FEPAC Calls for Comments on Proposed Crime Scene Investigation Standards

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Source: Nancy J. Jackson, AAFS Accreditation and Outreach Coordinator

The Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC) is asking for your comments on and reaction to the proposed standards shown below for academic programs in Crime Scene Investigation.

Background: Based on surveys conducted over the past several years, FEPAC has developed a set of standards for Crime Scene Investigation.

FEPAC is soliciting comments on its draft-proposed standards for Crime Scene Investigation. The standards follow the format of the FEPAC standards for Criminalistics, Forensic Chemistry, Forensic Biology, and Digital Evidence. FEPAC assembled a subcommittee of academics and practitioners to draft, discuss, and modify these proposed standards. What is presented below is the subcommittee’s and FEPAC Commissioners’ consensus. FEPAC welcomes your comments and suggestions.  Please submit your comments November 6 via email to Nancy Jackson, Accreditation and Outreach Coordinator at njackson@aafs.org.

Outline of Proposed Standards for Crime Scene Investigation

Standards 4.1 – 4.1c – for all forensic science undergraduate programs
Standards 4.2.5 – 4.2.5c – Crime Scene Investigation undergraduate standards
Standard 4.3 – for all forensic science undergraduate programs.


4.1a Forensic Science Professional Practice Topics

The following topics must be covered in the curriculum:

  • Courtroom testimony
  • Introduction to law
  • Quality assurance
  • Ethics
  • Professional practice
  • Evidence identification, collection, processing

Normally, a topic will involve multiple class meetings and may involve multiple learning modalities, such as lectures, laboratories, and demonstrations. Evaluation of student mastery of each topic may be done through a number of modalities, but the topic material must be specifically addressed in a syllabus and assessed. The program shall have clear procedures for assessing and documenting each student’s progress toward fulfillment of these objectives.

4.1b Forensic Science Courses

The following Forensic Courses must be covered in the curriculum:

  • Forensic Science Survey Coursework – All tracks shall have at least three semester hours for a survey of forensic science classes designed to ensure students are exposed the full breadth of forensic science disciplines in a full-service crime laboratory.
  • Forensic Science Coursework – Each track shall have at least six semester hours in forensic science coursework that introduce students to methods, instrumentation, and concepts that are commonly associated with the professional practice of forensic science. At least three of the six semester hours must contain laboratory training.

Courses that fulfill this total nine semester hour requirement can be used to cover the topics listed in Standard 4.1a. However, these same courses may not be used to fulfill any of the 4.2 Specific Emphasis Track Curricular Requirements.

4.1c Forensic Science Capstone Experience

A minimum of three semester hours is required that should result in a capstone presentation, publication, or similar scholarly product. This requirement could be met in the following ways:

  1. Capstone Course
  2. Internships
  3. Independent Research

 4.2.5 Crime Scene Investigation

These classes shall be consistent with the degree program and shall meet the needs of students specializing in the crime scene investigations and analysis.

4.2.5a Natural Science Courses

  1. Mathematics: at least one course (3 semester hours each) from the following list:
  • Statistics
  • Trigonometry
  • Geometry
  • Higher mathematics
  1. Sciences: at least two courses, which include the co-requisite laboratory (minimum 7 semester hours total) from the following list:
  • Physical Science
  • General Chemistry
  • General Biology

4.2.5b Crime Scene Courses

A minimum of 15 semester hours of coursework shall include the following topics:

  • Crime scene interface with other forensic disciplines (including recognition and collection of evidence for other disciplines and presumptive testing)
  • History and theory of crime scene investigations
  • Relevant and current crime scene investigation literature
  • Nature and properties of evidence types
  • Crime scene safety; security; interactions with police, public, media; and legal
  • Crime scene search
  • Crime scene equipment, instrumentation, and technologies
  • Crime scene interpretation, analysis, and reconstruction
  • Crime scene documentation, collection, preservation, and enhancement
  • Crime scene and evidence photography and videography
  • Report writing and case preparation.

4.2.5c Specialized Crime Scene Courses

A minimum of 6 additional semester hours is required in specialized crime scene training that covers at least two of the following topics (it is understood that because of the specialized nature of these courses that there should be some form of practical hands-on instruction that could include a laboratory setting):

  • Bloodstain pattern analysis and interpretation
  • Shooting reconstruction
  • Crime scene reconstruction (event analysis)
  • Death investigations
  • Sexual assault investigations
  • Clandestine laboratories
  • Fire and explosion investigations
  • Crime scenes involving digital evidence
  • Latent prints and other pattern evidence
  • Forensic Pathology
  • Forensic Entomology
  • Forensic Anthropology/Archaeology
  • Accident scene reconstruction
  • Wildlife forensics
  • Horticultural and agronomy evidence
  • Water quality evidence
  • Materials analysis evidence (mechanical engineering and stress and failure analysis)
  • Behavioral aspects of crime scenes

Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC) or Academy Standards Board (ASB) Standards as published by a Standards Development Organization such as the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) should be reflected in the coursework.

4.3 Program Director

The program director shall be a full-time faculty member at the academic institution, appropriately qualified to meet the program’s stated mission, goals, and objectives and to provide leadership in forensic science education, research, and other scholarly activities so students are adequately prepared for forensic science practice.

The program director shall meet the following requirements:

  1. A minimum of a Master’s or professional degree appropriate for a forensic science program and at least three years relevant experience as a forensic science practitioner in an operational forensic science laboratory setting; OR earned doctorate in an appropriate discipline and three years experience as an academic forensic scientist that includes appropriate educational, research, and service contributions to forensic science; and
  2. Documented management experience appropriate to the duties assigned to the position.