All Reports

All of our webinars, reports, podcasts, and other educational resources are available to the public at no cost. Funding for the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence has been provided by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). NIJ is the research, development and evaluation agency of the U.S. Department of Justice.

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Trauma and Coping Mechanisms Exhibited by Forensic Science Practitioners: A Literature Review

Report Date Forensic Science International: Synergy, Volume 2, 2020, Pages 310-316 Abstract Vicarious trauma (VT) has been studied in mental health experts for over 30 years due to their engagement with victims of trauma and exposure to details of events,…
DNA strands in green

NIJ and Rutgers University: Advancing Mixture Interpretation Analysis with NOCIt

Report Date Published September 2020 Introduction DNA samples recovered from crime scenes often contain at least two contributors. Complex forensic DNA mixture interpretation can be challenging and requires computational advancements that support its use. Using forensic probabilistic tools to identify…
Person holding vile

A Landscape Study of Laboratory Information Management Systems for Forensic Crime Laboratories

Report Date Published August 2020 Introduction As a key stakeholder in the criminal justice system, forensic laboratories must track, analyze, and report on evidence related to each request for service they receive.  This is no easy task for laboratories: according…

Terrestrial LiDAR Scanning Working Group for Criminal Justice Applications, First Meeting Report

Report Date July 2020 Introduction On February 27 and 28 of 2020, The National Institute of Justice (NIJ), in partnership with the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE) at RTI International, convened the first meeting of the Terrestrial LiDAR Scanning…
Person holding vile

The National Institute of Justice and the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence’s National Opioid and Emerging Drug Threats Policy and Practice Forum

Report Date July 2020 Introduction The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and its Forensic Technology Center of Excellence hosted the National Opioid and Emerging Drug Threats Policy and Practice Forum on July 18-19, 2019, in Washington, DC. The forum explored…
tire treads and shoe print

National Institute of Justice and Purdue University: Advancing 3D Imaging for Footwear and Tire Impressions

Report Date May 2020 Introduction Impressions of shoe and tire tracks are common types of evidence found at a crime scene that be used to evidentially link a suspect to a crime or generate important investigative leads in a case. However,…
Data points

National Institute of Justice and West Virginia University: Revolutionizing Laboratory Efficiency Assessments Through Project FORESIGHT

Report Date March 2020 Introduction Crime laboratories are expected to provide consistent and high-quality services across multiple domains to criminal justice stakeholders, even though these laboratories may have limited resources and constrained budgets. Operational practices can influence the laboratory’s ability…
Silhouette of two people beside building on fire

Modifications to Capillary Microextraction in Volatiles (CMV) for the Extraction of Ignitable Liquid Residues (ILRs)

– Technical Note: Modifications to Capillary Microextraction in Volatiles (CMV) for the Extraction of Ignitable Liquid Residues (ILRs)  – Report Date April 2020 Description This report summarizes the development and implementation of a novel sampling device (capillary microextraction of volatiles…

The hidden costs of the opioid crisis and the implications for financial management in the public sector

Jeri Ropero-Miller and Paul Speaker   Report Date Volume 1, 2019, Pages 227-238 Abstract The November 2017 release of the Council of Economic Advisers’ White House report on the opioid crisis suggests that prior consideration of expenses severely underestimated the…

2019 National Institute of Justice Forensic Science Research and Development Symposium

This report was published in RTI Press, a global publisher of peer-reviewed, open-access publications on a broad range of topics. The areas of focus reflect RTI’s multidisciplinary research, our expertise in social and laboratory sciences, and our extensive international activities. Since…

DNA Backlog Reduction Strategy: Law Enforcement Agency Partnerships for a Successful Biological Screening Laboratory

NIJ’s FTCoE, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department, and Boca Raton Police Services Department   Report Date November 2019 Introduction Implementing DNA technology in crime laboratories has led to the intensification of backlogged cases and a concomitant pressure to implement backlog…
constellations over glass lab equipment

The NIJ Forensic Laboratory Needs Technology Working Group – Progress to Date and Future Plans

NIJ’s FTCoE and Forensic Laboratory Needs Technology Working Group   Report Date December 2019 Introduction Recognizing the many challenges associated with adopting new technologies and other innovations in forensic science organizations, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) formed the Forensic…
chemical compounds behind glass tube

Best Practices in Novel Psychoactive Substances Testing for Laboratory Practitioners

NIJ’s FTCoE and Center for Forensic Science Research and Education   Report Date September 2019 Introduction New psychoactive substances (NPS) have always presented a challenge to analytical laboratories tasked with identifying drugs in biological and nonbiological material. The pace at…

Juror comprehension of forensic expert testimony: A literature review and gap analysis

Heidi Eldridge Report Date Volume 1, 2019, Pages 24-34 Abstract Forensic scientists and commentators including academics and statisticians have been embroiled in a debate over the best way to present evidence in the courtroom. Various forms of evidence presentation, both quantitative…

Success Story: Enabling Forensic Field Testing with Paper Microfluidic Devices

NIJ and Florida International University Report Date April 2019 Impact “I’m impressed with the potential for replacement wet color tests. The multiplexing capabilities have potential to address the challenges field forensics investigators encounter with non-pure, intermixed drugs as well as…

Success Story: Improving DNA Mixture Interpretation with the Help of Machine Learning

NIJ and Syracuse University Report Date March 2019 Impact “This is something that every DNA crime lab worldwide should investigate. We now have a tool that with the press of one button does the entire suite of services and provides…

Success Story: Advancing 3D Virtual Microscopy for Firearm Forensics

NIJ and Cadre Forensics Report Date March 2019 Impact “High-resolution 3D surface topographies coupled with advanced software analysis are providing firearm examiners unprecedented new tools for microsurface examination.” -Dr. Ryan Lilien, Chief Scientific Officer, Cadre Forensics Click here to read…

In-Brief Report Series: Beyond DNA – Sexual Assault Investigations

Report Series Date January 2019 Introduction The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is committed in their efforts to support scientific advancement, evidence-based practices, and community awareness of our Nation’s sexual assault response. As NIJ’s Director, Dr. David B. Muhlhausen, indicated,…

Success Story: Uncovering Key Details of Skeletal Remains through 3D-ID Software

NIJ and North Carolina State University Report Date January 2019 Impact “3D-ID has been an invaluable tool for us. Many of our unknown persons come from populations south of the Border. We use this program for every case with great…

Process and Outcome Evaluation of Forensic DNA Unit Efficiency Improvement Program

Technical Note Date November 2018 Description A 2009 National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Forensic DNA Unit Efficiency Improvement (EIP) Program solicitation provided crime laboratories’ DNA testing services with a funding opportunity to meet the increasingly numerous requests from the criminal…

A Landscape Study of SOPs to Collect and Process Arrestee and Convicted Offender DNA Samples

Report Date This study is currently being conducted. The project team presented a poster on preliminary findings and next steps at the International Symposium on Human Identification (ISHI) in Phoenix, Arizona on September 24-27, 2018. Description The Forensic Technology Center…

Conference Proceedings: 2016 International Forensic Radiology Research Summit

This report was published in RTI Press, a global publisher of peer-reviewed, open-access publications on a broad range of topics. The areas of focus reflect RTI’s multidisciplinary research, our expertise in social and laboratory sciences, and our extensive international activities. Since…

Strengthening the Medical Examiner–Coroner System Through NIJ-funded Programs: 2018 Medicolegal Death Investigation Stakeholders’ Meeting

Report Date September 2018 Report Summary On February 5–6, 2018, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the research and evaluation agency of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), convened a diverse group of stakeholders from across the United States…

Conference Proceedings: 2018 Impression Pattern and Trace Evidence Symposium

This report was published in RTI Press, a global publisher of peer-reviewed, open-access publications on a broad range of topics. The areas of focus reflect RTI’s multidisciplinary research, our expertise in social and laboratory sciences, and our extensive international activities. Since…

Landscape Study of Field Portable Devices for Presumptive Drug Testing

Report Date May 2018 Report Summary The goal of this report is to inform the forensic community about the current landscape of field portable devices and techniques used for presumptive drug testing. This report also contains a discussion of the…

Conference Proceedings: 2018 Research and Development Symposium

This report was published in RTI Press, a global publisher of peer-reviewed, open-access publications on a broad range of topics. The areas of focus reflect RTI’s multidisciplinary research, our expertise in social and laboratory sciences, and our extensive international activities. Since…

Success Story: Maximizing the Use of Mitochondrial DNA in Identifying Remains and Aiding Missing Persons Casework

NIJ and the American Registry of Pathology Report Date April 2018 Impact “The complete mtGenome reference data developed in this project serve as important milestones for the understanding of coding region heteroplasmy and the acceptance of full mtGenome sequencing in…

Success Story: NIST’s Dogs and Sensor Subcommittee Builds on Achievements by SWGDOG

NIJ and Florida International University Report Date April 2018 Impact “SWGDOG set the stage and provided a strong foundation of canine detector best practices that the OSAC Dogs and Sensor Subcommittee is currently developing into scientifically robust standards. The Subcommittee…

Success Story: Establishing a “Microbial Clock” to Improve Time of Death Prediction

NIJ and Multi-Institute Academic Team Report Date April 2018 Impact “This research clearly demonstrated that there is potential to develop microbiome tools for estimating time of death. Developing connections with the right interdisciplinary collaborators was instrumental to the success of…

Applied Polarized Light Microscopy for Trace Evidence Examiners

REPORT DATE April 2018 REPORT SUMMARY Polarized light microscopy (PLM) is a technique commonly used in the field of forensic science. PLM characterizes and identifies trace evidence found at crime scenes, such as fibers, hairs, paints, and glass fragments. This…

Statistical Interpretation Software for Friction Ridge Skin Impressions (FRStat)

REPORT DATE April 2018 REPORT SUMMARY The Defense Forensic Science Center (DFSC) developed FRStat in response to criticisms from legal and scientific commentators on the lack of an empirically demonstrable basis to substantiate conclusions in pattern evidence. This tool is…

Success Story: Forensic Epigenetics – Markers for the Identification of Body Fluids

NIJ and Florida International University Report Date February 2018 Impact “Our laboratory is excited about DNA epigenetic markers as they offer the possibility of an objective confirmation of what cell type the DNA profile is originating from. If proven, the…

Success Story: Advancing the Forensic Analysis of Ignitable Liquid Fuel Fires

NIJ and JENSEN HUGHES Report Date February 2018 Impact “Dr. Gottuk’s work has reduced the number of inaccurate arson determinations based on low burns and holes in the floor. It has even played a role in reversing some wrongful convictions…

Familial DNA: A series of reports released by the National Institute of Justice [2017]

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) published several reports related to Familial DNA in August 2017. The topics of these reports include Studies of Familial DNA Searching Policies and Practices-Case Studies, Studies of Familial DNA Searching Policies and Practices – National…

Detection of Organic Gunshot Residue Using Capillary Microextraction of Volatiles with Cryofocusing

Technical Note Date July 2017 Purpose Researchers at Florida International University’s (FIU’s) International Forensic Research Institute evaluated the capability of capillary microextraction of volatiles (CMV) to extract the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that constitute organic gunshot residue (OGSR) on the…

Evaluation of Existing Technologies for Novel Analysis and Probabilistic Interpretation of Organic Gunshot Residue

Technical Note Date July 2017 Purpose   Firearms exposure has traditionally been monitored by screening for the presence of inorganic particles prevalent in gunshot residue (GSR). These inorganic compounds are associated with the primer in ammunition. Recent research efforts have…

2017 National Institute of Justice Forensic Science Research and Development Symposium

This report was published in RTI Press, a global publisher of peer-reviewed, open-access publications on a broad range of topics. The areas of focus reflect RTI’s multidisciplinary research, our expertise in social and laboratory sciences, and our extensive international activities. Since…

Reports of Adverse Events Associated with Use of Novel Psychoactive Substances, 2013–2016: A Review

This article was published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology and authored by Barry K. Logan, Amanda L.A. Mohr, Melissa Friscia, Alex J. Krotulski, Donna M. Papsun, Sherri L. Kacinko, Jeri D. Ropero-Miller, Marilyn A. Huestis. This work was developed, in…

2016 National Institute of Justice Forensic Science Research and Development Symposium

This report was published in RTI Press, a global publisher of peer-reviewed, open-access publications on a broad range of topics. The areas of focus reflect RTI’s multidisciplinary research, our expertise in social and laboratory sciences, and our extensive international activities. Since…

Conference Proceedings: 2015 Impression, Pattern, and Trace Evidence Symposium

This report was published in RTI Press, a global publisher of peer-reviewed, open-access publications on a broad range of topics. The areas of focus reflect RTI’s multidisciplinary research, our expertise in social and laboratory sciences, and our extensive international activities. Since…

Organizing and Transferring SANE/SAFE/SART Knowledge and Best Practices

Overview At the request of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE) coordinated a comprehensive Federal effort to organize and transfer knowledge and best practices of sexual assault nurse examiners, sexual assault forensic examiners,…

In-Brief: Applying Internal Validation Guidelines for Expanded STR Loci Kits

Report Date January 2017 Report Summary The familiar ‘13 Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) core loci’ expanded to ‘20 CODIS core loci’ as mandated by the FBI on January 1, 2017. Because of this FBI mandate, participating CODIS laboratories will need…

A Guidance Document on the Forensic Application of Massively Parallel Sequencing

Report Date December 2016 Purpose This report describes the fundamentals of massively parallel sequencing (MPS) for the application to forensic analysis. Also included within this report is a comprehensive summary of the webinar series which discussed the strength of the technology…

A Landscape Study of Mobile Evidential Breath Alcohol Instruments

Report Date December 2016 Purpose This report provides a landscape of select mobile evidential breath alcohol instruments and factors impacting their implementation and use. Specifically, this report provides decision-makers and potential end users with the following: 1) an overview of the…

A Landscape Study of Federal Investment in Forensic Science R&D

Report Date December 2016 Purpose Federal government involvement in forensic science improvement has accelerated in recent years. Federal investments have transformed DNA capacity and demonstrated the power of scientific advances to address criminal justice challenges. In its 2009 report, Strengthening Forensic…

State Forensic Science Commissions

Report Date November 2016 Purpose State commissions focus on communication and collaboration among laboratories and stakeholders, allocation of resources, laboratory improvements, promulgation of accreditation and certification standards, investigations into misconduct or professional negligence in crime laboratories, and other implementation and oversight…

A Validation and Evaluation of Magneto-Optical Imaging Technology

Report Date August 2015 Purpose This report shares findings of an operational, in-field evaluation to recover erased markings in actual firearms. Report Summary Serial Numbers are removed from firearms in an effort to prevent tracking. MO sensor technology is a non-destructive…

In-Brief: Organic GSR Analysis for Potential Shooter Determination

Report Date May 2015 Report Summary Through the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE), West Virginia University (WVU) evaluated emerging approaches for the detection of gunshot residue (GSR) based on organic materials in the residue. One…

Organizing and Transferring SANE/SAFE/SART Knowledge and Best Practices

Report Date November 2014 Participants Various researchers, Federal stakeholders, and practitioners from the SANE/SAFE/SART community. Report Summary At the request of the National Institute of Justice, the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE) leads a comprehensive federal effort to organize and…

A Landscape Study of Handheld and Portable Raman Spectrometers

Report Date September 2014 Report Summary This report provides a “landscape” view of the issues and products associated with field portable Raman spectrometers for the identification of powders, liquids, gels, or tablets. The document is intended to furnish law enforcement, first…

An Evaluation and Utility Assessment of Magneto-Optical Sensor Technology

Report Date March 2014 Report Summary The discovery of more effective methods to detect and restore erased markings in firearms is of great interest to firearm examiners, in particular the invention of new non‐destructive methods. Magneto optical (MO) sensor technology may…

A Landscape Study of Mobile ID Fingerprint Devices

Report Date January 2014 Report Summary This report provides a “landscape” view of the issues and products associated with mobile devices for fingerprint identification, with a focus on forensic applications. The document is intended to furnish laboratory managers and investigators with…

A Technical Evaluation of Crime Scene Imaging Technologies

Report Date December 2013 Purpose This report discusses the specific results of the evaluation and considerations that an agency should make when deliberating the adoption of a panoramic imaging technology. Report Summary Digital crime scene documentation has become an essential component…

A Landscape Study of DNA Mixture Interpretation Software

Report Date October 2015 Purpose Practical applications and implementation strategies for adoption of a DNA mixture interpretation software tool to assist with the challenges of complex mixture interpretation and statistical analysis. Report Summary Due to the influx of complex mixture…

2014 TechBeat Articles Featuring the FTCoE

Short Tandem Repeat Study Released Issue: Nov/Dec 2014 Page: 27 Click here to read the article Magneto-Optical technology shows promise in “Unerasing” Serial Numbers Issue: Sep/Oct 2014 Pages: 21-24 Click here to read the article Report Provides Insight Into Mobile ID Fingerprint Technology Issue: Jul/Aug 2014…