This section reviews
Handbook of Forensic ServicesNew Hampshire
Forensic laboratory services are available to all local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies in New Hampshire for assistance in criminal investigations and legal proceedings. The handbook describes a range of forensic services offered by the New Hampshire State Police Forensic Laboratory, including analysis of controlled drugs, biological materials/DNA, digital evidence, fingerprints, fire debris, firearms, photography, trace evidence, blood and urine toxicology, and breath alcohol.
The handbook provides law enforcement personnel with guidance and procedures for safe and efficient methods of collecting and preserving physical evidence. It is the mission of the State of New Hampshire State Police Forensic Laboratory to analyze evidence from criminal investigations in a manner that will minimize loss, contamination, and deleterious change.
Making the Idea a Reality
The Handbook of Forensic Services was developed collaboratively by lab personnel and the laboratory director. Laboratory analysts wrote procedures for proper evidence collection and preservation within their respective disciplines. These drafts were combined into a draft handbook. This draft was distributed to all laboratory examiners for a second review. The final product was then presented to the laboratory director for editing and final approval. Copies of the handbook were distributed to all law enforcement agencies throughout the state.
Benefits to Victims
Only through proper collection and preservation can forensic scientists derive the maximum amount of information from the physical evidence they receive. This information may be used by law enforcement personnel to identify an unknown assailant, refute an assailant's claim of innocence, or substantiate the victim's account of the use of force. Prosecutors routinely rely on this information to successfully prosecute criminal defendants.
Benefits to Victim Service Professionals
Victim service professionals can operate more effectively within their respective roles when they are confident that evidence from a crime of violence will be properly collected and preserved for analysis in the forensic laboratory.
Sexual Assault Kit Tracking ApplicationWest Virginia
The Sexual Assault Kit Tracking Application (SAKiTA) provides feedback to sexual assault forensic examiners (SAFEs, SANEs) about the quality of samples collected at the facility.
Unfortunately, few crime laboratories have a system in place for providing feedback to health care providers who collect sexual assault evidence. Some crime laboratories even refuse to give the information to anyone other than the prosecutor. This means that unless a case goes to trial, it is unlikely that the SANE will ever know the results of the evidence collected.
Making the Idea a Reality
The West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services (FRIS) worked closely with the West Virginia State Police Forensic Laboratory and Marshall University Forensic Science Center to develop a secure tracking system that would provide feedback for SANEs and physicians. Ronnie Jewell of the Computer Forensic Laboratory and Marshall University Forensic Science Center developed SAKiTA to meet that need; the application was implemented in January 2006.
The state sexual assault coalition's Web site, which is hosted at a secure location through Marshall University's Forensic Science Center, runs SAKiTA. SAKiTA has three levels of administration: SANE (medical provider), WV State Police Forensic Laboratory, and FRIS/Marshall University Forensic Science Center.
Here's how SAKiTA works
Feedback provided by SAKiTA
SANEs and other health care providers who use this system in West Virginia will get immediate feedback on the results of all swabs submitted for analysis. They will be told which swabs are positive and which are not, as well as whether the evidence was packaged and dried correctly by the examiner. In addition, they will be informed if sperm were found, if DNA was identified, and from which sources. Space is also available for the laboratory personnel to provide additional feedback on the evidence submitted. [The feedback form is available in this toolkit.].
Benefits to Service Providers and Victims
SAKiTA will help the West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services (FRIS), the West Virginia State Police Forensic Laboratory, and the West Virginia SANE Advisory Board to identify weaknesses in evidence collection procedures, thus pinpointing training needs for the state. Using SAKiTA will not only provide a feedback mechanism for forensic examiners, but will help the State Police Forensic Laboratory determine the location of sex crime kits once they have been sent to the laboratory from hospitals throughout the state. SAKiTA will also create a system for determining the status of a sex crime kit once it is received at the lab.
In addition, SAKiTA will provide data for a comparison of sex crime kits collected by SANEs and non-SANEs. FRIS believes that the data will show the need for hospitals to support the SANE initiative in West Virginia by training nurses and developing more SANE programs throughout the state.
West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services
112 Braddock Street
Fairmont, WV 26554