Organization Profile - IABPA

Miss the photos and figures?
View, read, share, save, and print this article
as it appeared in the print edition now, online!

International Association of Bloodstain Pattern Analysts

Year Created: 1983

Stated Mission: Promoting education, establishing training standards, and encouraging research in the field of bloodstain pattern analysis.

Number of Members:
More than 900

Disciplines Served:
Bloodstain pattern analysis

Headquarters: Tucson, Arizona



To learn more about the International Association of Bloodstain Pattern Analysts (IABPA), we spoke with the current president, Todd A. Thorne, about plans the organization has for its future.

Does the IABPA offer certification in bloodstain pattern analysis (BPA)?

Currently, no, but we are in the process of putting together and completing our own BPA certification. Our membership is very strongly supportive of having our own certification process. They don’t want to go somewhere else—they want to go to the entity that deals with bloodstain pattern analysis. The research portion of creating the certification has been completed. That will be brought to the general members at our annual meeting in October. From there, we will determine whether we are going to put together another committee to start developing the test.

How does the IABPA encourage and support research in this special discipline?

Research is very important in all of the disciplines of forensic science. To that end, we have the Daniel Rahn Memorial Grant, where we award up to $3,000 to enable research and presentation of that research to the BPA community. The grant provides funds for start-up of a research project, plus we assist the researcher in traveling to the IABPA conference to present their research findings. This year, we had two applicants. We would like, some day, to grow this grant, to be able to disperse more funds, and to attract 50 applicants or more. The purpose of the grant is to honor the memory of Dan Rahn and to honor the things that he believed in.

Describe the challenges being faced by BPA experts.

First, over the last five to ten years, we have battled daily with the CSI Effect. It’s not just bloodstain pattern analysis—it’s many disciplines in forensic science that are dealing with this. Crime isn’t solved in 45 minutes. There is protective gear that is worn, and there is education involved; it is laborious, sometimes painful work that can take years to solve. So I have seen advancement in interest and advancement in education. It has been an honor to be involved in an organization that has been pivotal in that movement.

How can BPA members overcome potential challenges presented by the CSI Effect and the 2009 NAS Report?

I think the most important thing is to know your limitations. Know your experience and education level. Prepare yourself for court. Know what it is that you’re going to testify about. Have a pretrial conference with the defense or the prosecution. Communication is very important.

Do you foresee any major changes that the IABPA membership will face in the near future?

I think the economy is going to affect what we do. Are we going to need to try to do it faster with less equipment because the money is not there to buy these things? I think people are already feeling that—and have felt it for years—but now it’s even worse.

Networking is an important part of any professional organization. Describe opportunities for communication and mentoring that exist within the IABPA.

Right now, we do not have a formal mentoring program. That is something that I, as president, would really like to get formalized. Currently, law enforcement does probably 85 percent of all BPA. And many, many of our members are not just bloodstain pattern people. Many of them do fingerprints, DNA, and just about any other discipline you can think of. So it becomes very important for bloodstain pattern analysts to have someone to call when they need help. In the IABPA, there are many of us who are always available and continually get phone calls regarding casework. I believe that mentorship is very important.

< Prev   Next >

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.