Research Paper: Staffing a New Crime Laboratory

Pages: 4 (1688 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Criminal Justice  ·  Buy This Paper

Staffing a New Crime Laboratory

The forensic science has grown with the growth in technology. From the fictitious Sherlock Holmes who could identify the part of London from where the visitor came, to modern investigation of genetic components, science has traveled far. There are still lots of loose ends and the profession has to be always open for improvement. Scientist certification and laboratory accreditation is one of the methods that are used to assure quality. "Certification is the process by which individual practitioners of a profession are deemed competent by a peer review process to practice that profession.' Thus the professions that may harm the public and change the course of society require proper certification. These include lawyers, teachers, architects, accountants, and so on. Of paramount importance is the certification of medical specialists. Medicine was and is closely associated with criminal investigation. For criminalistics a 'Certification Study Committee' called the 'Criminalistics Certification Study Committee' -- CCSC in 1976 prescribed the standards and qualifications for the operations in forensic chemistry; "Firearms and/or tool mark identification; Forensic Serology; Particulate Evidence; Imprint Evidence; Generalists, and any other specific study." (Mihalovich; Matheson, 2009) This later branched off to the certification and the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors -- ASCLD with the aim of creating competent personnel standardized the measure relating to professional levels of knowledge, skill and abilities. (Mihalovich; Matheson, 2009)

Certification is a process mandatory for the whole system and the personnel operating it. Therefore one of the fundamental requirements of the system is to have the best equipments and also the best personnel for the system. Co-joint with that the management must take care of standards with using up-to-date procedures for which certifications provide proper impetus. There are thus multiple requirements for setting up a new laboratory.

Requirements for setting up the laboratory:

The financial outlay for the whole project will determine the procedures and the type of the lab. Therefore budgeting takes prominence over all other considerations. Budgeting will be based on the needs of the laboratory and these must correspond to the technical work performed in forensic laboratories. The forensic laboratories must have a space ratio based on area per staff member. The 'Laboratory Design Standards and Modules' with ample flexibility must be constructed. Most laboratories have identical characteristics and these can be standardized. However characteristics that are considered unique to that laboratory and the redesign must take these needs into consideration. Some things are common like illumination at per 92.90 m2 and 25% lighting for the following spaces: "All technical laboratory, examination, and investigation spaces." (U.S. Department of Justice, 1998) Likewise "each laboratory section will identify various non-laboratory work spaces .and must be separate room or on benches in main laboratory space." (U.S. Department of Justice, 1998) the implications involved in this are multifarious and are requirements that any laboratory must meet not only to be efficient but also be legal.

Implications

There are special laboratories that undertake forensic science work for the 'Criminal Justice System' and a stringent quality management system must be in place for various activities that include Police procurement: "where the forensic science providers must have the international quality standard ISO 17025 accreditation for all 'tests' performed on their behalf." (Forensic Access, 2011) the entire activity is now controlled by the Forensic Science Regulator: who is charged with the task of setting "scientific quality standards." (Forensic Access, 2011) in Europe the laboratories requires ISO 17025 accreditation for 'laboratory activities', and other like DNA and fingerprints, and thus developing, implementing and maintaining quality management systems based on the types of forensic science activities envisaged for the lab determines the standardization type and the preparation of documents like "quality manuals, quality policies and procedures, forms, methods documentation, standard operating procedures." (Forensic Access, 2011)

The next task is the setting up of record keeping systems, audit and review, customer feedback, and a system for obtaining a continuous improvement and management and creation of the best technical methods. There can be different set of standards for complicated work. For example, in the testing of DNA, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as a "Quality Assurance Standards for Forensic DNA Testing Laboratories" and "Quality Assurance Standards for Convicted Offender DNA Databasing Laboratories," the DNA testing or utilizing the Combined DNA Index System -- CODIS shall follow to ensure the quality and integrity of the data generated by the laboratory. Thus DNA laboratory must have received formal recognition and meets the requirement of the Federal DNA Identification Act (42U.S.C. § 14132) or subsequent laws. Accuracy and consistency with laboratory policies and for editorial correctness are part of the requirements. (CSTL, 2000) Certification Companies like the ASCLD/LAB would perform the audit of the lab facilities following a very detailed procedure that begins with lead management and ensuring compliance for every component of the laboratory. (ASCLD/LAB-International, 2010) Getting such accreditation have become a market necessity and also a good business practice.

Personnel & Capabilities

The laboratory relies on a good management -- that means the forensic manager and the manager is responsible to create and maintain the quality assurance procedures and constantly verify the quality of the work product of their laboratories. (the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors, 1994) Therefore a well trained manager with management degrees or proven capabilities is a must. Such a person must not only be able to get on with the functions expected but must be quality conscious and also be a motivator in motivating the operational staff as to quality and proper procedures for investigation. He or she must be great at liaison and communication and must be at home with latest gadgets and technology. It is the performance of the staff. That creates quality work. Thus the managers and staff must have the best academic qualifications or experience and the ability to implement by understanding the scientific principles for work in a forensic laboratory. Thus laboratory managers must make sure that employee fully understands the principles, "applications and limitations of methods, procedures and equipment they use before beginning case work." (the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors, 1994)

It is also very important because the laboratory will get its clientele on the basis of its reputation which is largely determined by the capabilities of the lab's analysts and the standards they keep. This means that a thorough analysis of the subjects under study is necessary for the proper analysis of the incidents, which means apart from being mere testers the personnel have to have training in thought, physiology and psychology. Criminal labs deal with deviant behaviors and therefore their analysis has to match the concepts in vogue in these matters. Though it can be considered for many psychological conditions, the physiological aspect of behavior as well as the psychological aspect can centre on the deviance and deviant behavior. Though the studies need not seek the reasons of such deviance, one of the important aspect of the study is the labeling of the deviant act and thus the act is said to personally deviate from a "group's normative expectations, and it elicits interpersonal or collective reactions that serve to 'isolate,' 'treat,' 'correct,' or 'punish' individuals engaged in such behavior." (Jones, 1977) These concepts have to be incorporated into the lab's functions which means that the personnel ought to be learned in many fields and also have a social responsibility. Therefore staffing is a very important aspect that must evolve a method of getting at the ideal staff through a thorough testing and/or other proper recruitment processes. Insistence on proper qualifications and attitude thus is a part of recruiting. There must also be a facility for conducting research and enhancing the qualifications of staff, including refresher courses degree and higher studies in allied subjects, and innovation facilities. Thus the major component of the overall system design is… [END OF PREVIEW]

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