Organization Profile - IAI

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International Association for Identification

Year Created: 1915
Mission: Among the objectives laid out by the IAI Constitution, the Association was formed to associate persons who are actively engaged in the profession of forensic identification, investigation, and scientific examination of physical evidence in an organized body, so that the profession, in all of its branches, may be standardized and effectively and scientifically practiced. Its key goals are to encourage research and to provide training, education and the publication of information in all forensic science disciplines that the IAI represents.
Number of Members: Approximately 7,000
Discipline Served: Biometrics Information Systems; Bloodstain Pattern Identification; Crime Scene Investigation; Digital Evidence; Firearm and Tool Mark Examination; Footwear and Tire Track Examination; Forensic Anthropology; Forensic Art; Forensic Laboratory Analysis; Forensic Odontology; Forensic Photography and Electronic Digital Imaging; Forensic Podiatry; General Forensic Disciplines; Latent Prints/Fingerprint Identification/AFIS; Questioned Documents; Tenprint Fingerprint
Headquarters: Hollywood, Florida

To learn more about the International Association for Identification (IAI), we asked President Phil Sanfilippo a few questions about the organization’s past, present, and future.

How has the IAI’s offerings to its membership evolved over the years—and how will it continue to evolve?

From the beginning, the IAI has relied upon its various print publications to communicate with the membership. We have gone from one publication that contained news and peer-reviewed articles, to separate publications for each of these purposes (the peer-reviewed Journal of Forensic Identification and the IDentification News newsletter). Also, the evolution of digital media and the Internet has allowed us to communicate with the membership more efficiently. We have been continuously upgrading our website over the past several years and we continue to do so.

What primary challenges face the forensic science community—and how is the IAI currently working to help its membership meet those challenges?

It is anticipated that Congress will eventually address the recommendations given by the National Academy of Sciences in its 2009 report, Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward. Some of the repercussions of this could include mandated accreditation for forensic service providers, and mandated certification for practitioners. The IAI must be ready to continue its participation in the process both through the Consortium of Forensic Science Organizations (CFSO) and on its own, if necessary. This will be done by providing guidance to those without the knowledge and experience needed to establish guidelines, standards, and protocols.

It is most certain that practitioners in the field will be expected to maintain their professionalism and possibly change the way they have traditionally done their jobs. The IAI will strive to keep the membership up to date through the sharing of information in our publications and by providing training in current and future technologies at our educational conferences. The IAI will also continue to update and provide certification opportunities for practitioners working in the disciplines of forensic identification.

What changes do you see the IAI membership facing in the near future?

Unfortunately, the near future seems to hold financial trouble for many of the agencies that employ our members. Some of our members have lost their jobs due to layoffs, and many have lost funding for training and professional association membership dues. This places a difficult burden on many to continue their membership and participation with the Association. (The IAI has resisted increasing membership fees and continues to provide access to employment opportunities on our website.)

Additionally, members working in the field of latent print identification are already being asked to change the way they testify in court proceedings. As an example, the IAI currently recommends against members asserting 100% infallibility (zero error rate) when addressing the reliability of fingerprint comparisons—and although the IAI does not currently endorse the use of probabilistic models when stating conclusions of identification, members are advised to avoid stating their conclusions in absolute terms when dealing with population issues.

What will the IAI do to help its membership deal with these changes?

The IAI will remain vigilant in offering training in the most up-to-date techniques in the disciplines of forensic identification. The IAI will strive to keep the membership advised of new techniques and discipline-related news through our printed publications. And we will continue to advise members of employment and educational opportunities through the IAI website. We will continue to offer the best certifications in the field, and will strive to develop new programs that will assist our members to do their jobs as best they can.

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