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Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward
which the lack of funding keeps top scientists away and their unavailability discourages funding agencies from investing in forensic science research. Traditional funding agencies have never had a mission to support forensic science research.
STATUS OF TRAINING
Continuing education and in-service training in forensic science have been significant issues for many years. Funding programs initially were offered in the early 1970s through the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration. As forensic science grew, the needs for ongoing training and continuing education also grew. Several studies funded by NIJ have been undertaken since 1999—Forensic Sciences: Review of Status and Needs (1999); 40Education and Training in Forensic Science: A Guide for Forensic Science Laboratories, Educational Institutions, and Students (2004),41 developed by TWGED; and a report prepared by ASCLD for NIJ, published in May 2004, which has become known as the 180-day Study Report: Status and Needs of United States Crime Laboratories.42
The issues addressed in all of these reports are the same ones confronting this committee today, namely the need for continuing education and the ongoing training of working examiners in the various disciplines:
Prior to conducting analysis on evidence, forensic scientists require both basic scientific education and discipline-specific training. To be in compliance with widely-accepted accreditation standards, scientists in each of the disciplines must have, at a minimum, a baccalaureate degree in a natural science, forensic science, or a closely-related field. Each examiner must also have successfully completed a competency test (usually after a training period) prior to assuming independent casework.43
After the initial training period, continuing training is necessary to maintain and update knowledge and skills in new technology, equipment, and methods.
Accreditation and certification programs require some type of continuing education, and the various Scientific Working Groups (SWGs) recom-
National Institute of Justice. 1999. Forensic Sciences: Review of Status and Needs. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice.
National Institute of Justice. 2004. Education and Training in Forensic Science: A Guidefor Forensic Science Laboratories, Educational Institutions, and Students. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice.
American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors. 2004. 180-day Study Report: Statusand Needs of United States Crime Laboratories. Largo, FL: ASCLD.