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How do latent print examiners perceive blind proficiency testing? A survey of practicing examiners

Conference/Workshop:
American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS)
Published: 2022
Primary Author: Brett Gardner
Secondary Authors: Sharon Kelley, Maddisen Neuman

The current study sought to explore perceptions of BPT among practicing latent print examiners and determine whether such beliefs varied between examiners who work for laboratories with and without BPT. Overall, opinions regarding the value of BPT to accurately assess examiner proficiency varied widely. On a scale from 0 to 10, some examiners described BPT as “completely unnecessary” and others described BPT as “absolutely necessary,” with most examiners considering such testing to be somewhat necessary (M = 6.3). The presentation provides detailed results describing examiner beliefs. In brief, examiners “somewhat disagreed” with the notion that BPT would increase examiner diligence, but endorsed ambivalent beliefs about other aspects of BPT. On average, examiners slightly disagreed with the notion that BPT would improve their testimony experience, and that examiners feel positively about BPT. Examiners slightly agreed that BPT is a valuable use of time/resources and that they are/would be happy to work in a laboratory with such procedures. Approximately 14.8% of examiners indicated that their laboratory implements BPT in latent print comparison. Examiners who work within a laboratory with BPT endorsed more positive beliefs about all aspects of blind testing. As a primary example, examiners who work in a laboratory with BPT view such testing as significantly more valuable in accurately assessing examiner performance than other examiners, t(269) = 5.93, p < .001, d = 1.04. Results also describe the benefits and downsides of BPT. In brief, examiners often indicated that BPT would reduce bias in testing procedures, provide more representative and accurate assessment, and enhance court testimony. On the other hand, many examiners indicated that BPT is logistically challenging and consumes limited time and resources. Results identify differences in identified benefits and downsides among examiners who do and do not work in a laboratory with BPT.

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