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Monday, June 17, 2002

BREAKING NEWz you can UzE...


From the IAI Update -07 Jun 2002 -- The NCFS (National Center for Forensic Sciences) TWG dealing with victims of mass disaster is ready for peer review of their guide book for local agency first responders.  Anyone with comments on this document should direct them to the NCFS, natlctr@mail.usf.edu, P.O. Box 162367, Orlando, FL 32816 or Fax: (407) 823-3162

Odd UK News: Scotland Yard Hunts Thieving Ape  Ananova - 10 Jun 2002  Police dusted my flat for prints, but how will that help catch a chimp?...

New US Proposal Angers Travelers - Washington Post - 12 Jun 2002
CAIRO, Egypt A new US proposal to require fingerprints and photographs from 100,000 foreign visitors each year has provoked anger among foreign business ...

 

Good morning via the "Detail," a weekly e-mail newsletter that greets latent print examiners around the globe every Monday morning. The purpose of the Detail is to help keep you informed of the current state of affairs in the latent print community, to provide an avenue to circulate original fingerprint-related articles, and to announce important events as they happen in our field.

Last week, we saw a pretty interesting AFIS case!  If you didn't have a chance to review last week's Detail, it is available in the Detail Archives.

We are calling this week's topic an e-logue on Certification Propriety:


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A e-logue on Certification Propriety

I have recently been involved in several e-mail discussions which have lead down a path regarding the significance of the title "CLPE" being in jeopardy of being minimized. Basically, the main theme involves concern with people becoming certified as LPE's who are not LPE's and do Not do latent print comparisons. Larger concerns include a conceptual abuse of certification in the US, and even around the world. Certification is held in high regard by all individuals currently discussing the issue via e-mail, but the lack of this same level of regard among other circles are provoking some interesting conversation. As you explore this dialog, (not all has been published) ask yourself where you stand. (the following e-logue does not necessarily represent the views of the employers or organizations with which the e-loguers are associated, but all involved have given permission to reproduce their comments. :)

Kasey:

Should a person that formerly worked in latent prints or conducted latent comparisons and was proficient in latent comparisons that has now moved on to another position where they do no latent print comparisons (Crime Scenes, Firearms, QD, etc...) be permitted to apply for LPE certification?

Steve Howard, Senior Forensic Analyst, O.P.P. Forensic Identification Support Services Investigation Support Bureau :

In my opinion, those that change professions or move into an alternate discipline, shouldn't be allowed to continue as a certified LPE. There should be a stipulation in the rulebook that states the mandate for certification must require that the examiner is actively involved in the fingerprint identification discipline. One they leave, their certification should be relinquished. Fingerprint identification and competency is based on knowledge and ongoing training and above all, experience. That's what I believed CLPE to be about. If someone has moved out of the discipline, then their experience factor becomes stagnant and you lose the most critical component.

Wes Sossomon, SCSA, Clark County Sheriff's Office, Arkadelphia, Arkansas

I think that anyone who applies for certification and/or who holds certification should be conducting latent print examinations as a part of their duties. That is not to say that a person must ONLY do latent print examinations to the exclusion of all others (such as crime scene, etc.), but he or she should be expected to do casework in order to obtain and maintain certification.

Steve Howard:

As a crude analogy, if I chose to study medical science on my own and learned all there is to know about being a doctor, would the medical association allow me to take their exam so I can go out and open up my own practice. Of course they wouldn't and I wouldn't expect them to. They have rigorous standards and guidelines and I would have to go to med school like anyone else. Assuming I pass that, there is also the requisite license that has to be attained and upheld. I'm not sure what the specific guidelines are relating to that but would assume they would still have to be practising in some capacity.

Kasey:

Should CLPE's who move out of active casework be allowed to retain their Certification? (The issue is not directed toward retired CLPE's or those that keep up their proficiency by teaching or still working in the business as consultants.)

Steve Howard:

As far as those LPE's being promoted to supervisor, I believe they should be allowed to do so. They are still working actively in an ident unit and more likely than not, they will be doing quality control over the work of their subordinates which could include comparisons. So their proficiency should be maintained. If not, then that would be reflected in any failure to pass the re-certification test. I do think the re-certification test should be proctored which would prevent solicitation of assistance or another's opinion. Perhaps this would address any concerns in this area.

I have noticed some former examiners using the CLPE letters, but had always assumed they were continuing as an examiner and were maintaining their competency whether attached to an accredited agency or as an independent. Either way, they were actively still engaged in fingerprints to some degree or another, and I don't see a problem with that.

Kasey:

But obviously certification can not be limited to someone who only practices latent print examination...

Wes Sossomon:

I am a certified SCSA and in my particular situation, I conduct crime scene examinations on a routine basis AND I process evidence for latent prints and conduct any subsequent examination relevant thereto. Limiting certification to only those individuals who conduct latent print examinations to the exclusion of any other investigative and/or forensic duties, might sound good at a glance. But, there are many, many qualified people who are in the same boat that I am, especially in smaller departments that have limited resources. Again, in my case, I do latent examinations for ours and other local agencies as well as the state police. This has proven to be much more efficient and expedient in terms of getting cases examined and conclusions reported to the investigating agency. There are only a handful of departments in our state that have a latent examiner, so the others must rely on the latent print section at the state crime laboratory for these services. Just like any other, our state crime lab examiners are overworked, underpaid, and have a constant back-log of cases. For these reasons, it is important that certification be afforded to those of us who routinely conduct latent print examinations in case work and perform other duties as well.

Kasey:

Let's talk about training requirements to maintain certification for a minute... Should crime scene or other police-related training be considered sufficient to apply toward the training requirement for LPE re-certification?

Steve Howard:

Not unless it relates specifically to fingerprint training. (That would be like asking the medical Association to accept my Cub scout first aid badge). I believe that ongoing fpt. training is essential (which includes comparisons) rather than just the ability to find a fingerprint.

Wes Sossomon:

I think the training should be clearly related to latent print examination. This could be training on latent print processing, photography, ridgeology, expert testimony, etc., but it should be within the context of latent print examination. It wouldn't make much sense for a person applying for certification as a forensic biologist who conducts DNA analyses to be allowed to count training in friction ridge skin identification.

Kasey:

I have recently overheard concerns that some individuals may be compiling as many certifications as possible behind their name, just for the effort itself and not to use the skills in casework. What are your feelings on this issue?

Steve Howard:

Every effort should be made by the LP board to ensure that these people cannot do that. Any discussion on this issue should be welcomed and efforts should be made to prevent such abuse.

Wes Sossomon:

I believe that certification is an attestation of an examiner's qualifications by a group of qualified practitioners within the particular field. I don't think the certification examination itself provides a person with any skills or new knowledge, I think it is merely a measure of knowledge and ability according to what the certifying group has determined to be a minimum level of qualifications. The current certification program adequately addresses these concerns by requiring the applicant to disclose his training, education, and experience which are evaluated by the board in order to determine if the applicant is even qualified to sit for the examination. The examination itself, from what I have been able to learn from reading the I.A.I. literature and in talking with many other examiners who have taken the exam, seems to be comprehensive enough to allow a relatively accurate evaluation of a candidate's qualifications. Naturally, there are going to be those who simply are not suited for latent print examinations who fail the exam. There are those who are qualified, have a difficult time at it, but still pass the exam. And, of course, there are those who are exceptional and are able to pass the exam with relative ease. Does this mean that the exam is too easy? I think not. If you look at any testing procedure, I think you will find that this is true in any endeavor. Perhaps incompetence, poor or no preparation, or something like that results in a candidate's failure to pass the exam. Whatever the reason, though, the failure rate of those who take the certification exam is pretty good proof, I think, of the exam's validity in weeding out those who are not qualified. Conversely, failure to successfully pass the certification exam doesn't necessarily mean that the person is not qualified to conduct latent print examinations (except for an erroneous identification on the practical), but I know of no other "sanctioned" process that allows a measure of the examiner's qualifications and proficiency available to any person who desires recognition of their qualifications.

Kasey:

Thank you both for your excellent commentary.
 



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As usual, for informal banter about the weekly Detail, visit
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Until next Monday morning, don't work too hard or too little.

Have a GREAT week!

 

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