mend such programs (see Chapter 7). Continuing professional development also is a means of expanding expertise and career advancement.

Training Needs

As described by ASCLD:

When a new analyst or examiner is hired, usually a recent university graduate, that individual requires initial training to build competency. The length of the initial training provided to an analyst depends upon the laboratory specialty area the trainee will enter.

For example, controlled substance analysts may require only six to twelve months of training. Those training in experience-based disciplines such as latent prints examinations, firearms and toolmarks analyses, and questioned documents examinations may require up to three years of training before being permitted to perform independent casework. During their training period, individuals in experience-based disciplines serve much like an apprentice to a senior examiner.44

NIJ describes a variety of training needs for forensic scientists in crime laboratories by position.45 For operational scientists, training is needed to stay up to date in theoretical and practical issues (such as applying methods and performing analyses). Everyone in a laboratory needs orientation in such topics as the criminal justice system, the legal system, ethics, professional organizations, the basic philosophy of forensic science, overview of disciplines of forensic science, quality control (e.g., good laboratory practice), effective expert testimony, and safety. First-line supervisors need training in quality assurance, case file review, and basic supervision skills; and managers need training in fiscal management, quality systems management, leadership, project management, human resource management, and customer service. Training can be done in-service or through short courses. The 1999 NIJ report identifies a number of examples of such courses.

On-the-job training involves specific challenges; it is labor intensive and can be expensive.46 The costs of training include the salary of the trainee as well as the opportunity cost of the lost productivity of the trainer. Moreover, there are no uniform recommendations on the content of training in the forensic science disciplines. ASCLD has suggested some examples of efforts to make training more efficient, including conducting some training in conjunction with universities (essentially conducting training while forensic


ASCLD, op. cit., p. 15.


NIJ, 1999, op. cit.



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