A Layman's Guide to Forensic Science

The National Forensic Science Technology Center (NFSTC) has launched a new website, funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, that makes it easy to communicate and understand the what, why, and how of forensic science.

ForensicScienceSimplified.org is a straightforward guide to forensic science that walks non-scientists through the key disciplines that are crucial to today's investigative and judicial process.

Articles were developed with the help of noted experts on topics from firearms examination to video enhancement. In all, there are 11 different forensic disciplines explained on the site, with more currently in the works. Each section presents the principles behind the techniques, approaches for discovering and collecting evidence, and an overview of how it's enhanced and processed once it gets back to the lab.

The Simplified Guide also clears up common misconceptions about what the science can and can’t accomplish. This free online resource is a valuable guide for police officers, attorneys, educators and the general public.

“In today’s courtroom, where jurors increasingly expect forensic evidence to be presented, it’s helpful for officers of the court and other non-scientists to have a trusted, free resource that explains the basics of forensic science in easily understood terms,” said Kevin Lothridge, CEO of NFSTC.

To make it easy and enjoyable to navigate, the site is built using “responsive” web design that automatically adjusts to your smartphone, tablet or desktop computer.

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Interview with an Expert

One of the more specialized areas of crime-scene investigation has to do with searching for evidence of arson. To get some background in this area, we spoke with an individual who has had more than 46 years in fire service, 24 of which have focused specifically on fire/arson investigation.