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Latent Print Proficiency Testing: An Examination of Test Respondents, Test-Taking Procedures, and Test Characteristics.

Journal: Journal of Forensic Sciences
Published: 2019
Primary Author: Brett O. Gardner
Secondary Authors: Sharon Kelley, Karen D.H. Pan
Research Area: Latent Print

Proficiency testing is a key component of quality assurance programs within crime laboratories and can help improve laboratory practices. However, current proficiency testing procedures contain significant limitations and can be misinterpreted by examiners and court personnel (Garrett & Mitchell, 2018). To evaluate some of these limitations, we surveyed latent print examiners (n = 198) after they completed a Collaborative Testing Services, Inc. proficiency test. Additionally, we evaluated test performance and used a quality metric algorithm to evaluate the quality of test prints. Results do not suggest that respondents are dissimilar to the broader examiner population, although they may engage in different behaviors when completing tests versus casework. Findings show that proficiency testing contains prints of high quality and is perceived as both relatively easy and representative of casework. The test discriminated between inexperienced and experienced respondents, and verification procedures were largely ineffective in reducing errors. Objective quality metrics may provide a path forward to improving proficiency testing in a measurable manner.

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