Crime Scene Investigation

All of our webinars, reports, podcast episodes, 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.

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Evaluation of Purdue University’s 3D Imaging Prototype for Footwear and Tire Impressions

Date September 2022 Overview Supported by two National Institute of Justice (NIJ) awards (2016-DN-BX-0189 and 2019-R2- CX-0069), Dr. Song Zhang and his research team at Purdue University led the development of a fully automated 3D imaging system for footwear and…
question marks and silhouettes

2022 National Forensic Science Week Ask an Expert

← Back to Main Page Overview The FTCoE has conducted a variety of written interviews with forensic professionals in various forensic science disciplines. From digital evidence to trace analysis and medicolegal death investigation to DNA analysis, the FTCoE showcases real-world…

FLN-TWG: Updating Data Collection for Digital Evidence Casework in Project FORESIGHT

← Back to FLN-TWG Main Page  Forensic Laboratory Needs Technology Working Group (FLN-TWG) The National Institute of Justice (NIJ), in partnership with the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE) at RTI International, formed the Forensic Laboratory Needs Technology Working Group…

Guidance Document on Considerations for Photographic Documentation in Sexual Assault Cases

Date August 2022 Overview Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs) are medical professionals with specialized training and expertise in medicine, psychology, and forensic science and are qualified to conduct sexual assault forensic examinations. During the sexual assault forensic examination, SANEs may…
drugs and border patrol

Narcotic Concealment Methods in U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Emergence of Counterfeit Tablets Containing Fentanyl in the United States

← Back to Unseen Threats Webinar Series This webinar originally occurred on May 26, 2022 Duration: 1 hour Overview With nearly 6,000 miles of border to patrol and screening passengers and cargo at over 130 airports, seaports, and land border…
vaping and smoke

Electronic Cigarettes: A Tangle of Regulation, Public Health, and Public Safety Issues

← Back to Unseen Threats Webinar Series This webinar originally occurred on May 24, 2022 Duration: 1 hour Overview While modern electronic cigarettes (ECIG) were invented as an effective alternate method for nicotine delivery, the unregulated cannabis industry and recreational…
test tubes and scientists

Things Are Not What They Seem: A Collection of Interesting Case Studies from the Medical Examiner Scene Queens

← Back to Unseen Threats Webinar Series This webinar originally occurred on May 19, 2022Duration: 1 hour Overview With the rise of illicit fentanyl, fentanyl analogues, synthetic cathinones, xylazine, and other substances adulterating many traditional street drugs, users often have…

Terrestrial LiDAR Scanners: Guidelines for Use in Criminal Justice Applications

This webinar originally occurred on May 3, 2022Duration: 1 hour Overview Terrestrial LiDAR scanning devices (also known as terrestrial laser scanning devices, TLS) acquire complex geometric data that capture a three-dimensional representation of a scene. This technology can be used…
pills and IV

Unseen Threats: A Webinar Series from the AAFS Opioids and Emerging Drugs Ad-Hoc Committee

Overview This webinar series is based on the one-day workshop (“Unseen Threats”) that was sponsored by the Opioids and Emerging Drugs Ad-Hoc Committee at the 2022 American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) Annual Meeting. To follow up on this workshop,…

Guidelines for the Use of Terrestrial LiDAR Scanners in Criminal Justice Applications

Date March 2022 Overview Terrestrial LiDAR scanning devices (also known as terrestrial laser scanning devices, TLS) acquire complex geometric data that capture a three-dimensional representation of a scene; this technology is used in criminal justice applications such as documenting a…
brain, DNA, bloodstain

Human Factors in Forensic Science Practice Sourcebook

Publication Forensic Science International: Synergy, March 2022 Editors Heidi Eldridge, PhD | RTI International Barbara A. Spellman, JD, PhD | University of Virginia School of Law Thomas Busey, PhD | Indiana University, Psychological and Brain Sciences Working Group Members Paul…
fire and cogwheels

Development of an Extraction Technique for Ignitable Liquid Residues (ILR) in the Field using Capillary Microextraction of Volatiles (CMV) and Person-Portable GC-MS

← Additional Portable Instrumentation for On-Scene Fire Debris Analysis Resources Date February 2022 Overview The work in this report is an extension of the capillary microextraction of volatiles (CMV) application (M. Torres et al., 2020) by Florida International University, reported…
fire, smoke, gas

Evaluation of Capillary Microextraction of Volatiles (CMV) Coupled to a Person-Portable Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer (GC–MS) for the Analysis of Gasoline Residues

← Additional Portable Instrumentation for On-Scene Fire Debris Analysis Resources Publication Forensic Chemistry, March 2022 Authors Michelle N. Torres | Florida International University José R. Almirall | Florida International University Abstract A novel dynamic headspace extraction device, the capillary microextraction of…
video screen

Capturing Key Research Outcomes Using Short Video Vignettes: A Guidance Document

Date February 2022 Author David Matthew | David Matthew LLC, Wichita, Kansas Overview This document outlines the process of designing engaging video vignettes to disseminate results from complex research projects in a manner that is easily digestible by practitioners. More…
fire & testing

The Field Application of GC/MS For Fire & Arson Investigations Video Series

← Additional Portable Instrumentation for On-Scene Fire Debris Analysis Resources Overview The purpose of this project was to design engaging video vignettes to disseminate results from a complex research project. The project team developed a guidance document that specifically describes…

Portable Instrumentation for On-Scene Fire Debris Analysis

Overview The use of field portable instrumentation, including portable gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC/MS) and photoionization detection, for on-scene fire debris analysis can allow for more efficient scene processing and a reduction in the amount of evidence sent for confirmatory…

Virtual Workshop: Understanding Sexual Assault Trauma and Considerations for Conducting a Trauma-Informed Interview

Overview Due to the successful response and engagement received from the Just Science podcast episode titled “Just Trauma-Informed Victim-Centered Interviewing” from the 2021 Research and Considerations for Sexual Assault Cases season, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and the Forensic…

U.S. National Footwear Database System Feasibility Study

This webinar originally occurred on February 15, 2022. Duration: 1 hour Overview Shoeprints at crime scenes, along with suspects’ footwear, are routinely collected and analyzed by qualified examiners in crime laboratories and forensic units to identify, include, or exclude suspects’…
gun & evidence

A Unique Approach to a Crime Gun Intelligence Center with the Inclusion and Support of 3D Virtual Comparison Technologies

This webinar originally occurred on February 10, 2022. Duration: 1 hour and 30 minutes Overview Any effective Crime Gun Intelligence Program relies on the expeditious processing of firearms-related evidence to achieve the goal of intelligence led firearms-based investigations. The possible…
US and forensic science disciplines

2021 Forensic Science Research Federal Stakeholders Public Meeting

Overview The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), in partnership with the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE), held a Forensic Science Research Federal Stakeholders meeting on November 8, 2021 from 9:00AM…
question marks and silhouettes

2021 National Forensic Science Week Practitioner Interviews

← Back to Main Page Overview The FTCoE has conducted a variety of written interviews with forensic professionals in various stages of their careers. From recent graduates to retired professionals, the FTCoE showcases real-world perspectives on the current state of…

2021 National Forensic Science Week FTCoE Student Research Poster Session

← Back to Main Page Overview  As fall semesters are getting back into session and in honor of the upcoming National Forensic Science Week (September 19-25, 2021), the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE) would like to highlight student research…
microphone and headphones

Just a Cost Benefit Analysis of Sexual Assault Investigation

Original Release Date: August 6, 2021 In episode four of our Research and Considerations for Sexual Assault Cases season, Just Science sat down with Dr. Rachel Lovell, Research Assistant Professor at Case Western Reserve University, and Mary Weston, Assistant Prosecuting…
microphone and headphones

Just Trauma-Informed Victim-centered Interviewing

In episode three of our Research and Considerations for Sexual Assault Cases season, Just Science sat down with Natasha Alexenko, Jordan Satinsky, and Marya Simmons to discuss trauma informed, victim-centered interviewing for sexual assault cases.    A sexual assault victim’s experiences with law enforcement and advocates…
arrows pointing to circle with footwear tread

Image Quality and Clarity: The Keys to Forensic Digital Image Processing

This webinar originally occurred on August 3rd, 2021Duration: 1 hour The ability to accurately and reliably analyze and compare forensic digital images relies on two key elements: image quality and image clarity.  Most forensic examiners understand that resolution plays a…
hand touching hexagons

Working Group on Data Exchange in Medicolegal Death Investigation

Working Group on Data Exchange in Medicolegal Death Investigation The National Institute of Justice and its Forensic Technology Center of Excellence convene the Working Group on Data Exchange in Medicolegal Death Investigation in collaboration with and supported by the Centers…
microphone and headphones

Just Forensic Anthropology and Forensic Pathology Portfolio

Original Release Date: June 18, 2021 In episode three of our 2021 NIJ R&D and Beyond mini season, Just Science sat down with Danielle McLeod-Henning, a physical scientist and program manager in the Office of Investigative and Forensic Sciences at NIJ, to discuss Forensic Anthropology and Forensic Pathology.   Danielle McLeod-Henning has been the physical…
microphone and headphones

 Just the Impression and Pattern/Trace Evidence Portfolio

Original Release Date: June 11, 2021 In episode two of our 2021 NIJ R&D and Beyond mini season, Just Science sat down with Dr. Gregory Dutton, a physical scientist in the Office of Investigative and Forensic Sciences at the National Institute of Justice, to discuss NIJ’s Impression, Pattern, and Trace…

Evidence Collection and Analysis for Touch Deoxyribonucleic Acid in Groping and Sexual Assault Cases

Report Publication Journal of Forensic Nursing, April 2021 Introduction Historically, evidence collection in sexual assault cases focused on obtaining foreign contributor bodily fluids through swab collection. With improvements in deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) analysis methods, DNA profiles can be developed from touch…

Introduction to Touch DNA Evidence for Sexual Assault Groping Cases Video Series

Overview: The Importance of Touch DNA Evidence in Sexual Assault Groping Cases video series is presented by Dr. Julie Valentine and Heather Mills as a companion to the Journal of Forensic Nursing article entitled “Evidence Collection and Analysis for Touch…
Burning building/scientist collecting evidence

Advancing Fire Scene Investigations with Field Portable Technologies

← Additional Portable Instrumentation for On-Scene Fire Debris Analysis Resources This webinar originally occurred on April 6, 2021. Duration: 1 hours and 30 minutes Overview This multi-year effort evaluated the application and limitations of field portable Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) systems.  The testing…
Bloodstain pattern and a ruler

Lessons Learned from Proficiency Test Results in Bloodstain Pattern Analysis

This webinar originally occurred on April 15th, 2021 Duration: 1 hour The Daubert ruling by the Supreme Court established “the known or potential rate of error” as one of several factors to be used when assessing the scientific reliability or…
microphone and headphones

Just Identifying Fingerprints Through Photographs

In episode six of the Case Studies season, Just Science sat down with Karen Oswald, Senior Evidence Specialist with the Suffolk County Police Department in New York, to discuss methods for identifying fingers and hands captured in evidentiary photos. As cellphone and camera technologies continue…
microphone and headphones

Just the Impact of Disturbing Media

In episode eight, Just Science interviews Dr. Kathryn Seigfried-Spellar from Purdue University about the impact of disturbing media on forensic professionals. Repeated exposure to violent and graphic media can have long-term negative effects on digital forensic examiners. Dr. Kathryn Seigfried-Spellar is researching the connection between disturbing media and the examiners who analyze it every…

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…
fire and hexagon tiles

Comparison of Portable and Benchtop GC–MS Coupled to Capillary Microextraction of Volatiles for the Extraction and Analysis of Ignitable Liquid Residues

← Additional Portable Instrumentation for On-Scene Fire Debris Analysis Resources Publication Forensic Chemistry, June 2020 Authors Michelle N. Torres | Florida International University Nicole B. Valdes | Florida International University José R. Almirall | Florida International University Abstract A novel…
microphone and headphones

Just Applied Leadership for Resiliency in CSIs

 In this special release episode of Just Science, we sat down with Ashley Church and Erin West, founders of Gap Science, to discuss stress and resiliency in crime scene investigators.  Traumatic death investigation can have adverse, long-term effects on crime scene analysts.  As Ashley Church and Erin West moved through…
fire burning on second floor of building

Ventilation Limited Fires: Considerations for Fire Pattern Analysis

Wednesday, June 10th, 2020 1:00:00 PM ET – 2:00:00 PM ET Duration: 1 hour(s) During the past decade, the UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute has conducted research examining fire-fighting tactics.  This research found that factors such as construction materials, contents,…
microphone and headphones

Just Skeletal Remains Identification

In episode two of the 2020 R&D Season, Just Science interviews Dr. Heather Garvin, Associate Professor of Anatomy at Des Moines University, about her work with OSTEOID, an online resource for species identification of skeletal remains.  Approximately 30-40% of cases involving skeletal remains received by forensic anthropologists end up being…
Silhouette of two people beside building on fire

Modifications to Capillary Microextraction in Volatiles for the Extraction of Ignitable Liquid Residues

← Additional Portable Instrumentation for On-Scene Fire Debris Analysis Resources Date March 2020 Overview This report summarizes the development and implementation of a novel sampling device (capillary microextraction of volatiles ) invented in the Almirall research group at Florida International…

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…
Blood spatter on a white wall

Communicating Conclusions in Bloodstain Pattern Analysis

Wednesday, December 11th, 2019 1:00:00 PM ET – 2:30:00 PM ET Duration: 1.5 hour(s) The results of a bloodstain pattern analysis are communicated through written reports and courtroom testimony.  Principles of communication science will be discussed and explained to develop…
a bullet being fired from a revolver

Rapid and Effective Identification of Organic and Inorganic Gunshot Residues

Wednesday, November 20th, 2019 1:00:00 PM ET – 2:30:00 PM ET Duration: 1.5 hour(s) Forensic laboratories and law enforcement personnel provide valuable support in the reconstruction of events and the assessment of the value of evidence in firearm-related investigations. The…
scientist measuring bruises under blue and green lights

Detection and Visibility of Bruises Using Alternate Light: From Science to Practice

Wednesday, October 30th, 2019 1:00:00 PM ET – 2:00:00 PM ET Duration: 1 hour(s) Bruising is one of the most common types of soft tissue injury noted on victims of violence, including those suffering intimate partner violence, sexual assault, child…
five scientists having a discussion behind glass

Handling Difficult and Disturbing Forensic Cases for Coroners and Medical Examiners

This webinar originally occurred on October 17th, 2019 Duration: 1 hour There are over 2000 medical examiner and coroner offices throughout the United States. All are involved in determining the cause and manner of death and communicating this information to…
tire treads and shoe print

Portable Advanced 3D Imaging for Footwear and Tire Impression Capture

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019 2:00 – 3:30 PM ET Duration: 1.5 hour(s) This webinar will explain the principles and capabilities of a fully automated portable system with an easy-to use-graphical user interface (GUI) for shoe and tire impression capture. We…

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…
old hand holding young hand

Cradle to Cane: Investigation of Crimes Against Vulnerable Victims

Overview: In 2017, the National Institute of Justice, Charleston Southern University, the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence, and the Shaken Baby Alliance worked together to create and host “From Cradle to Cane: Investigation of Crimes Against Vulnerable Victims.” This two-day conference, held in Charleston, SC, focused…

HHRRC – Building Forensic Capacity Post-Conflict: Lessons from Uganda

← Back to Series This webinar originally occurred on March 28, 2019 Duration: 1.5 hours This presentation introduces research conducted in Uganda at the nexus of forensic science and transitional justice, highlighting a large-scale forensic investigation and human identification capacity-building…

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,…

ASCLD Train the Director – Trace Evidence for the Crime Laboratory

This webinar originally occurred on February 14th, 2019 Duration: 1 hour This course serves as an overview of the trace evidence discipline for the crime laboratory administration. This is the fourth webinar in the ASCLD Train the Director Webinar Series.…

ASCLD Train the Director – Fire Debris Analysis is Not Black Magic!

This webinar originally occurred on February 7th, 2019 Duration: 1 hour The webinar will introduce those laboratory managers with fire debris analysis sections to the nuances of fire debris analysis. This is part of the ASCLD Train the Director Webinar…

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

National Institute of Justice and North Carolina State University Date January 2019 Overview When forensic anthropologists investigate unidentified remains, they look for important clues that can help identify the subject. For example, the size and shape of the skull can…

Estimating Blow Fly Age and Reducing Error in Postmortem Interval Cases

Wednesday, October 24, 2018 2:00:00 PM ET – 4:00:00 PM ET Duration: 2 hour(s) Insect evidence can provide valuable information during death investigations. Forensic entomologists estimate the ages of the immature insects like blow flies, which can provide useful information…

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…

Forensic Workforce Resiliency: Vicarious Trauma & Workplace Stress Webinar Series

Overview Professionals throughout the criminal justice system are exposed to the aftermath of violent crime and its victims. These individuals may include forensic nurses, crime scene investigators, forensic practitioners, medicolegal death investigators, and other professionals in related fields. Research has…

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

National Institute of Justice and Multi-Institute Academic Team Date April 2018 Overview The postmortem interval (PMI) is the time that has elapsed since a person’s death. Determining the PMI at a crime scene may help to recreate the victim’s timeline…

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

National Institute of Justice and Florida International University Date April 2018 Overview Dog “detector teams” support law enforcement and first responders in a variety of applications ranging from drug and contraband interdiction to locating human remains. Dogs offer a useful…
wood burning

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

National Institute of Justice and JENSEN HUGHES Date February 2018 Overview Investigating fires with “liquid fuel” is particularly challenging, as the combustion of building materials often conceals the presence of the fuel. JENSEN HUGHES, led by Dr. Daniel Gottuk, evaluated…
vehicles driving in tunnel

Success Story: Improving the Reliability of Forensic Data from Vehicle Data Records

National Institute of Justice and Synercon Technologies Report Date December 2017 Overview Event Data Recorders (EDRs) are available in commercial vehicles. EDRs store relevant information about operation and other environmental variables. These devices contain content that support criminal investigations involving…

2015 TechBeat Articles Featuring the FTCoE

Gunshot Residue Analysis Featured in New ftcoe Report Series Issue: Sep/Oct 2015 Pages: 3-8 Click here to read the article Familial DNA Project: Engaging Stakeholders, Sharing Opinions Issue: May/Jun 2015 Pages: 13-14 Click here to read the article Cutting-Edge Vacuum Technology: Locates hard to find…

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…

Multidisciplinary Sexual Violence Glossary

About the Multidisciplinary Sexual Violence Glossary The Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE) in collaboration with the Center for Nursing Excellence International (CFNEI) has developed a sexual violence online glossary for medical, law enforcement, and legal professionals. Effective communication among…

Technical Advances in the Visual Documentation of Crime Scenes

Introduction: Michelle Peace, Lyndsay Durham Context of Documentation: Marilyn Miller Practitioner overviews of each scanning technology: SceneVision – Panorama: Virginia Department of Forensic Science Panoscan: Roanoke and Arlington County Police Departments Leica ScanStation C10: Virginia State Police Leica Comparison Presentation:…

Utility of 3D Scanning Technologies Workshop

This 2-day workshop focused on introducing or enhancing forensic science practitioner’s knowledge and capabilities of 3D crime scene documentation technologies. Topics discussed include: -Scope and utility of Leica ScanStation C10 and Faro Focus -Strengths and limitations of each instrument -Evaluation…

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…
burned house and sofa on fire

Success Story: Identifying Ignitable Liquids in Fire Debris and Providing Error Rates for Purposes of Testifying

National Institute of Justice and University of Central Florida Date November 2016 Overview Determining the presence of ignitable liquid residue among the fire debris in an arson investigation is a complicated forensic problem. Most ignitable liquids commonly encountered consist of…
DNA strands with barrier tape

Success Story: Introducing New Methods for DNA Analysis

National Institute of Justice and Midwest Research Institute Date April 2015 Overview Dr. Micah Halpern, formerly of Midwest Research Institute, used National Institute of Justice (NIJ) research grants to develop a unique genotyping method that is capable of rapidly producing…
sam quinones headshot

Success Story: Understanding the Ecology of Human Decomposition Methods for Estimating Postmortem Interval

National Institute of Justice and the National Museum of Health and Medicine Date April 2015 Overview Data on the microbiome of decomposing and skeletonized remains are providing an avenue for understanding how microbial communities may be used to augment medicolegal…
DNA strand in magnifying glass and handcuffed hands

Success Story: Bringing Short Tandem Repeat DNA Identification to Law Enforcement

National Institute of Justice, UC Berkeley, and IntegenX Date April 2015 Overview Dr. Richard Mathies, chemist and professor at UC, Berkeley, was awarded NIJ funding to develop faster, more reliable, higher throughput, more sensitive, and more integrated technologies for forensic…