IAI Approved Training
There are two primary domains of knowledge that support the validity of the latent print discipline: 1) science demonstrating the discriminating power of friction ridge impressions and 2) science demonstrating trained analysts are capable of providing accurate conclusions. While many analysts learn this information as part of training, they often struggle articulating complex concepts for the trier of fact.
This intense five-day course will review key concepts and research underlying both domains that can be used to support latent print admissibility. The instructor will facilitate discussions and mentor attendees. Attendees will devise testimony-style questions and answers and practice testimony. A few comparison exercises are provided during the week to reinforce the academics. Additionally, a court case illustrating real-world application of these testimony methods is woven throughout the week. The content of this course is organized into four blocks that logically build on one another to promote learning. Each block is reinforced with a testimony practical.
The cost for this course in the United States and Canada is $695 USD per student (the rate will be adjusted to accommodate taxes if applicable). For inquiries outside of the United States and Canada, please contact the instructor at Alice@EvolveForensics.com.
What to Expect in This Course
Approximately 4 weeks prior to the course, attendees will receive an email link to a folder on the Evolve Forensics Microsoft OneDrive account (OneDrive is similar to Google Drive). In this folder, attendees will find the source material (except textbooks) that provide the basis for the lecture content. This is provided in the event attendees would like to review specific topics prior to the course. This is NOT required reading for the course; it is simply reference material. This same material is provided to each attendee on the first day of class on a thumb drive. Alice will introduce or summarize most of this reference material throughout the week. Attendees will also receive a notebook containing a print-out of the lecture slides. The slides are printed 2 slides per page with plenty of room to take notes.
The class will be divided into teams of 3-5 people per team, depending on class size. After each major block of instruction (see blocks below), each team will be in command of writing testimony-style questions and answers covering the concepts from each block. Each person will be ultimately responsible for “testifying” to one or more concepts within each block; however, the development of the questions and answers is shared. Team mates can help each other find the best way to articulate the concepts to a jury.
The questions and answers will be captured in a word processing program (similar to Microsoft Word) on a tablet provided by the instructor. After the groups complete their questions and answers at the end of each block, Alice will review the questions and answers in the evening and provide feedback to each group the following morning. There will be one hour for the groups to review the feedback, consult with Alice and fellow students, and finalize the questions and answers for the block.
After the feedback session, each group “takes the stand” as a group. Alice will ask each group their own questions and each member will practice verbalizing the answers to their assigned questions. The group is permitted to take the tablet to the stand and read the prepared responses. Why? The goal of the class is not to memorize answers, but to encourage attendees to think about good questions and answers and practice saying the words out loud. Please note that those attendees who walked into class fearful of the practicals have walked out of class enjoying the process. This has been for two primary reasons: 1) safety in numbers by testifying as a group and 2) feedback process ensuring understanding of the material and accurate responses.
At the end of the week, each group has a complete set of testimony-style questions and answers that cover the entirety of the material in this course; each group then shares. This means each person walks out of the class with: 1) reference material for the course, 2) instructor slides summarizing the course material, and 3) multiple ways to approach testimony for the various concepts supporting the admissibility of latent print evidence. Well worth the price of admission!
The blocks of instruction are as follows (please see the course syllabus for detailed information):
Block 1: Empirical Observations and Theoretical Knowledge
There is an extensive history of empirical observations supporting the use of friction ridge impressions to identify individuals. Layered behind these empirical observations is the theoretical causation: developmental noise. Attendees will learn how developmental noise during fetal development of friction ridges imparts the discriminating power to the friction ridge arrangements. Attendees will also learn the causation for persistency of the arrangement of the mature friction ridges: homeostasis. Attendees will prepare and verbally answer questions to lay foundation for the acceptance of fingerprint evidence based on empirical observations and biological concepts.
Block 2: Twin Studies and Statistical Models
Scientists have attempted to measure the uniqueness of fingerprints using minutia for well over a century. Attendees will learn about model making in science and the recommended elements of a robust fingerprint model. Attendees will learn about selected twin fingerprint studies, historical fingerprint models, pattern and minutia distribution studies, and modern statistical studies. The basic premises and limitations of selected models will be introduced. Attendees will prepare and verbally answer questions to lay foundation for the acceptance of fingerprint evidence without a specific statistical fingerprint model.
Block 3: Vision Science and Fingerprint Expertise
The human visual system is complex, but it does follow basic rules and it does learn when a person is repeatedly exposed to visual stimuli (i.e. fingerprints). Attendees will be introduced to basic concepts in human vision, theories of experts and expert performance, studies regarding visual expertise in fingerprint analysts, and the explicit and implicit learning that takes place during a training program. Attendees will prepare and verbally answer questions to lay foundation for why an untrained person (e.g. a jury) lacks the requisite expertise to interpret or make inferences from friction ridge comparisons.
Block 4: Error Rates and Quality Management
Recent studies have demonstrated the reliability (and variability) of fingerprint experts’ decisions. Attendees will be introduced to selected error rate studies, including PCAST’s use of confidence intervals to estimate rates. Attendees will also discuss the checks and balances within a quality management system that enhance analyst performance. Attendees will prepare and verbally answer questions to lay foundation for the acceptance of fingerprint evidence based on the accuracy and reliability of the analysts and the aspects of a quality management system that support analysts’ performance in casework.