Written by Kristi Mayo   

IN A FIELD that is centered so solidly on science and accuracy, it comes as no surprise that the professionals associated with crime-scene investigation and forensic science are increasingly scrupulous about asserting their qualifications—both in the courtroom and in the workplace.

It is a trend that begins with the laboratories themselves. In the 1980s, forensic laboratories began voluntarily seeking accreditation from the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB). Today, that organization estimates that up to 95 percent of all local, state, and federal forensic laboratories in the United States are accredited by ASCLD/LAB.
In spite of the effort to prove the qualification and efficiency of public forensic labs, most of those accredited facilities do not require their own practitioners to have certifications for their individual areas of expertise. Today, the decision to attain certification remains—for the most part—in the hands of the practitioner.

So some people pose the question: Why should I take the time—and spend the money—to obtain certification in my discipline?
You’ll find the answers to that question in this issue of the magazine:

In a “News from the Field” item (Page 10), John Lechliter writes: “A certification testifies to a professional’s experience and training, and good certifications require professionals to constantly learn about changes in their field. Certification is higher education that doesn’t become outdated.”

In our featured interview (Page 22), Don Wyckoff states: “Nobody likes to take the required tests [for certification]. But by the same token, when you take them you find out what you know and what you don’t know, from the basics of our science to the intricate details.”

And in her review of a new competency test available to latent-print examiners (Page 30), Michele Triplett writes: “Even if agencies do not require [proficiency tests], this is an excellent way for examiners to demonstrate their competence.”

As Triplett’s review goes on to suggest, taking a competency test—or going the next step and acquiring certification in a particular discipline—does more than get you a piece of paper or an acronym to place after your name. It also gives you the self-assurance to say, “It’s okay. I know what I’m doing…”

And when you say it, everyone—your employer, your peers, and the courts—will know you mean it.

Kristi Mayo, editor
Evidence Technology Magazine


March-April 2008 (Volume 6, Number 2)
Evidence Technology Magazine
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ONE OF THE CHALLENGES of writing and editing a magazine is telling a story in a relatively small amount of space. Sometimes it seems like there is never enough room to say everything that needs to be said. I find myself making tough decisions about what parts stay and what parts go.