The Questioned Documents Section is Celebrating the Forensic Science Family

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Source: Thomas W. Vastrick, BS, Section Chair

What a wonderful time to be involved in the profession of forensic science, not just in the practice of our profession but in the opportunities that have arisen to be an integral part of setting the course for our profession and our discipline for many decades to come. never in history has there been such a scale of adjustment in our course as the present. Some might cite the Daubert decision as a defining moment – but not even that Supreme Court ruling could compare to what we are staring at right now.

The forensic sciences are changing and the Academy is taking a leading position in steering what that course will be. Thanks to the NAS Report and the actions taken to put those recommendations into place by Congress through NIST, our profession and our discipline can expect major changes to what has for decades been our norm. What the products will be is almost impossible to fathom.

So how are we going to react? Some are facing it with trepidation, some with concern, some are trying to ignore it. But why? We have been challenged to strengthen our profession – to make it better. Why would we not want to be better? What we need to do – and more importantly – what we need to do as a family – is embrace this atmosphere. Hooray for us! Our willingness to listen to legitimate criticism and react in such a positive manner is something of which I am personally proud, and I hope all of you are equally as proud. But now comes the hard part.

It is easy to “hip-hip-hooray,” but soon we will be buckling down and actually doing the work that needs to be done. Our task is not simple nor is it going to be received universally the same. Our task is going to take a long, long time. There will be many issues that are not going to make some practitioners happy. That is just the nature of humanity. But let’s try to remember that our efforts are for the greater good of the forensic family. Some of our products may not seem perfect but sometimes you have to achieve good before you can get to better. From our experience with SWGDOC, we have learned that if you attempt to achieve perfection on your first try, you will never complete anything.

What can we do to promote our advances? There is really only one answer – participate. Even if you are not part of a committee or subcommittee, each and every person can have input. Keep abreast of what is happening and do not hesitate to provide your input.