What are the needs of crime labs, when it comes to the latest 21st century tools and technology?

A new federal working group announced last week at the annual American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors meeting in Atlanta intends to find out—and better understand where there are limitations.

The Forensic Laboratory Needs–Technology Working Group, or FLN-TWG, was announced by the U.S. Department of Justice—and ASCLD supports what upside it could bring to state and local labs.

“The FLN-TWG is a phenomenal new opportunity for ASCLD members to engage DOJ on a number of important topics,” said Matthew Gamette, president of the ASCLD and director of the Idaho State Police Crime Laboratory System.

At least 13 members of ASCLD are on the new working group.

Gamette said besides NIJ, ASCLD and DOJ, the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence at RTI International is also involved in the new review process.

“ASLCD members represent state and local labs in NIJ listening sessions regarding federal grant spending and priorities, operational needs assessments, evaluation of forensic science research needs, and technology transfer to forensic science laboratories,” Gamette said.

A similar group focused on laboratory needs most recently met in February to identify common needs, according to an entry on the National Institutes of Justice website. The state of specific tools and applications for that group include a wide host of DNA biology analysis, from scientific research of advanced linkage of alternative markers to training of rape-kit processing. It also includes controlled substances and forensic toxicology needs, from some blind testing, to cost limitations, and even the lack of illicit substance reference materials for emerging drugs. The state of impression pattern and trace evidence is another category of assessments—as well as bloodstain pattern analysis, fire and arson investigations, footwear and tire testing, pathology and medicolegal investigations, and forensic anthropology needs, among others.