The Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE) is leading an effort to organize and transfer knowledge and best practices of sexual assault response to the criminal justice community. Whether through webinars, podcast episodes, reports, or conferences, the FTCoE is working to address the systemic challenges that impede the investigation of criminal sexual assaults in the United States.

The organization of education materials for those responding to and investigating criminal sexual assault is a major component of our efforts toward sexual assault response reform. In that respect, the Fact Sheets below were designed to feature webinars and additional resources related to specific topics within the sexual assault response reform movement. Click on the icons to open, download, print, and share these fact sheets with SANEs/SARTs, investigators, first responders, and anyone else who could benefit from having access to this information.

 

 

 

 

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 reduction strategies. This report distills the challenges and long-term results of a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office (PBSO) 2009 National Institute of Justice grant-funded DNA
backlog strategy to construct a centralized biological processing laboratory (BPL) at the Boca Raton Police Services Department (BRPSD) and is still used today with some enhancements. The BPL strategy had three goals:

1) Provide expedient serological screening results to the three largest, southern-most Palm Beach County law enforcement agencies (LEAs), including the Boynton Beach Police Department (BBPD), Delray Beach Police Department (DBPD), and BRPSD.
2) Prioritize prescreened crime scene evidence for DNA analysis by providing the evidence to the PBSO Forensic Biology Unit (FBU).
3) Demonstrate a sustainable approach to reduce DNA backlogs by creating a model for other jurisdictions.

Click here to read the full Report

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 unknown powders.” —Dr. Michael Buerger, PhD, Professor of Criminal Justice, Bowling Green State University, and former New Hampshire police officer

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Links

McCord Laboratory

FTCOE Webinar: Paper Microfluidic Devices for Fieldable Forensic Testing

TEDx talk

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 you with the end result. Having the simple decisions made for you enables focus on addressing the issues of most importance.” —Vic Meles, Marketing & Business Director, NicheVision

Click here to read the full report

Links

NicheVision

PACE: Probabilistic Assessment for Contributor Estimation— A machine learning-based assessment of the number of contributors in DNA mixtures. Forensic Science International: Genetics, 2018.

A hybrid approach to increase the informedness of CE-based data using locus-specific thresholding and machine learning, Forensic Science International: Genetics, 2018.

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 justice community. The purpose of the 2009 EIP was to encourage crime laboratories to implement novel ideas and processes that would provide a measurable, significant, and sustainable way to meet the needs of national DNA programs. This article focuses on the final outcomes of an award received by the Palm Beach County Sherriff’s Office (PBSO). The NIJ support of an approved and implemented plan involving interagency cooperation between three jurisdictional law enforcement agencies (LEAs) within Palm Beach County has resulted in the successful and efficient establishment of a centralized biological pre-screening laboratory (BPL) for DNA evidence prior to submission to the county’s forensic laboratory for DNA testing.

Click here to read the full technical note

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 of Excellence (FTCoE) is conducting a landscape study and root cause analysis which seeks to (1) identify factors that may result in potential barriers related to the collection, testing, and uploading of arrestee and convicted offender samples and (2) identify successful polices and highlight key recommendations and suggested best practices related to the collection, testing, and uploading of these samples. Although many jurisdictions have policies and standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the collection, testing and upload of lawfully owed DNA samples in response to legislation, it is possible that gaps in design and overall disconnects in communication and data work flow, may result in the inability to effectively uphold the requests of the legislation.

Report Date

November 2017

Report Summary

The Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE) hosted the Rapid DNA Technology Forum in Alexandria, VA on August 15–17, 2017. Rapid DNA technology has advanced quickly over the past several years, with the development of commercially available systems that produce DNA profiles, which include the expanded Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) panel, and the introduction and passage of the Rapid DNA Act of 2017. This in-brief report provides an overview of rapid DNA analysis, the purpose of the forum, forum highlights, and the impact of the forum on the community.

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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 methodology could replace traditional serological approaches to body fluid confirmation.” -Mark Powell M.Sc., F-ABC Crime Lab Manager, San Francisco Police Dept.

Click here to read the full report

Learn more about how a National Institute of Justice (NIJ) award (2012-DN-BXK018) contributed to the development of epigenetic markers in forensic casework.

Report Date

January 2018

Report Summary

The goal of this report is to provide the reader with a basic understanding of alternate light sources (ALS), as well as their use, benefits, and limitations. The information contained herein is derived from current literature and interviews with both users and technology developers, providing a thorough assessment of the considerations that will impact procurement, training, and use of ALS. This report also contains product tables highlighting the variety of ALS devices available for purchase.

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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 Survey of CODIS Laboratories Brief, Understanding Familial DNA Searching: Coming to a Consensus on Terminology, and Understanding Familial DNA Searching: Policies, Procedures, Potential Impact, Summary Overview.

These resources have not been published by the U.S. Department of Justice. These resources are being made publicly available through the Office of Justice Programs’ National Criminal Justice Reference Service. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.


Study of Familial DNA Searching Policies and Practices – Case Study Brief Series
Michael B. Field, Saniya Seera, et al.

Study of Familial DNA Searching Policies and Practices – National Survey of CODIS Laboratories Brief
Michael B. Field, Sara Debus-Sherrill

Understanding Familial DNA Searching: Coming to a Consensus on Terminology
Emily Niedzwiecki, Sara Debus-Sherrill, et al.

Understanding Familial DNA Searching: Policies, Procedures, and Potential Impact, Summary Overview
Sara Debus-Sherrill, Michael B. Field