News 03.07.13

Science Thursday – March 7, 2013

The St. Paul crime lab faces more controversy, two federal agencies release a guidebook for preservation of biological evidence, and forensic experts discuss the limitations of certain forensic techniques in the

Austin-American Statesman

. Here’s this week’s round up of forensic news:

 

Though consultants to the troubled St. Paul crime lab have recommended that civilian scientists be hired to run the lab,

the St. Paul Police Federation opposes this change

, arguing that it clashes with the union’s terms and conditions of employment.

 

In Washington, D.C., the lab director of a new, independent crime lab

faced questions from his critics at his first ever annual oversight hearing

.

 

After several years of meetings, a working group co-sponsored by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) will release “The Biological Evidence Preservation Handbook: Best Practices for Evidence Handlers.” It will be a

definitive guide for how law enforcement agencies should handle and store biological evidence

.

 

The Ohio Department of Health warned hospitals that some sexual assault evidence kits

might be contaminated with DNA by those who assembled the kits

. When the provider first started assembling kits, small traces of DNA from handling could not be detected, though advances in DNA technology now make this is possible.

 

In a recent

Austin American-Statesman

article, Cliff Spiegelman and William Tobin discuss how

certain forensic techniques that might be useful during investigations are problematic in court

. These techniques, which include firearm and tool mark analysis and facial reconstruction, involve subjectivity and do not have strong validation studies.

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