Crime Scene Investigator Network

Crime Scene Investigator Network Newsletter

JUNE 2017
This month's newsletter is brought to you by the 2017 CSI Academy

Do You Have What It Takes to be a
Forensic Fingerprint Examiner?

National Institute of Standards and Technology

Being a forensic examiner seems glamorous on TV. But working in a crime lab requires long hours of intense focus that are anything but action-packed. This is especially true for fingerprint examiners, who must focus on minute visual details that would leave most people cross-eyed. It's not a job for everyone.

Finding the right people to fill these jobs is critical because they help ensure that criminals are brought to justice and that innocent people are not wrongly accused. Especially as forensic science degree programs produce an increasing number of jobseekers, crime lab managers need tools to identify the most promising among them.

Do you think you have the right mix of skills and temperament to be a high-performing fingerprint examiner? If so, read on, and take the interactive quiz by clicking on the button at the bottom of this article.

The questions in that quiz were developed by experts, with support from NIST, to test visual pattern-matching abilities. As part of this effort, in the fall of 2016, NIST sponsored a Workshop on Personnel Selection in the Pattern Evidence Domain of Forensic Science. This workshop, which brought together forensic professionals, cognitive scientists and industrial psychologists, was hosted by the National Academy of Sciences Board on Human Systems Integration.

"The goal is to identify individuals who are better at pattern recognition tasks than your average Joe," said Melissa Taylor, a research manager at NIST who focuses on reducing the potential for errors and bias in forensic analysis. Taylor's program is part of a larger NIST effort to strengthen forensic science in the United States.

Currently, Taylor says, when lab managers fill entry-level positions, they base their hiring decisions on college transcripts, job interviews and writing samples. Those are important, but they don't shed light on pattern-matching skills specifically.

NIST does not administer tests to applicants, but hopes to provide lab managers with testing tools.

In addition to helping lab managers, such tests can also help aspiring forensic examiners know if the field is right for them. "If applicants only know about the job through television shows like "CSI, they might not have a realistic picture of what's involved," Taylor said.

Forensic science has come under increased scrutiny lately, most recently in a report from the President's Council of Advisors for Science and Technology (PCAST). Among other things, the PCAST report called on research scientists to develop automated, computer-based methods that can efficiently and accurately analyze fingerprints and other pattern evidence. So, if the field is heading toward automation, why bother creating a test for human examiners?

For one, it will take several years before scientists develop fully automated systems, and in the meantime, human examiners will be doing the work.

In addition, fingerprints collected at crime scenes are often distorted, degraded, or have complicated backgrounds. "There will always be difficult cases that require human analysis," Taylor said. "In the future, automated systems may be able to handle the straightforward comparisons, allowing human examiners to focus on the most complex cases."

The next step for this project, Taylor said, is to develop an online test with input from industrial and organizational psychologists. She also hopes to pilot a testing program in partnership with a large laboratory.

You might be one of the people that those laboratories are looking for. If you're a potential job applicant with an interest in forensic science, or even if you're just interested in testing out your pattern-matching skills, take the quiz by pressing the start button below.

The eight sample questions get progressively more difficult as you go. At the end, you'll see the correct answers with explanations. Your answers are not recorded; this quiz is just for fun.

< Take the quiz >

This Month's Featured Resource on the Crime Scene Investigator Network Website

The idea of The Fingerprint Sourcebook originated during a meeting in April 2002. Individuals representing the fingerprint, academic, and scientific communities met in Chicago, Illinois, for a day and a half to discuss the state of fingerprint identification with a view toward the challenges raised by Daubert issues. The meeting was a joint project between the International Association for Identification and West Virginia University. One recommendation that came out of that meeting was a suggestion to create a sourcebook for friction ridge examiners, that is, a single source of researched information regarding the subject. This sourcebook would provide educational, training, and research information for the international scientific community.
<View the Publication>

New CSI and Forensic Job Announcements

The most comprehensive listing of Crime Scene Investigation and Forensic
employment opportunities on the internet! We typically have over 200 current listings!

To be notified of job openings as they are posted, follow us on Twitter: Job Posting Alerts
or sign up for daily email alerts: Daily Job Posting Alert Emails

Crime Scene Specialist
Round Rock Police Department, Round Rock, Texas, USA

Final Filing Date: July 5, 2017
Documents the scene using photographic and video equipment; attends and photographs autopsies; organizes photographs taken by others; maintains the integrity of digital images. Processes scenes for latent prints; properly identifies and collects items of evidence; maintains chain of custody.
<View complete job listing>
Crime Scene Technician
Grand Rapids Police Department, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

Final Filing Date: July 11, 2017
This is technical work responsible for locating, identifying, and collecting evidence at crime scenes. Technical and scientific procedures are utilized to process and prepare the evidence for laboratory submission and court presentation.
<View complete job listing>
Forensic Scientist I-III (Drug Analysis)
Texas Department of Public Safety, Houston, Texas, USA

Final Filing Date: July 3, 2017
Performs a variety of complex, independent laboratory tests, analysis, classifications, comparisons and identifications of all types of physical evidence from crime scenes with emphasis and specific recognized expertise in an optional or specialty area identified above.
<View complete job listing>

Property and Evidence Technician
Buckeye Police Department, Buckeye, Arizona, USA

Final Filing Date: Open until filled
plan, organize and participate in a variety of tasks associated with the identification, collection, receipt, handling, tracking, preservation and release of crime scene evidence in support of law enforcement activities.
<View complete job listing>
Latent Print Examiner
Corpus Christi Police Department, Corpus Christi, Texas, USA

Final Filing Date: June 30, 2017
Conduct high quality biometric examinations in the area of friction ridge analyst; including comparison of latent fingerprint, palm prints, and footprints using ACE-V (Analyze, compare, evaluate - verify) methodology for the purpose of identifying criminals, non-criminals and questions of identity.
<View complete job listing>
Medicolegal Investigator
Dane County Medical Examiner, Madison, Wisconsin, USA

Final Filing Date: July 31, 2017
Investigates deaths, determines jurisdiction, and reports case and scene findings to assist the Medical Examiner in determining the cause and manner of death.
<View complete job listing>

Search for more job listings in Crime Scene Investigations and Forensics
<Crime Scene Investigator Network Employment Listings>

To be notified of job openings as they are posted, follow us on Twitter: Job Posting Alerts
or sign up for daily email alerts: Daily Job Posting Alert Emails

Featured Video Presentation
On our Video Presentations page:

Developing Latent Fingerprints with Magnetic Powder

Watch this video to learn how to develop fingerprints using magnetic powder.

<Video Presentations>

Other Resources on the Crime Scene Investigator Network Website
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