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Crime Lab Proficiency Testing and Quality Management

Type: Webinar
Research Area: Latent Print

In the wake of recent reports documenting the vulnerability of forensic science methodologies to human error (e.g., NAS, 2009; PCAST, 2016), the field has sometimes pointed to proficiency testing as evidence of disciplines’ validity and/or reliability.  However, current proficiency procedures have been criticized on multiple fronts, with some scholars calling for blind proficiency testing (e.g., Koehler, 2008; 2013).  The Houston Forensic Science Center (HFSC) is a local government corporation that provides forensic services to the city of Houston and surrounding areas.  In 2015, HFSC adopted recommendations for blind proficiency testing by implementing a blind quality control program.  The program has expanded to include almost all units within the laboratory.  The objective of the program is to supplement mandatory proficiency tests as well as to provide real-time assessment of analysis procedures, determine areas of improvement, and ensure that stakeholders are receiving accurate and reliable results.  This webinar will detail the origin, maintenance, and benefits of HFSC’s blind quality control program within the Latent Print Comparison section.  HFSC personnel will also describe obstacles to the implementation of the program and feasible solutions.  CSAFE and HFSC are working closely to improve the blind program and use collected data to inform the larger field of forensic science.

By the end of this presentation, participants will be able to:

  1. Identify and discuss the need for quality management beyond traditional proficiency tests.
  2. Describe how one laboratory successfully implemented a blind quality control program, using the latent print comparison unit as an illustrative example.
  3. Identify hurdles, and solutions, to the implementation of a blind quality control program.

Presenters:  Brett Gardner, Sharon Kelley, & Daniel Murrie,  University of Virginia
                          Maddisen Neuman, Callan Hundl, Rebecca Green, & Alicia Rairden, Houston Forensic Science Center

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