Competency assessment is vital to ensure that a crime scene investigator has the skills and understanding to process a crime scene properly. For the first time, online crime scene skills assessments using virtual scenes and tools are available outside Australia, where they have been a testing standard for almost a decade. The National Forensic Science Technology Center (NFSTC), headquartered in Largo, FL, hosts and manages the online tool.
“After the Fact has provided our jurisdiction with an easy-to-use and cost effective means to conduct proficiency testing of our investigators which meets the requirements of our accreditation,” says Detective Senior Sergeant Harris of the New South Wales Police Force in Australia.
Proficiency testing is critical in forensic science to ensure protocols and procedures are performed correctly and consistently and skills are maintained. Laboratories and agencies seeking to achieve or maintain ISO certifications are required to use regular assessments to ensure a high standard of performance and quality, and crime scene investigators are no exception.
After the Fact (AtF), at www.csi-skills.com, is a comprehensive assessment testing tool for law enforcement. Each assessment covers seven criteria critical to successful crime scene investigation:
• Initial assessment
• Securing the scene
• Exhibit/evidence collection
• Case management knowledge
AtF allows the investigator to “walk through” a virtual crime scene and complete tasks including photography, note taking and evidence collection. When the scene work is complete, the investigator takes an assessment about the scenario using only their knowledge of CSI and the notes and evidence they gathered. A range of scenes are available to test approach and capabilities for both major and property (volume) crimes. Every crime scene is different, but protocol, procedures and approaches to the scene need to be consistent.
“There’s been a reluctance to use online learning, but that’s changing as new technology allows for realistic and secure testing environments,” says Kevin Lothridge, CEO of NFSTC. “Agencies don’t have to recreate scenes or take supervisors out of the field to do these assessments. AtF saves money and time.”
AtF has long been the assessment and testing method of choice in Australia, and is now available for law enforcement agencies, universities and other practitioners world-wide. Assessments are $250 and available at www.csi-skills.com.
The National Forensic Science Technology Center (NFSTC) provides quality forensic services including training, consulting, technology evaluation to the justice, forensic science and defense communities. NFSTC is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation headquartered in Largo, Florida. www.nfstc.org