A
See
Remarks
See
Remarks
MISC (See
Remarks)
MISC (See
Remarks)
D
Yes
Yes
See
Remarks
MISC (See
Remarks)
D
A
Yes
See
Remarks
MISC (See
Remarks)
D
D
D
D
On-Call
Type
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
C
E
O.T.
Comp
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
E
O.T.
Comp
C
C
C or D
(choice)
C or D
(choice)
C or D
(choice)
C or D
(choice)
C or D
(choice)
On-Call
Type
Yes
Yes
See
Remarks
MISC (See
Remarks)
Yes
See
Remarks
Yes
Yes
SSI
SSI
Yes
MISC (See
Remarks)
See
Remarks
See
Remarks
MISC (See
Remarks)
MISC (See
Remarks)
%
2.5
2.5
2.5
2.5
2.5
2.5
2.5
2.5
2.5
2.5
2.5
%
Retirement
Type
MISC
MISC
MISC
MISC
MISC
MISC
MISC
MISC
MISC
MISC
MISC
Retirement
Type
California Association of Criminalists
2008-2009 Salary Survey (cont.)
A, B, C, M
A, B, C, M
A, B, C, J, M
A, B, C, J, M
A, B, C, J, M
A, B, C, J, M
A, B, C, J, M
A, B, C, E, J
Miscellaneous
Benefits
Remarks
DSA
DSA
DSA
DSA
DSA
DSA
DSA
DSA
DSA
Supervisory
Management
Remarks
Union: SEIU Local #521;
Management has no union
representation
Management: Plus mgmt
package = 10% base salary
Retirement: Variety of plans
that depend on MOU in effect
when the employee started.
Current MOU: 1.62% at 65
plus County gives new
employee a 6% premium pay,
can be invested into a 457K.
County will match contribution
up to 6% of base pay.
Employees pay 100% of base
retirement.
Medical: County pays 80% of
insurance premium. Health,
dental and vision; amount
adjusted annually.
Longevity: 2% at 10 years,
4% at 15, 6% at 20, 8% at 25
and 10% at 30 years.
On Call: 5% while on call out
team.
Special: Membership in one
professional organization paid.
B100, C100, G, J, L
B100, C100, G, J, L
B100, C100, G, J, L
B100, C100, G, J, L
B100, C100, G, J, L
B100, C100, G, J, L
B100, C100, G, J, L
B100, C100, G, J, L
B100, C100, G, J, L
B100, C100, G, J, L
A, B100, C100, E,
G, J, L
Miscellaneous
Benefits
150
Los Angeles
Police Dept. –
Scientific
Invest. Div.
Laboratory
Name
Los Angeles
Co. Sheriff's
Dept. –
Scientific
Services
Bureau
Laboratory
Name
Los Angeles
Co. Dept. of the
Coroner
Forensic
Laboratories
Laboratory
Name
Criminalist III
Criminalist II
Criminalist I
JNS/LEXP4*
JNS/LEXP1.5
NEXP
LEXP-2
LEXP-5
LEXP-5
Chief Forensic
Chemist II (Lab
Director)
Chief Forensic
Chemist I (Asst.
Director)
Supervising
Criminalist
Position
92
15
12
3
1
No.
14
NEXP
Job
Description
18
5225-6495
6845-8503
7184-8926
7778-9662
8474-10530
9591-11916
Monthly
Salary
3289-4076
4880-6062
6576-8169
80
Crime Lab
Technician
6942-8624
15
Criminalist
7392-10239
7798-11832
Monthly
Salary
5
1
Director
Assistant
Director
Supervising
Criminalist
Senior
Criminalist
No.
4880-6062
6576-8169
10
0
6723-8352
6942-8624
7329-9105
Monthly
Salary
7715-11677
1
0
Position
Criminalist
1
Chief
Supervising
Criminalist II
Supervising
Criminalist I
Research
Criminalist
Senior
Criminalist
1
No.
Position
NEXP
JNS
Job
Description
NEXP
JNS
JNS
SCW-25
SCW-25
Job
Description
July-08
July-08
July-08
July-08
July-08
July-08
Eff.
Date
Jan-09
Jan-09
Jan-09
Jan-09
Jan-09
Jan-09
Eff.
Date
Jan-09
Jan-09
Jan-09
Jan-09
Jan-09
Eff.
Date
Oct-08
MISC [email protected]
MISC [email protected]
MISC [email protected]
6
6
6
6
6
MISC [email protected]
MISC [email protected]
6
%
0
0
0
0
0
0
%
0
0
0
0
0
0
%
MISC [email protected]
Retirement
Type
MISC
MISC
MISC
MISC
MISC
MISC
Retirement
Type
PERS
PERS
PERS
PERS
PERS
Retirement
Type
PERS
No
No
No
No
No
No
SSI
No
No
No
No
No
No
SSI
No
No
No
No
No
No
SSI
D
B***
B***
D**
D**
A
On-Call
Type
A
B
$1.50/hr
B
$1.50/hr
A
A
D
On-Call
Type
D
$1.50/Hr
D
$1.50/Hr
A
A
A
On-Call
Type
A
California Association of Criminalists
2008-2009 Salary Survey (cont.)
C, D
C, D
C, D
A
A
O.T.
Comp
C, D
C, D
C, D
D
A
A
O.T.
Comp
C, D
C, D
A
A
A
O.T.
Comp
A
A, Bset$,
Cset$, J, L
A, Bset$,
Cset$, L
A, Bset$,
Cset$, J, L
A, Bset$,
Cset$, J, L
A, Bset$,
Cset$, J, L
A, Bset$,
Cset$, E, J, L
Miscellaneous
Benefits
Miscellaneous
Benefits
A, B&C %
varies/plan, E,
J, L
A, B&C %
varies, J, L
A, B&C %
varies, J, L
A, B&C %
varies, J, L
A, B&C %
varies, J, L
A, B&C %
varies, J, L
A, B, C, J, K, L
A, B, C, J, K, L
A, B, C, J, K, L
A, B, C, J, K, L
A, B, C, J, K, L
Miscellaneous
Benefits
A, B, C, J, K, L
Supervisory, **1hr/weekday,
1/6 Weekends+Holidays, EAA
*Court Qualified in 3
disciplines, ***1/8 weekday,
1/6 Weekends+Holidays, EAA
***1/8 weekdays, 1/6
Weekends +Holidays, EAA
Mgmnt, **1hr/weekday, 1/6
Weekends+Holidays, EAA
Management, Engineers and
Architects Assoc. (EAA)
Remarks
Same as above
Same as above
Same as above
Same as above
Same as above
Management, Retirement pay
(varies) *Health/Dental
Benefits - Cafeteria Plan
Remarks
PPOA, AFL-CIO
Prof. Peace Officers Assoc.
(PPOA), AFL-CIO
Management
Management
Management
Remarks
151
Oakland Police
Dept. – Crime
Lab
Laboratory
Name
Long Beach
Police Dept.
Laboratory
Name
3
1
1
Criminalist I
Latent Print
Examiner II
Latent Print
Examiner
NEXP
NEXP
NEXP
7
Criminalist II
LEXP-2
3
1
Laboratory
Manager
Criminalist III
No.
Position
5965-7324
June-07
June-08
June-07
32.6140.03/hr
4359 - 6240
June-07
June-07
June-07
Eff.
Date
Oct-08
Oct-08
Oct-08
Oct-08
Oct-08
Oct-08
Eff.
Date
6264-7691
7249-8899
9255-11364
Monthly
Salary
3623-4921
4111-5583
7
2
4663-6343
4216-5724
5025-6844
5655-7578
Monthly
Salary
1
2
SCW-50
Job
Description
LEXP-2
JNS
SCW-30
Forensic
Specialist
Supervisor
Forensic
Specialist II
Forensic
Specialist I
Criminalist I
LEXP-2
2
1
Supervising
Criminalist
Criminalist II
No.
Position
JNS
SCW-70
Job
Description
PERS
PERS
PERS
PERS
PERS
PERS
Retirement
Type
PERS
PERS
PERS
PERS
PERS
PERS
Retirement
Type
4
4
4
4
4
4
%
2.7% @
55
2.7% @
55
2.7% @
55
2.7% @
55
2.7% @
55
2.7% @
55
%
No
No
No
No
No
No
SSI
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
SSI
none
none
A
A
A
A
On-Call
Type
B
B
B
D
D
D
On-Call
Type
California Association of Criminalists
2008-2009 Salary Survey (cont.)
C, D
C, D
C, D
C, D
C, D
*
O.T.
Comp
A, D
A, D
A, D
A, D
A ,D
A, D
O.T.
Comp
Miscellaneous
Benefits
A, Bset, C100,
D-2 ea., J, L, N,
Vision Plan
A, Bset, C100,
D-2 ea., J, L, N,
Vision Plan
A, Bset, C100,
D-2 ea., J, L, N,
Vision Plan
A, Bset, C100,
D-2 ea., J, L, N,
Vision Plan
A, Bset, C100,
D-2 ea., J, L, N,
Vision Plan
A, Bset, C100,
D-2 ea., J, L, N,
Vision Plan
A, B, C, F, G, I,
J, L
A, B, C, F, G, I,
J, L
A, B, C, F, G, I,
J, L
Miscellaneous
Benefits
A, B, C, F, G, I,
J, L
A, B, C, F, G, I,
J, L
A, B, C, F, G, I,
J, L
37.5 hr/wk
37.5 hr/wk
SEIU 790; 37.5 hr/wk
Local 21; 37.5 hr/wk
Supervisory, Local 21; 37.5
hr/wk
Management Local 21
Remarks
Health/dental 50-100%
depends on plan option
All positions
Supervisor
Union: International Assoc. of
Machinists and Aerospace
Workers
Supervisor
Remarks
152
*Sacramento
Co. District
Attorney's
Office –
Forensic
Services
Laboratory
Name
Orange Co.
Sheriff-Coroner
Dept.
Laboratory
Name
0
5
Criminalist II
Criminalist I
Forensic Lab
Technician
LEXP-1
NEXP
NEXP
6
25
Criminalist III
JNS
2
Criminalist IV
2869-3487
3219-3913
4296-5222
5349-6501
5484-6668
5799-7050
5
2851-3829
9
7901-9603
3444-4612
9
1
4337-5840
19
Director
4612-6217
12
Supervising
Criminalist
5143-6913
4
Monthly
Salary
4500-6058
9
No.
Position
4994-6725
5897-7916
49
5
6382-8597
4
Asst. Director
Monthly
Salary
7686-12596
2%
increase
due Jan 09
6148-10197
2%
increase
due Jan 09
12
1
Director
Senior Forensic
Scientist
Forensic
Scientist III
Forensic
Scientist II
Forensic
Scientist I
Supervising
Forensic
Specialist
Senior Forensic
Specialist
Lead Forensic
Specialist
Forensic
Specialist
Fingerprint
Technician II
No.
Position
ADV.JNS
SCW-5
Job
Description
NEXP
NEXP
LEXP
JNS
SCW-5
NEXP
LEXP
JNS
SCW/JNS
Job
Description
July-05
July-05
July-05
July-05
July-05
July-05
July-05
Eff.
Date
July-08
July-08
July-08
July-08
July-08
July-08
July-08
July-08
MISC
SAFETY
SAFETY
SAFETY
SAFETY
SAFETY
SAFETY
Retirement
Type
MISC 2.7%
@ 55
MISC 2.7%
@ 55
MISC 2.7%
@ 55
MISC 2.7%
@ 55
MISC 2.7%
@ 55
3.7
4.8
4.8
4.8
4.8
4.8
9.6
%
11.5-15.5
11.5-15.5
11.5-15.5
11.5-15.5
11.5-15.5
11.5-15.5
11.5-15.5
11.5-15.5
11.5-15.5
7.54
MISC 2.7%
@ 55
July-08
MISC 2.7%
@ 55
MISC 2.7%
@ 55
MISC 2.7%
@ 55
MISC 2.7%
@ 55
7.54
MISC 2.7%
@ 55
July-08
July-08
%
Retirement
Type
Eff.
Date
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
SSI
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
SSI
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
On-Call
Type
A
A
B, 25%
A
A
A
B, 25%
B, 25%
A
A
A
On-Call
Type
California Association of Criminalists
2008-2009 Salary Survey (cont.)
C
C
C
C
C
C
E
O.T.
Comp
C, D
C, D
C, D
C, D
C, D
C, D
C, D
C, D
C, D
E
E
O.T.
Comp
Miscellaneous
Benefits
A, B100, C100,
D, J, K, L
A, B100, C100,
D, J, K, L
A, B100, C100,
D, J, K, L
A, B100, C100,
D, J, K, L
A, B100, C100,
D, J, K, L
A, B100, C100,
D, J, K, L
A, B100, C100,
D, J, K, L
A, B, C100, D,
H, J, L
A, B, C100, D,
H, J, L
A, B, C100, D,
H, J, L
A, B, C100, D,
H, J, L
A, B, C100, D,
H, J, L
A, B, C100, D,
H, J, L
A, B, C100, D,
H, J, L
A, B, C100, D,
H, J, L
A, B, C100, D,
H, J, L
A, B, C100, D,
H, J, K, L
A, B, C100, D,
E, H, J, K, L
Miscellaneous
Benefits
SCALE
SCALE
SCALE
SCALE
SCALE
Supervisory Represented by
SCALE
Mgmt. +3.5% differential
Remarks
10 Print / Cal-ID
H- Tuition only
H- Tuition only
H- Tuition only
Supervisory H- Tuition only
H- Tuition only
H- Tuition only
H- Tuition only
Supervisory/Project Leader
(Dual Track) H- Tuition only
Management, +$3500, HTuition only
Management, +$3500, HTuition only
Remarks
153
*San
Bernardino Co.
Sheriff's
Dept. –
Forensic Lab
Laboratory
Name
2
1
2
0
2
Lieutenant
Criminalist III
(Dep. Sheriff)
Supervising
Criminalist
Sergeant
Criminalist II
(Dep. Sheriff)
Criminalist II
Deputy Sheriff
Criminalist I
SCW-0
SCW-0
SCW-0
JNS
JNS/LEXP-2
SCW-0
NEXP
NEXP
NEXP
NEXP
NEXP
NEXP
LEXP
NEXP
SCW-0
Crime Scene
Specialist II
Crime Scene
Specialist I
Fingerprint
Examiner I
Fingerprint
Examiner II
Fingerprint
Examiner
Trainee
Forensic
Specialist II
Criminalist
Trainee
Supervising
Crime Scene
Specialist
Supervising
Fingerprint
Examiner
1
Lab Director
SCW-0
1
Captain
4030-5139
3742-4775
3078-3929
3742-4775
2794-3564
3396-4335
10
7
15
2
1
4125-5268
4335-5531
4661-5954
4661-5954
4435-6067
5668-7245
6347-8150
6566-8401
7095-8859
7095-8859
7999-10237
8187-10478
Monthly
Salary
2
1
2
1
11
1
14
No.
Position
Job
Description
Jun-07
Jun-07
June-07
June-07
June-07
June-07
June-07
June-07
June-07
June-07
July-07
June-07
July-07
June-07
July-07
July-07
June-07
July-07
Eff.
Date
MISC
MISC
MISC
MISC
MISC
MISC
MISC
MISC
MISC
MISC
SAFETY
MISC
SAFETY
SAFETY
MISC
SAFETY
SAFETY
MISC
SAFETY
Retirement
Type
var
var
var
var
var
var
var
var
var
var
var
var
var
var
var
var
var
var
var
%
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
SSI
C, D
C, D
B
$3.25/hr
C, D
C, D
C, D
C, D
C, D
B
$3.25/hr
B
$3.25/hr
B
$3.25/hr
B
$3.25/hr
B
$3.25/hr
B
$3.25/hr
C, D
C, D
B
$3.25/hr
B
$3.50/hr
C, D
B
$120/wk
C, D
C, D
B
$3.25/hr
B
$3.50/hr
C, D
C, D
B
$120/wk
B
$120/wk
C, D
B
$3.50/hr
C, D
A
B
$120/wk
B
$120/wk
A
E
O.T.
Comp
C
C
On-Call
Type
California Association of Criminalists
2008-2009 Salary Survey (cont.)
A, B, C, D, E,
H, J, L
A, B, C, D, E,
H, J, L
A, B, C, D, E
(non-call), H, J,
L
A, B, C, D, E
(on call), H, J, L
A, B, C, D, E
(on call), H, J, L
A, B, C, D, E,
H, J, L
A, B, C, D, E,
H, J, L
A, B, C, D, E,
H, J, L
Miscellaneous
Benefits
A, B, C, D, E,
H, I, J, L, N
A, B, C, D, E,
H, J, L, N
A, B, C, D, E,
H, I, J, L, N
A, B, C, D, E
(on call), H, I,
J, L, N
A, B, C, D, E
(on call), H, J,
L, N
A, B, C, D, E
(on call), H, I,
J, L, N
A, B, C, D, E
(on call), H, I,
J, L, N
A, B, C, D, E
(on call), J, L
A, B, C, D, E
(on call), H, I,
J, L, N
A, B, C, D, E
(on call), J, L
A, B, C, D, E
(on call), H, J,
L
Remarks
PEA, Technical & Inspection
Unit
PEA, Technical & Inspection
Unit
PEA, Technical & Inspection
Unit
PEA, Technical & Inspection
Unit
PEA, Technical & Inspection
Unit
PEA, Technical & Inspection
Unit
PEA, Technical & Inspection
Unit
PEA Supervisory Unit
PEA Supervisory Unit
PEA, Admin. Service
Safety Unit
PEA, Admin. Service
Safety Unit
Safety
Management/Supervisory
Management/Supervisory
Safety
Management/Supervisory
Safety
Management/Supervisory
Management/Supervisory
Exempt
154
San Diego
Police Dept.
Crime Lab
Laboratory
Name
San Diego Co.
Sheriff's Office
Crime Lab
Laboratory
Name
Lab Assistant
NEXP
Criminalist II
Criminalist I
NEXP
Laboratory
Manager
Supervising
Criminalist
JNS-2
LEXP-3
Job
Description
LEXP-2 or 3
SCW-70
JNS
JNS
JNS
Position
Forensic
Evidence Tech
Senior Forensic
Document
Examiner
Forensic
Document
Examiner
Senior IT
Engineer
(Computer
Crimes)
IT Engineer
(Computer
Crimes)
Senior Latent
Print Examiner
Latent Print
Examiner
SCW-70
6
Criminalist I
NEXP
NEXP w/AA,
LEXP-1 or 2
6900-8788
5106-6221
6590-8011
5264-6398
1
1
2
7
7183-8676
4
3
4676-5667
6244-7546
8073-9417
1
25
Monthly
Salary
No.
2421-2943
6590-8011
1
2
7067-8590
4339-5273
5645-6864
6590-8011
1
5
23
Criminalist II
7779-9455
6
JNS
8577-10424
1
7058-8582
6413-12307
1
9
Monthly
Salary
No.
Criminalist III
Crime Lab
Director
Assistant Crime
Lab Director
Supervising
Criminalist
Position
SCW-70
Job
Description
July-07
July-07
July-07
July-07
Eff.
Date
July-08
July-08
July-08
July-08
July-08
July-08
July-08
July-08
July-08
July-08
July-08
July-08
July-08
July-08
Eff.
Date
6.2
6.2
CERS w/ PERS
reciprocity
CERS w/ PERS
reciprocity
MISC
MISC
MISC
MISC
Retirement Type
7
7
7
12.8
%
6.2
6.2
6.2
6.2
CERS w/ PERS
reciprocity
CERS w/ PERS
reciprocity
CERS w/ PERS
reciprocity
CERS w/PERS
reciprocity
6.2
6.2
6.2
6.2
6.2
6.2
6.2
6.2
%
CERS w/ PERS
reciprocity
CERS w/ PERS
reciprocity
CERS w/ PERS
reciprocity
CERS w/ PERS
reciprocity
CERS w/ PERS
reciprocity
CERS w/ PERS
reciprocity
CERS w/ PERS
reciprocity
CERS w/ PERS
reciprocity
Retirement Type
No
No
No
No
A
B
C
C
On-Call
Type
A
Yes
SSI
A, D
A
C
C
A
A
C, D
C, D
C, D
E
O.T.
Comp
C, D
C, D
C, D
E
E
C, D
A
C, D
C, D
A, D
B
C, D
C, D
C, D
A, B
E
O.T.
Comp
A, D
A, D
B
A
A
On-Call
Type
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
SSI
California Association of Criminalists
2008-2009 Salary Survey (cont.)
Miscellaneous
Benefits
A*, B100*, C*,
J, L
A*, B100*, C*,
J, L
A*, B100*, C*,
J, L
A*, B100*, C*,
J, L
A, B (varies), L
MEA, 2.5 @ 55
MEA (Municipal Employees
Assn), 2.5 @ 55
Supervisory, MEA, 2.5 @ 55
Management, Unclassified, 2.5
@ 55
Remarks
Health services
Public service
Public service; standby pay for
on call
Confidential employees
A, B (varies), E
(on call), L
A, B (varies), L
Confidential employees
A, B (varies), E
(on call), L
A, B (varies), E
(on call), L
Professional
Confidential employees
Middle management; stand-by
pay for on call
Professional; stand-by pay for
on call
Professional; stand-by pay for
on call
Professional; stand-by pay for
on call
Public service: stand-by pay
for on call
Management
Management
Remarks
A, B (varies), L
A, B (varies), L
Miscellaneous
Benefits
A, B (varies), E,
L
A, B (varies), E,
L
A, B (varies), E,
L
A, B (varies), E
(on call), L
A, B (varies), E
(on call), L
A, B (varies), E
(on call), L
A, B (varies), E,
L
155
*San Mateo Co.
Sheriff's Office
Crime Lab
Laboratory
Name
*San Francisco
Police Dept.
Crime Lab
Laboratory
Name
Criminalist I
NEXP
NEXP
JNS/LEXP-2
JNS/LEXP-2
JNS/LEXP-3
Criminalist II
JNS/LEXP-3
Firearms
Technical
Leader
Forensic
Technical
Leader
Forensic
Specialist II
Forensic
Specialist I
DNA Technical
Leader
JNS/LEXP-3
4654-5818
5171-6464
5
1
5430-6787
6946-8682
5311-6639
6615-8269
6946-8682
5783-7229
1
1
1
10
1
0
Supervising
Forensic Spec.
SCW-20
7341-9177
7520-9401
1
3
8292-10365
Monthly
Salary
6559-7971
4869-5919
8368-10173
1
No.
SCW-20
Laboratory
Manager
Quality
Assurance
Manager
Position
3
17
1
Criminalist III
8829-10729
11803
1
2
Monthly
Salary
No.
Criminalist II
Criminalist I
Director,
Forensic
Services Division
Crime Lab
Manager
Position
Supervising
Criminalist
Job
Description
SCW-25
SCW-75
JNS
Job
Description
June-07
June-07
June-07
June-07
June-07
June-07
June-07
June-07
June-07
MISC 2% @
55.5
Novem
ber-07
7
7
7
MISC 2% @
55.5
MISC 2% @
55.5
MISC 2% @
55.5
7
7
7
7
7
7
0
0
%
MISC 2% @
55.5
MISC 2% @
55.5
MISC 2% @
55.5
MISC 2% @
55.5
MISC 2% @
55.5
MISC 2% @
55.5
Retirement
Type
MISC 2% @
55.5
MISC
MISC
MISC
MISC
SAFETY
Retirement Type
Eff.
Date
Novem
ber-07
July 06
July-06
July-06
July-06
July-06
Eff.
Date
7.5
7.5
7.5
7.5
7.5
%
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
SSI
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
SSI
B
B
B
B
B
B
B
B
B
A
A
On-Call
Type
D
D
D
D
C, D
C, D
C, D
C, D
C, D
O.T.
Comp
C, D
C, D
C, D
C, D
C, D
C, D
C, D
C, D
C, D
E
E
O.T.
Comp
On-Call
Type
California Association of Criminalists
2008-2009 Salary Survey (cont.)
Remarks
A,B/C (80-90%),
Vis.=100%,D,G,I,J,L,N
A,B/C (80-90%),
Vis.=100%,D,G,I,J,L,N
A,B/C (80-90%),
Vis.=100%,D,G,I,J,L,N
A,B/C (80-90%),
Vis.=100%,D,G,I,J,L,N
A,B/C (80-90%),
Vis.=100%,D,G,I,J,L,N
A,B/C (80-90%),
Vis.=100%,D,G,I,J,L,N
A,B/C (80-90%),
Vis.=100%,D,G,I,J,L,N
Law enforcement unit
(non-safety classifications);
N=2.5% Crime Scene Cert.
5.0% ABC, IAI, AFTE
Cert.; average % for
retirement based upon age
when hired and plan with
additional 3%.
Supervisory; Law
enforcement unit (nonsafety classifications);
N=2.5% Crime Scene Cert.
5.0% ABC, IAI, AFTE
Cert.; average % for
retirement based upon age
when hired and plan with
additional 3%.
Management
Management
Remarks
Supervisory, technical leads
Management
Management; Div. includes
Crime Lab
A,B/C (80-90%),
Vis.=100%,D,G,I,J,L,N
A,B/C (80-90%),
Vis.=100%,D,G,J,L,N
A,B/C (80-90%),
Vis.=100%,D,G,J,L
Miscellaneous
Benefits
A,B/C (80-90%),
Vis.=100%,D,E,G,J,L
A, B, C, H, J, L
A, B, C, H, J, L
A, B, C, H, J, L
A, B, C, H, J, L
Miscellaneous
Benefits
156
Criminalist I
Toxicologist III
Toxicologist II
Toxicologist I
NEXP
JNS
LEXP-1
NEXP
23
0
0
0
3
Forensic
Scientist III
Forensic
Scientist II
Forensic
Scientist I
Forensic
Scientist Trainee
Forensic Lab
Technician
LEXP-3
LEXP-1
NEXP
NEXP
2540-3576
3131-4379
4072-5698
5050-7077
5472-7676
5850-8207
6778-9489
1
5
7733-10827
Monthly
Salary
4516-5457
5485-6641
6094-7376
5384-6516
6211-7518
7167-8681
8034-9769
9081-11054
Monthly
Salary
1074113785
1
No.
0
1
0
4
14
23
6
1
1
No.
JNS
SCW-50
Forensic
Sciences Lab
Manager
Assistant
Forensic
Services Lab
Manager
Supervisor
Forensic
Scientist
Position
Criminalist II
LEXP-1
Job
Description
Criminalist III
Supervising
Criminalist
Laboratory
Director
Assistant
Laboratory
Director
Position
JNS
SCW
Job
Description
* 2008 data not received.
Ventura Co.
Sheriff's Dept. –
Forensic
Sciences Lab
Laboratory
Name
Santa Clara Co.
District
Attorney's
Crime Lab
Laboratory
Name
Dec-08
Dec-08
Dec-08
Dec-08
Dec-08
Dec-08
Dec-08
Dec-08
Eff.
Date
June-08
June-08
June-08
June-08
June-08
June-08
Aug-08
Aug-08
Dec-07
Eff.
Date
1937 ACT
1937 ACT
1937 ACT
1937 ACT
1937 ACT
1937 ACT
1937 ACT
1937 ACT
Retirement
Type
PERS 2.5%
@ 55
PERS 2.5%
@ 55
PERS 2.5%
@ 55
PERS 2.5%
@ 55
PERS 2.5%
@ 55
PERS 2.5%
@ 55
PERS 2.5%
@ 55
PERS 2.5%
@ 55
Retirement
Type
PERS 2.5%
@ 55
2
2
2
2
2
2
0
0
%
3.9
3.9
3.9
3.9
3.9
3.9
3.9
3.9
3.9
%
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
SSI
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
SSI
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
On-Call
Type
A
A
A
B
B
B
A
A
A
On-Call
Type
California Association of Criminalists
2008-2009 Salary Survey (cont.)
C, D
C, D
C, D
C, D
C, D
C, D
E
E
O.T.
Comp
D
D
D
D
D
D
E
E
E
O.T.
Comp
A, B, D, H, L, N,
1.75% to 401(k)
A, B, D, H, L, N,
1.75% to 401(k)
A, B, D, H, L, N,
1.75% to 401(k)
A, B, D, H, L, N,
1.75% to 401(k)
A, B, D, H, L, N,
1.75% to 401(k)
A, B, D, H, L, N,
2.5% to 401(k)
A, B, D, H, J, L, M,
N, 2.5% to 401(k)
Miscellaneous
Benefits
A, B, D, E, H, J, L,
M, N, 2.5% to
401(k)
A, B, C, D, G, H, J, L
A, B, C, D, G, H, J, L
A, B, C, D, G, H, J, L
A, B, C, D, G, H, J, L
A, B, C, D, G, H, J, L
A, B, C, D, G, H, J, L
A, B, C, D, G, H, J, L
A, B, C, D, G, H, J, L
Remarks
SEIU, $900 tuition
reimbursement. Lump
sum payment equal to 2%
of yearly pay in effect as of
Jun. 08.
Mgmt: $800 tuition
reimbursement, $1250
professional development.
Lump sum payment equal
to 2% of yearly pay in
effect as of Aug. 08.
Management
Remarks
SEIU Supervisory Unit; 5% for
Advanced Degree, $563 per
month for medical ins.
SEIU Supervisory Unit; 5% for
Advanced Degree, $563 per
month for medical ins.
SEIU Supervisory Unit; 5% for
Advanced Degree, $563 per
month for medical ins.
SEIU Supervisory Unit; 5% for
Advanced Degree, $563 per
month for medical ins.
SEIU Supervisory Unit; 5% for
Advanced Degree, $563 per
month for medical ins.
SEIU Supervisory Unit; 5% for
Advanced Degree, $563 per
month for medical ins.
Management; 5% for
Advanced Degree
Management; 5% for
Advanced Degree
A, B, C, D, E, G, H, J, L
Miscellaneous
Benefits
157
No experience necessary
Limited experience required, followed with the number of years experience required; e.g., LEXP-2
Full journeyman with no supervisory requirement
Supervisor also doing casework--indicate percentage of casework; e.g. SCW-25
MISCELLANEOUS BENEFITS
A
Life insurance
B
Health insurance paid (%)
C
Dental Insurance paid (%)
D
CAC dues paid
E
Vehicle
F
Research time
G
Educational leave
H
Educational pay
I
Uniform pay
J
Pay & travel to professional meetings
K
Annual physical
L
Time off for professional meetings
M
Longevity pay (%/year)
N
Career/education incentive pay
OVERTIME COMPENSATION
A
Straight time off
B
Straight time pay
C
Time & half off
D
Time & half pay
E
None
ON-CALL COMPENSATION
A
Not required
B
Required & compensated
C
Required but not compensated
D
Voluntary
Retirement:
SAFETY
State Peace Officer/Safety Retirement--please state what percentage and at what age the retirement formula is set at for the retirement system in your agency (i.e., 3% @ 50, 2.5% @ 55)
PERS
Public Employees Retirement System--please state what percentage and at what age the retirement formula is set at for the retirement system in your agency (i.e., 3% @ 50, 2.5% @ 55)
MISC.
Other Retirement (Local Govt. Funded)
PERCENT
Percent of Salary Contributed by Employee
SOCIAL SECURITY
Yes or No
Job Description:
NEXP
LEXP
JNS
SCW
Legend
158
Appendix J
Presentation on ASCLD/LAB
Certification
WhatisASCLD/LAB?
AmericanSocietyofCrimeLaboratoryDirectors
LaboratoryAccreditationBoard
ƒ
ƒ
ƒ
NonͲprofitCorporation
Governedbyvolunteer
fullͲtimeLaboratory
Managers
Supportedbysmall
professionalstaff
X
HowdidASCLD/LABcometobe?
ƒ
ƒ
ƒ
ƒ
ƒ
EstablishedbyASCLDinmid‘70s
Objectiveswereestablished
Firstlaboratoriesaccreditedin1982
DelegateAssemblyformedin1984
Bylawsadopted&ASCLD/LABformedasan
independentcorporateentity
Y
159
X
ASCLD/LABToday
ƒ
ƒ
ƒ
ƒ
Twoaccreditationprograms
Legacy
Legacy
International
338laboratoriescurrentlyaccredited
22Federal
178State
104Local
24 P i t 24Private
10International
56labsareaccreditedundertheInternationalProgram
282labsareaccreditedundertheLegacyProgram
Z
ASCLD/LABObjectives
• Imp
provetheq
qualityyoflaboratoryyservices
• Developandmaintaincriteriatoassess
performanceandstrengthenoperations
• Provideindependent,impartialandobjective
operationalreviews
• Offerameansofidentifyinglaboratoriesthat
meetestablishedstandards
[
Y
160
XWVYX
OrganizationofASCLD/LAB
DelegateAssembly
comprisedofdirectorof
accreditedlaboratoriesand
systemsortheirdesignees
\
Boardofdirectorsiselectedto
4ͲyeartermsbyDelegateAssembly
11 B dmemb
11Board
bers
8fromDelegateAssemblymembership
1frompublicatͲlarge
1fromlawenforcementorprosecuting
attorneys
attorneys
ƒ 1nonͲvotingexͲofficiopresidentofASCLD
ƒ
ƒ
ƒ
ƒ
]
Z
161
ProfessionalStaff
ƒ
ƒ
ƒ
ƒ
ƒ
ƒ
ƒ
ƒ
ƒ
ƒ
ExecutiveDirector
LegacyProgramManager
Legacy
Program Manager
InternationalProgramManager
QualityManager
ProficiencyTestManager
BusinessManager
TrainingManager
3 Administrative Assistants
3AdministrativeAssistants
FinancialAssistant
12partͲtimestaffinspectors
^
Approximately500volunteer
inspectors/assessors
ƒ Volunteersaretheheartoftheprogram
ƒ Primarilyactivepractitionersinthevarious
accrediteddisciplines
ƒ Seniororsupervisorylevelpersonnel
ƒ Selectedfromaccreditedlaboratoriesand
trainedbyASCLD/LABasinspectorsand
assessors
_
162
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Who/Whatdoes
ASCLD/LABaccredit?
Crime/ForensicLaboratories
DefinitionofCrime/ForensicLaboratory
Alaboratory(withatleast
onefullͲtimescientist)that
examines
examin
esphy
physical
sicalevidencein
evidence in
criminalmattersandprovidesopinion
testimony withrespecttosuchphysical
evidenceinacourtoflaw.
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ASCLD/LABAccreditation
Avoluntaryprograminwhichacrimelaboratory
meetsestablishedstandardsin:
ƒ
ƒ
ƒ
ƒ
ƒ
ƒ
ƒ
Management
Operations
Personnel
Equipment
PhysicalPlant
Physical
Plant
Security
Health&Safety
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163
\
LegacyProgram
TheASCLD/LABLegacyprogramconsistsof
statementsofprinciples,basicstandards,
criteriaforevaluationofthestandards,
andadiscussion.
XX
Anexample...
ƒ Principle– Managementwillbemoreeffectivewhen,before
initiatinganycourseofaction,theobjectivesareclearly
determined,articulated,andunderstood.
ƒ Standard – Thelaboratoryshouldestablishobjectiveswhich
arerelevanttothecommunitythatitservesand
communicatethemtoallemployeesorallyandinwritten
form.
ƒ Criteria – Doesthelaboratoryhaveawrittenstatementofits
objectives?
ƒ Discussion – Awrittenstatementofobjectivesfulfillsaneed
fordirectionthroughacarefulanalysisofwhatthedirector
andtheparentorganizationbelievearetheappropriate
functionsofthelaboratory…
XY
164
]
XWV
ASCLD/LABCurrentlyAccredits
inNineDisciplines
ƒ
ƒ
ƒ
ƒ
ƒ
ƒ
ƒ
ƒ
ƒ
ControlledSubstances
Toxicology
TraceEvidence
Biology
LatentPrints
Firearms/Toolmarks
Q ti
QuestionedDocuments
dD
t
Digital&MultimediaEvidence
CrimeScene(optional)
XZ
DoesASCLD/LABAccredit
OnlyaPartofaLaboratory?
ƒA
Alab
l borattorymusttappllyfforandbe
db
accreditedinalldisciplinesinwhichit
conductsexaminations.
ƒ One
Oneexceptionisthatalaboratoryhasan
exception is that a laboratory has an
optiontonotapplyforaccreditationin
crimescene.
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165
^
HowdoestheAccreditationProcess
WorkforInterestedLaboratories?
ƒ
Prospectiveapplicantspurchaseandreview
acurrenttaccredit
ditati
tionmanuall.
ƒ
CandidatesconductaselfͲassessmentusing
thestandardsinthemanual.
ƒ
Candidatesinitiatenecessarycorrective
actions,preparerequiredmanualsand
documenttheirprocedures.
X\
HowdoestheAccreditationProcessWork?
(continued)
ƒ Whenthecandidatelaboratoryissatisfiedthatitisprepared,
anapplicationincludingallrequireddocumentationis
completedandsubmittedtoASCLD/LAB.
l t d d b itt d t ASCLD/LAB
ƒ Aninspectionteamcaptain(generallyastaffinspector)is
selectedbyASCLD/LABandtheapplicationdocumentsare
senttotheteamcaptainforreview.
ƒ Theapplicantlaboratoryandtheteamcaptainagreeupona
dateforanonͲsiteinspection.
ƒ AninspectionteamofASCLD/LABtrainedinspectors,ofthe
appropriatesize(aminimumof2inspectors),isassembled.
X]
166
_
XWVY
HowdoestheAccreditationProcessWork?
(continued)
ƒ Attheconclusionoftheinspection,theteamconductsholdsa
closingmeetingwiththelaboratorytoreviewandsummarize
th findi
thefi
dings.
ƒ Adraftreportwillbepreparedbytheinspectionteam
captain.Thereportwillbeauditedandtheauditedreport
willbesenttothelaboratorydirector,usuallywithintendays.
ƒ Thelaboratorymaybegintheprocessofcorrecting
deficienciesnotedinthereport.Ifthelaboratorytakes
exceptiontoafindinginthereport,ithastheoptionto
appealtotheBoard.
X^
HowdoestheAccreditationProcessWork?
(continued)
ƒ Th
Thelaboratorywillworkwiththeinspectionteam
l b t
ill
k ith th i
ti t
captainindeterminingcompliancewiththe
requirementsoftheprogram.Asupplemental
reportwillbepreparedandtheBoardwillmakea
decisionconcerningthegrantingofaccreditation.
ƒ Accreditationisgrantedforaperiodoffive(5)years.
X_
167
`
WhataretheRequirementsfor
Accreditation?
ƒ
Thereareapproximately140evaluation
standardsinthecurrentprogram
ƒ
Someofthestandardsareonlyapplicableto
specific disciplines
specificdisciplines
ƒ
Thestandardsaredesignatedaseither
Essential,ImportantorDesirable
X`
Essential,Important&Desirable
ƒ EssentialStandards aredefinedasstandardswhichdirectly
affectandhavefundamentalimpactontheworkproductof
thelaboratoryortheintegrityoftheevidence.
ƒ ImportantStandards aredefinedasstandardswhichare
consideredtobekeyindicatorsoftheoverallqualityofthe
laboratorybutmaynotdirectlyaffecttheworkproductnor
theintegrityoftheevidence.
ƒ DesirableStandards aredefinedasstandardswhichhavethe
leasteffectontheworkproductortheintegrityofthe
evidencebutwhichneverthelessenhancetheprofessionalism
ofthelaboratory.
YW
168
XW
XW
ComplianceRequirements
Tobecomeaccreditedalaboratorymustcomply
with:
100%oftheEssentialcriteria,
75%oftheImportantcriteriaand
50%oftheDesirablecriteria
YX
GeneralStandardsmustbemetby
examinersinalldisciplines,includingthe
following:
ƒ
ƒ
ƒ
ƒ
ƒ
ƒ
Operationalandtechnicalprocedure
manuals
Qualitymanual
Documentedtrainingprogram
Doc mentation ofchain
Documentationof
chainof
ofccustod
stody
Properidentificationandstorageof
evidence
Facilitysecurity
YY
169
XX
GeneralStandards…(continued)
ƒ Examinationdocumentation
ƒ Protectionofevidencefromloss,cross
transfer,contaminationand/ordeleterious
change
ƒ Externalproficiencytesting
ƒ Technicalreviewoftheworkproduct
Technical review of the work product
ƒ Monitoringoftestimony
YZ
Foradditionalinformation
aboutcrimelaboratoryaccreditation,contactͲͲ
AmericanSocietyofCrimeLaboratoryDirectors
American
Society of Crime Laboratory Directors
LaboratoryAccreditationBoard
ASCLD/LAB
ExecutiveDirectorRalphKeaton
919Ͳ773Ͳ2600
www ascldͲlab org
www.ascldͲlab.org
ThankYou!!
Y[
170
XY
Appendix K
Existing State Oversight Entities
for Forensic Science Practices
The California Crime Laboratory Review Task Force compiled a list of states that created com­
missions, boards, or other government organizations to address and improve forensic science
practices. The 16 oversight entities are described below, with information about the source
of their authority or origin.
Alabama Coroner’s Training Commission
(Code of Ala. § 11-5-31)
The Alabama Coroner’s Training Commission is charged with authorizing, overseeing, and
administering pre-service and in-service training for coroners. The Commission establishes
minimum standards of training, in addition to developing and periodically revising a list of
approved training programs for coroners and their designated assistants. The authorizing
legislation provides also for a minimum number of training hours and sets forth sanctions for
coroners who fail to meet minimum standards.
The Commission is composed of seven appointed members serving four-year terms, following
initial staggered terms, as follows:
• One county coroner appointed by the president of the Alabama Coroner’s Association;
• Onedistrictattorneyappointedbytheattorneygeneral;
• Onecountycoronerappointedbythegovernor;
• OnemedicalexaminerorforensicscientistappointedbythedirectoroftheAlabama
Department of Forensic Sciences;
• ThreecountycoronersappointedbytheboardofdirectorsoftheAlabamaCoroner’s
Association.
Arizona Forensic Sciences Advisory Committee
(Formed by the Arizona Attorney General in cooperation with the Arizona Criminal Justice
Commission. See www.azag.gov/law_enforcement/ColdCaseTaskForceReport2007.pdf)
The Arizona Forensic Sciences Advisory Committee is designed to facilitate coordination of
efforts between state and local crime laboratories in Arizona. It is authorized to establish
and monitor performance measures and to work with lab directors to coordinate long-term
planning, including equipment sharing and specialization by state and local laboratories. The
Advisory Committee also considers and addresses questions or concerns from law enforce­
ment agencies that do not have their own crime lab and from the public regarding lab opera­
tions. In particular, the Advisory Committee monitors and assesses backlog concerns at labs
throughout the state. It works with the laboratories to make backlog reduction a priority and
to help secure additional funding, where necessary, to eliminate backlogs.
171
In addition, the Advisory Committee constitutes the central independent entity to address and
investigate questions and/or complaints from the public relating to laboratory operations. It
monitors laboratory audits and other accreditation activities. The Advisory Committee mem­
bership is as follows:
• Theattorneygeneral(ordesignee);
• ThedirectorofArizonaCriminalJusticeCommission(ordesignee);
• ThedirectoroftheDepartmentofPublicSafety(ordesignee);
• Labdirectors(ordesignees)fromallstateandlocalforensiclaboratories;
• Thepolicechief(ordesignee)ofmunicipalitiesthatoperateaforensiclaboratory;
• Onepolicechief(ordesignee)fromamunicipalitywithapopulationover200,000that
does not have a forensic laboratory;
• Onepolicechief(ordesignee)fromamunicipalitywithapopulationof200,000orless
that does not operate a forensic laboratory;
• Onecountysheriffandonecountyattorneyfromacountywithapopulationoffour
hundred thousand persons or more;
• Onecountysheriffandonecountyattorneyfromacountywithapopulationofless than four hundred thousand persons;
• Arepresentativeofanorganizationrepresentingvictims’families;
• Aretiredsuperiorcourtorappellatecourtjudge;
• AforensicscientistfromanationalorganizationsuchastheAmericanSocietyofCrime
Lab Directors (ASCLD) or the National Forensic Science Technology Center (NFSTC).
Illinois Laboratory Advisory Committee
(20 Ill. Comp. Stat. 3981/1 et seq.)
The state Advisory Committee performs a number of oversight functions, including:
• Recommendwaystoensureproperdisclosureofscientificevidence,reports,and
analytical documentation in criminal cases;
• Makerecommendationsregardingaccreditationandqualityassuranceincompliancewith
ISO and other professional standards;
• Makerecommendationsaboutlaboratorytrainingprocedures;
• Makerecommendationsregardinglaboratorystaffingandfundingneeds“toensure resources to obtain accurate, timely, and complete analysis of all samples submitted for
testing;”
• Makerecommendationstoensurethatprivateforensiclaboratoriesmeetthesamequality
standards required of government labs;
• Makerecommendations“toensureconsistencyamongjudicialordersandrulingsasit relates to evidence and discovery;”
• Examinewaystomakemoreefficientuseofthestatelaboratories,includingfacilities, personnel, and equipment;
• Examinewaystoreducelaboratorybacklogs;
172
• Planforfuturestatelaboratoryneeds,andreviewandassessmajorfacility
expenditures;
• Takeanynecessaryactiontoprovideforthesafeandefficientoperationofstate
laboratories;
• ExaminewaystoenhanceIllinoisHomelandSecuritythroughcoordinationof
laboratory services with the Illinois Terrorism Task Force;
• Ensurethatanalystsareprovidedallnecessarytoolsandinformationneededtodraw
all relevant scientific conclusions, and consider methods to guarantee that observations
and conclusions are not inadvertently influenced by extraneous information;
• Makeannualrecommendationsinareportfiledwiththegovernor,GeneralAssembly,
and Illinois Supreme Court to facilitate any of the responsibilities of the Committee.
The Committee is comprised of 15 members serving staggered terms, appointed as follows:
• AscientistfromtheDepartmentofAgriculture,appointedbythedirectorof
Agriculture;
• AscientistfromtheDepartmentofNaturalResources,appointedbythedirectorof
Natural Resources;
• AscientistfromtheDepartmentofPublicHealth,appointedbythedirectorofPublic
Health;
• AscientistfromtheDepartmentofStatePolice,appointedbythedirectorofState Police;
• AscientistfromtheEnvironmentalProtectionAgency,appointedbythedirectorofthe
Environmental Protection Agency;
• AscientistfromtheIllinoisEmergencyManagementAgency,appointedbythedirector
of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency;
• AscientistfromtheDepartmentofTransportation,appointedbythesecretaryof
Transportation;
• Alicensedattorney,withexpertiseinscientificevidence,appointedbytheCook
County public defender;
• Alicensedattorney,withexpertiseinscientificevidence,appointedbytheCook
County state’s attorney;
• Alicensedattorney,withexpertiseinscientificevidence,appointedbythestate
appellate defender;
• Alicensedattorney,withexpertiseinscientificevidence,appointedbythedirectorof
the Office of the State’s attorneys appellate prosecutor;
• Alicensedattorney,withexpertiseinscientificevidence,appointedbytheattorney general;
• Anacademicscientistwithanadvanceddegreeinlife,physical,ormedicalsciences
appointed by the attorney general;
• AscientistemployedbytheDuPageCountySheriff’scrimelaboratoryappointedbythe
DuPage County Sheriff’s crime laboratory director; and
• Anacademicforensicscientistwithanadvanceddegreeinthelife,physical,
criminalistic, or medical sciences appointed by the president of the University of Illinois.
173
In addition, the Committee chair may appoint one ex officio member representing private
laboratories, and one ex officio member who is a scientist representing the Northern Illinois
Police Crime Laboratory. The president of the University of Illinois may appoint one ex officio
member to the Committee representing social scientists.
Indiana Commission on Forensic Sciences
(Burns Ind. Code Ann. § 4-23-6-1 et seq.)
The Indiana Commission on Forensic Sciences is a scientific research organization that con­
ducts fee-based research in the various forensic science disciplines and acts as a clearinghouse
for forensic science research and information. The commission’s executive director is a medi­
cal pathologist and its five members are appointed to staggered terms by the governor, as
follows:
• Onepathologist;
• Onelawenforcementprofessional;
• Onecoroner;
• Oneattorney;and
• Thestatehealthcommissioner.
The Commission meets at least once every two months, and is tasked with promoting “sci­
entific information and services” in the various forensic science disciplines. To this end, the
Commission has the power to establish a research laboratory and contract with experts to
conduct scientific research into particular topics of concern. It is authorized to use the servic­
es and facilities of the state department of health, state educational institutions, and hospitals
and other public agencies in conducting its research. The Commission also establishes mini­
mum standards and best practices for medical examiners. The Commission has no enforce­
ment powers, however.
Maryland Forensic Laboratory Advisory Committee
(Md. Code Ann., Health-Gen §§ 17-2A-12; 17-2A-01 et seq.)
The Advisory Committee advises the secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene who licenses
public and private forensic laboratories. As of 2011, all laboratories offering forensic science
services must be licensed by the secretary in order to operate. The authorizing legislation sets
forth licensing requirements and procedures, including the circumstances under which the
secretary can suspend, revoke, or limit a laboratory’s license.
The secretary also adopts regulations that set standards and requirements for forensic labora­
tories. The regulations address the following areas: quality assurance and proficiency testing
programs, document retention, criminalist qualifications, criminalist background and educa­
tion checks, and “any additional standards that the secretary considers necessary to assure
that forensic laboratories provide accurate and reliable services.”
The secretary is granted the authority to inspect those laboratories applying for a license as
well as those which have been granted a license to operate. In addition, the secretary may
investigate complaints and conduct a “validation survey” of accredited laboratories.
174
The Advisory Committee is comprised of ten members serving staggered three-year terms.
Two are:
• ThedirectorofLaboratoriesAdministrationintheDepartmentofHealthandMental
Hygiene;
• ThedirectoroftheOfficeofHealthCareQualityintheDepartmentofHealthand
Mental Hygiene.
The remaining eight, appointed by the governor, are:
• ArepresentativeoftheAmericanSocietyforClinicalLaboratoryScience;
• ArepresentativeoftheUniversityofMarylandSchoolofMedicine,Departmentof
Medical Research and Technology;
• ArepresentativeoftheAmericanAssociationforLaboratoryAccreditation;
• ArepresentativeoftheAmericanAcademyofForensicSciences;
• ArepresentativeofASCLD/LAB;
• Astateforensiclaboratorydirector;
• Acountyforensiclaboratorydirector;
• Amunicipalforensiclaboratorydirector.
Massachusetts Inspector General
(See http://www.mass.gov/ig) The State of Massachusetts relies upon its Office of the Inspector General to conduct investi­
gations into allegations of misconduct at the State Police Crime Laboratory. The mandate of the inspector general is to “prevent and detect fraud, waste, and abuse in the expenditure of public funds.” The inspector general possesses the authority to retain subject-matter ex­
perts as consultants in its investigations. It makes recommendations in its reports, which are equally accessible by the state’s legislative and executive branches, as well as the public. Minnesota Forensic Laboratory Advisory Board
(Minn. Stat. § 299C.156)
The Forensic Laboratory Advisory Board performs three primary functions:
First, the Board is responsible for developing a system by which professional misconduct
or negligence in the state’s forensic science laboratories is reported, and it encourages all
laboratories to report such events. When misconduct or negligence is reported, the Board
assumes an investigatory role. Investigative procedures, including preparation of a written
and publicly-available report, corrective actions, retroactive review of laboratory operations,
and follow-up evaluations of the laboratory are set forth in the authorizing legislation.
Second, the Board encourages laboratories to become accredited by the ASCLD/LAB or another appropriate accrediting body, and monitors accreditation status.
Third, the Board is charged with collecting data on and monitoring evidence analysis turn­
around times in forensic science laboratories. It must also recommend to the legislature
175
case processing guidelines for forensic science laboratories to follow, and proposals for
improvement of turnaround times.
The Forensic Laboratory Advisory Board consists of 12 members, as follows:
• ThesuperintendentoftheBureauofCriminalApprehensionorthesuperintendent’s designee;
• Thecommissionerofpublicsafetyorthecommissioner’sdesignee;
• Thecommissionerofcorrectionsorthecommissioner’sdesignee;
• Anindividualwithexpertiseinthefieldofforensicscience,selectedbythegovernor;
• Anindividualwithexpertiseinthefieldofforensicscience,selectedbytheattorney general;
• AfacultymemberoftheUniversityofMinnesota,selectedbythepresidentofthe
university;
• Thestatepublicdefenderoradesignee;
• Aprosecutor,selectedbytheMinnesotaCountyAttorneysAssociation;
• Asheriff,selectedbytheMinnesotaSheriffsAssociation;
• Apolicechief,selectedbytheMinnesotaChiefsofPoliceAssociation;
• Ajudgeorcourtadministrator,selectedbythechiefjusticeoftheSupremeCourt;and
• Acriminaldefenseattorney,selectedbytheMinnesotaStateBarAssociation.
Missouri Crime Laboratory Review Commission
(Exec. Order 07-16 (June 2007) [Complementary legislation pending: SB 8 (2009)])
In 2007, by executive order, the governor created the “Crime Laboratory Review Commis­
sion” to independently review the operations of crime laboratories in Missouri that receive
state-administered funding. It also acts as an independent investigatory body pursuant to
federal Coverdell grant requirements.
The Commission assesses the capabilities and needs of crime labs and their ability to deliver
timely forensic science services, and makes recommendations for improvement. It authorizes
independent external investigations into allegations of misconduct or negligence affecting
the integrity of scientific results, using outside experts on contract as necessary. It issues
reprimands to crime labs and their employees or contractors found to be negligent or engag­
ing in misconduct, makes recommendations for crime lab procedure when labs are found to
be negligent, and issues reports to the Department of Public Safety summarizing findings of
negligence or misconduct and making recommendations regarding revocation or suspension
of grant funding.
The Commission submits an annual report to the Department of Public Safety and to the gov­
ernor making recommendations to improve quality management systems within the state’s
crime laboratories. [Note: The proposed legislation includes a provision precluding the Com­
mission from making recommendations related to relocation or consolidation of crime labora­
tories.]
176
The Missouri Department of Public Safety has the authority to revoke grant money from a
crime lab if it does not cooperate with the commission or if allegations of serious negligence
or misconduct are substantiated by the Commission.
The Commission is composed of six members appointed by the governor, as follows:
• AseniormanagerofanASCLD/LABaccreditedcrimelab;
• Aprosecutingattorney;
• Acriminaldefenseattorney;
• Acrimevictim’sadvocate;
• Aswornlawenforcementofficeremployedinamanagementposition;and
• ArepresentativeoftheMissouriDepartmentofPublicSafetyoradesignee.
Montana Forensic Science Laboratory Advisory Board
(See www.doj.mt.gov/enforcement/crimelab/default.asp#advisoryboard)
The nine-member Montana Forensic Science Laboratory Advisory Board advises the attorney
general and crime lab administrators on state lab operations. It seeks to facilitate communi­
cation between user agencies and the laboratory, and suggests improvements to laboratory
policies and procedures. The Advisory Board also acts as the designated body to provide inde­
pendent external investigations into any allegations of negligence or misconduct that might
affect the integrity of the lab’s forensic results.
New Mexico DNA Oversight Committee
(N.M. Stat. § 29-16-5)
The state’s DNA Oversight Committee adopts rules and procedures regarding the administra­
tion and operation of the state’s DNA identification system, including the missing persons
DNA identification program, and the sex offender DNA identification system. The Committee
is comprised of nine members, as follows:
• Ascientificrepresentativefromthedepartmentcrimelaboratoryappointedbythe
secretary of public safety;
• Ascientificrepresentativefromthecrimelaboratoryofthepolicedepartmentforthe
largest municipality in a class A county having a population of more than two hundred
fifty thousand at the most recent federal decennial census;
• Thesecretaryofcorrectionsordesignee;
• Thestatemedicalinvestigatorordesignee;
• Theattorneygeneralordesignee;
• Thepresidentofthedistrictattorneysassociationordesignee;
• Thechiefpublicdefenderordesignee;
• ThepresidentoftheNewMexicocriminaldefenselawyersassociationordesignee;
• Theheadoftheadministrativecenterordesignee.
177
New York Commission on Forensic Science
(NY CLS Exec § 995 et seq.)
This Commission is charged with setting minimum standards and developing an accreditation
program for public forensic laboratories operating in New York State. It issues accreditations,
and may review, revoke, suspend, or otherwise limit existing accreditations. The Commission
is authorized to establish minimum qualifications for lab directors and other staff, and
approves scientific methodologies before they are used in a laboratory setting. It sets stan­
dards for quality and maintenance of equipment.
A “DNA Subcommittee” oversees and accredits DNA laboratories, and may issue “binding
recommendations” to the Committee concerning DNA labs. The chair of the DNA Subcom­
mittee is appointed by the chair of the Commission, and the remaining six members of the
DNA Subcommittee are appointed by the chair of the Subcommittee. The Commission, in
conjunction with the DNA Subcommittee, sets policy for New York’s DNA Identification Index,
including standards for determination of a match. It also evaluates all DNA methodologies
used for forensic identification purposes.
The Commission may obtain personnel from other state agencies on a temporary basis to
assist in the performance of its duties, and may establish advisory bodies to provide expertise
on new forensic technologies. The Commission itself is comprised of 14 members. Two are
designated as follows:
• Thecommissionerofthedivisionofcriminaljusticeservices(chair);
• Thecommissionerofthedepartmentofhealth;
The remaining 12 are appointed by the governor, as follows:
• ThechairoftheNewYorkstatecrimelaboratoryadvisorycommittee;
• ThedirectorofaforensiclaboratorylocatedinNewYorkstate;
• Thedirectoroftheofficeofforensicserviceswithinthedivisionofcriminaljustice
services;
• Twoscientistshavingexperienceintheareasoflaboratorystandardsorquality
assurance regulation and monitoring;
• Alawenforcementagencyrepresentative;
• Aprosecutor;
• Apublic-sectorcriminaldefenseattorney;
• Aprivate-sectorcriminaldefenseattorney;
• Twomembers-at-largerecommendedbystatelegislators;
• Anattorneyorjudgewithabackgroundinprivacyissuesandbiomedicalethics.
Rhode Island Crime Laboratory Commission
(R.I. Gen. Laws § 12-1.1-1 et seq.)
This state’s Commission acts as a board of directors for the state crime lab. It establishes
goals, priorities, standards, policies, plans, programs, and budgets for operation of the
laboratory, and monitors the effectiveness of lab operations. It oversees grant and state
178
funding for the lab and approves lab expenditures. The Commission has the authority to
approve or disapprove of laboratory personnel appointments.
The Commission advises the governor and the legislature on matters of scientific criminal
investigation, and submits an annual report detailing its activities and the state of the state’s
forensic science services. It may use the facilities, resources, and personnel of the University
of Rhode Island and other state departments to carry out its mandates.
The Commission is composed of five members, as follows:
• Theattorneygeneral(chair);
• Thesuperintendentofstatepolice;
• ArepresentativeoftheRhodeIslandPoliceChiefsAssociation(appointedbythe
governor); and
• Twopublicmembers(appointedbythegovernor).
Texas Forensic Science Commission
(Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 38.01)
Akin to an inspector general, the Texas Forensic Science Commission is tasked with develop­
ing and implementing a reporting system designed to address professional negligence or
misconduct in public forensic laboratories. The Commission requires all laboratories, facilities,
or entities that conduct forensic analyses to report professional negligence or misconduct to
the Commission, and it conducts follow-up investigations of those reports. The authoriz­
ing legislation details the procedures to be followed in those investigations, and specifies the
format of any resulting report.
The Commission is comprised of nine members serving staggered terms. Four are appointed
by the governor as follows:
• Twopeoplewhohaveexpertiseinthefieldofforensicscience;
• Oneprosecutor;
• Onecriminaldefenseattorney.
Three members are appointed by the lieutenant governor, as follows:
• OnefacultymemberorstaffmemberoftheUniversityofTexaswhospecializesin
clinical laboratory medicine;
• OnefacultymemberorstaffmemberofTexasA&MUniversitywhospecializesin
clinical laboratory medicine;
• OnefacultymemberorstaffmemberofTexasSouthernUniversitywhohasexpertisein
pharmaceutical laboratory research.
Two members are appointed by the attorney general as follows:
• OnedirectorordivisionheadoftheUniversityofNorthTexasHealthScienceCenterat
Fort Worth Missing Persons DNA Database;
• OnefacultyorstaffmemberoftheSamHoustonStateUniversityCollegeofCriminal
Justice and have expertise in the field of forensic science or statistical analyses.
179
Virginia Forensic Science Board
(Va. Code Ann. § 9.1-1109 et seq.)
The Board occupies a role similar to a “board of directors” for the Virginia Department of
Forensic Science (DFS). It monitors DFS operations for effectiveness and compliance with
standards and goals. It enacts regulations to facilitate all statutory duties of DFS, including
the security, privacy, and confidentiality of criminal justice information possessed by govern­
mental entities in the state. The Board establishes fiscal standards and goals for DFS, and
reviews and comments on budgets, grant applications, and appropriations requests. It
conducts long-range planning for the implementation of new scientific techniques, and
advises key state officials in the executive and legislative branches on forensic science and DFS
matters.
The Board is comprised of 13 members (or their designees). Ten are as follows:
• Thesuperintendentofthestatepolice;
• ThedirectoroftheDepartmentofCriminalJusticeServices;
• Thechiefmedicalexaminer;
• TheexecutivedirectoroftheVirginiaBoardofPharmacy;
• Theattorneygeneral;
• TheexecutivesecretaryoftheSupremeCourtofVirginia;
• ThechairoftheVirginiaStateCrimeCommission;
• ThechairoftheBoardoftheVirginiaInstituteofForensicScienceandMedicine;
• TwomembersoftheScientificAdvisoryCommittee.
Three members are appointed by the governor, as follows:
• Alawenforcementprofessional;
• AVirginiaattorney;
• Acriminaldefenseattorneyhavingspecializedknowledgeofforensicsciences.
Virginia Scientific Advisory Committee
(Va. Code Ann. § 9.1-1111)
As a corollary to the Forensic Science Board, the Virginia Scientific Advisory Committee
reviews and makes recommendations concerning scientific protocols, methodologies, and
programs used in the state’s crime laboratories. It monitors and reports on the quality and
timeliness of forensic science services to user agencies.
The Advisory Committee also reviews allegations of misidentification or other error occurring
in the state’s laboratories.
The 13 members of the Advisory Committee serve staggered four-year terms, and are
appointed as follows:
• Thedirectorofthedepartment;
• Adirectorofaprivateorfederalforensiclaboratorylocatedinthecommonwealth;
180
• Aforensicscientistoranyotherperson,withanadvanceddegree,whohasreceived substantial education, training, or experience in the subject of laboratory standards or
quality assurance regulation and monitoring;
• Aforensicscientistwithanadvanceddegreewhohasreceivedsubstantialeducation,
training, or experience in the discipline of molecular biology;
• Aforensicscientistwithanadvanceddegreeandhavingexperienceinthedisciplineof
population genetics;
• Ascientistwithanadvanceddegreeandhavingexperienceinthedisciplineofforensic
chemistry;
• Ascientistwithanadvanceddegreeandhavingexperienceinthedisciplineofforensic
biology;
• Aforensicscientistoranyotherperson,withanadvanceddegreewhohasreceived substantial education, training, or experience in the discipline of trace evidence;
• Ascientistwithadoctoraldegreeandhavingexperienceinthedisciplineofforensic toxicology, who is certified by the American Board of Forensic Toxicologists;
• AmemberoftheBoardoftheInternationalAssociationforIdentification;
• AmemberoftheBoardoftheAssociationofFirearmsandToolmarkExaminers;
• AmemberoftheInternationalAssociationofChemicalTesting;and
• AmemberoftheAmericanSocietyofCrimeLaboratoryDirectors.
Washington State Forensic Investigations Council
(Rev. Code Wash. § 43.103.010 et seq.)
The Council is an oversight and policy body for the state’s Forensic Laboratory Services
Bureau (FLSB). Its concerns focus on the efficiency of the state’s death investigation system
and forensic pathology practices, but the Council also has responsibility for assisting in the
preparation of, and approving, FLSB’s annual budget. In addition, the Council can require
reports from the chief of the Washington State Patrol on matters involving FLSB, and assists
with the selection of state laboratory management.
The Council is comprised of 12 members serving staggered terms, as follows:
• Onecountycoroner;
• Onecountyprosecutor;
• Onecountyprosecutorwhoalsoservesasexofficiocountycoroner;
• Onecountymedicalexaminer;
• Onecountysheriff;
• Onechiefofpolice;
• Thechiefofthestatepatrol;
• Twomembersofacountylegislativeauthority;
• Onepathologistwhoiscurrentlyinprivatepractice;and
• Twomembersofacitylegislativeauthority.
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