The top Evidence Technology Magazine highlights of 2009

AS THE YEAR 2009 draws to a close, I just want to hurry up and turn the page on the year. I am pretty sure it would be safe to say that this has been a tough one for everyone, as the economy is touching every facet of our personal and professional lives. But before I put Volume 7 to bed, I decided to make a Top 5 list of some of the positive—and intriguing—aspects of forensic science that we covered this year. Here they are (in no particular order):

1) The National Academy of Sciences report—When “Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward” was released in February 2009, it met a wall of nervous tension in the forensic-science community (see Evidence Technology Magazine, Vol. 7, No. 2, Page 12). But our chat with Kenneth F. Martin, Chairman of the Board for the International Association for Identification (ETM, Vol. 7, No. 4, Page 14), showed that while there is a lot of work to be done, the sky, indeed, is not falling down around the field of forensic science.

2) Automatic Feature Extraction and Matching—One phase of a study completed this year by the National Institute of Standards and Technology shows that significant progress is being made toward automating one of the most time-consuming portions of latent-print examination. This will be an interesting technology to watch in the next few years. (ETM, Vol. 7, No. 5, Page 22)

3) The Maggot Cover—This is a personal favorite, simply because of the reaction this cover evoked from non-CSI types. This is one of the simple pleasures of being an editor. (ETM, Vol. 7, No. 2, outside front cover)

4) N-DEx—The Law Enforcement National Data Exchange (N-DEx) from the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division is an awesome piece of technology that does something some law-enforcement professionals previously only dreamed about: it links together disparate databases nationwide, making it possible to make connections between seemingly unrelated investigations…and subsequently catch the bad guys. (ETM, Vol. 7, No. 1, Page 10)

5) Clearing DNA Backlogs—Over the last seven years of producing this magazine, I have seen a lot of negative press releases and articles in the media about DNA samples languishing, unanalyzed, in property-and-evidence rooms. But my conversation with Joe Minor, Technical DNA Manager and Special Agent-Forensic Scientist Supervisor for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, showed that not all laboratories are facing those kinds of unfortunate backlogs. (ETM, Vol. 7, No. 5, Page 14)

In addition to these editorial highlights, I must also recognize the people who keep this magazine in operation: our production team, our advertisers, and—of course—our readers. Each person who brings something to this magazine—by writing an article, sending a quick comment by e-mail, buying an ad, or toiling over the puzzle of a layout—is making a contribution far more valuable and important than the very ink that is printed on each page. Without all of you, this magazine would not go in the mail six times a year.

Thank you. And I will see you in 2010.

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Evidence Technology Magazine

"The Top Evidence Technology Magazine Highlights of 2009," written by Kristi Mayo
November-December 2009 (Volume 7, Number 6)
Evidence Technology Magazine
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Forensic Podiatry (Part Two of Two)

THE DISCIPLINE of forensic podiatry—or, in other words, the examination of pedal evidence—has progressed significantly over the past ten years. It is no longer a question of “What can you do with a footprint?” but rather, “Who can we use to evaluate the footprint?” Cases involving pedal evidence, especially bloody footprints and issues of determining shoe sizing or fit issues compared to questioned footwear, have become more common over the past two or three years.