SWGDRUG has produced guidelines for quality assurance protocols, methods of analysis and identification of seized drugs, and education and training materials for forensic practitioners. Quality assurance guidelines emphasize the integrity and storage of evidence, the validation and documentation of procedures, and the verification of standards. Among SWGDRUG’s recommendations for education is a requirement that entry level forensic drug analysts possess at least a bachelor’s degree in a natural science, with coursework in general, organic, and analytical chemistry. Guidelines on methods and analyses categorize analytical techniques into three groups, according to discriminating ability: “A” techniques are deemed the most discriminating, and “C” techniques are considered the least discriminating. For the purposes of identifying substances, SWGDRUG recommends the use of at least one “A” technique and one other additional test for validation. When an “A” technique cannot be used, at least two uncorrelated “B” tests and one additional method are suggested. SWGDRUG also has released supplementary documents to assist in implementing these guidelines.
The FBI established SWGGUN in 1998 and has continued to fund the initiative in subsequent years. Subcommittees of a 20-member board draft guidelines in conjunction with external experts. Guidelines are posted on the SWGGUN Web site for public comment before the board finalizes the recommendations with an affirmative vote by two-thirds of the members present at a meeting.c Currently, SWGGUN offers guidelines on trigger pull analysis, education and experience requirements for firearm and toolmark examiners and trainees, laboratory training manuals, laboratory quality assurance programs, the range of possible conclusions when comparing toolmarks, projectile path reconstruction, and the examination of silencers. The SWGGUN website also offers an “admissibility resource kit,” which offers arguments intended to satisfy the prongs of the Daubert standard.
Since 1996, SWGMAT has been issuing voluntary guidelines addressing trace evidence, including hair comparison. Quality assurance guidelines, published in 2000, advise that two examiners separately analyze samples and suggest minimum levels for training and qualifications for examiners and laboratories. Hair comparison guidelines, published in 2005, address techniques for collecting hair samples, examining and interpreting protocols for microscopic examination, and using DNA testing in hair analysis. Notably, the use of DNA testing of hair is advised only after an initial microscopic analysis is conducted. In contrast to the larger forensic science community’s recent interest in blind testing and statistical verification, SWGMAT proposes the following approach: The examiner should consider what meaning can be attached to an exclusion or association based upon