Science Thursday – September 27, 2012


Colorado develops a new forensic science research center, crime labs in Texas are overcoming backlog, and experts suggest caution with testimony on fingerprint evidence. Here’s this week’s round up of forensic news:


The St. Paul crime lab in Minnesota, which suspended drug testing in July for lack of protocols, is now

under scrutiny for similar issues with its fingerprint analysis

. Currently the lab has “no standard operating procedures or formal protocols” that guide how fingerprints are analyzed.


To overcome a backlog of forensic evidence at state crime labs, the Texas Department of Public Safety will

prioritize the testing of drug and blood-alcohol evidence in felony cases

. As a result, crime labs will only analyze drug and blood-alcohol evidence for misdemeanors if a prosecutor requests a lab report.


The Colorado Mesa University continues building a new Forensic Investigation Research Station that will house research space, labs and classrooms. The new facility,

the fifth of its kind in the country

, will conduct original forensic research including decomposition.


Various legal and science experts across the country are

examining the limits of using fingerprint evidence in court

. As studies are only underway to determine how fingerprints vary within populations, experts suggest that testimony should not guarantee accuracy, provide statistics, or comment on print uniqueness as of yet.


Though the FBI adopted new Rapid DNA technology that allows DNA field testing,

it will be some time before it passes National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) standards

and can be used by public law enforcement. Additionally, the DNA Identification Act of 1994, which only allows accredited labs to test DNA, does not extend to the new technology.

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