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THE DEVELOPMENT OF NEW TECHNOLOGY is all about sidestepping common problems and making a job easier and the results better. In this issue, our cover story (on Page 16) focuses on such a scenario: Those working in computer forensics are aware of a relatively new technology that allows an entire operating system to run on a CD or DVD. But because these so-called “live CDs” do not store data on the computer’s hard drive, they leave behind no trace of information for examiners to recover. The article offers a practical solution to that problem, along with useful and in-depth background information that explains how live CDs work. It is an example of technology working to overcome problems created by technology.

Technology, however, is not always the answer to everyday problems. Sometimes the answer lies in communication. In this issue’s Friction Ridge column (on Page 8), John Black provides a few analogies that will help jurors and judges better understand what fingerprint examiners mean when they refer to “sufficiency”. The analogies are simple and straightforward. It proves that sometimes you just need to step back, take a look at a challenge from a different perspective, and work to use the right language to help others get a firm grasp on your area of expertise.

The Association for Crime Scene Reconstruction (ACSR) is engaged in similar work with its new Crime Scene Reconstruction Standardization Committee and Shooting Reconstruction Standardization Committee. The goal of these groups is to draft glossaries of terms commonly used in those fields. In the ACSR profile (on Page 4), the organization states: “This is the first comprehensive effort to standardize terminology in these disciplines and will provide a valuable resource to all crime scene and shooting reconstruction practitioners.” The effort will help make communication easier between practitioners, jurors, and judges—and will address the continued push for standards in the forensic science disciplines.

Even as technology changes and proliferates (see the Tool Kit on Page 6 and the article on close-range photogrammetry on Page 10 for examples of evolving crime scene reconstruction technology), the next few years will continue the trend of a back-to-basics approach to forensic science. Latent print examiners will take a closer look at the way they communicate with jurors, professional organizations will establish more standards and certification programs for practitioners, and the field as a whole will work to define seemingly simple terms such as “laboratory” and “scientist”. These are trends that are on our editorial radar, and we look forward to bringing you those stories—along with the latest inventions, techniques, and tools—in 2012.

Happy Holidays, and best of luck in the New Year,
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Evidence Technology Magazine

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Lifting Latent Fingerprints from Difficult Surfaces

ALMOST ANYONE can find, process, and lift a latent print that happens to be in a logical and obvious place like a door handle, a beer can, or a butcher knife. But sometimes, a latent print is not just sitting there in a logical and obvious place. Sometimes, you have to use your imagination to find the print and your skills to lift it.