President’s Message – July 2016

Source: John E. Gerns, MFS, 2016-17 President

It’s hard to believe that it has already been five months since we all met in Las Vegas! It was an excellent venue for learning new techniques, exchanging ideas, meeting old friends, making new friends, and greeting colleagues. I assure you that our meeting in New Orleans will far surpass everyone’s expectations. Don’t forget the deadline for abstracts is August 1 and the deadline for new applicants or members requesting promotion is October 1.

During the last week of April, I had the pleasure of traveling to Croatia. The entire trip had been organized by Dragan Primorac, International Affairs Committee Chair. The schedule was intense but productive. We met with the Ministers of Defense and Interior and the Croatian State Attorney General. I gave an interview with the morning news along with a 15-minute live interview on Croatian National Radio Television. We also met with the U.S. Ambassador to Croatia, the Honorable Julieta Valls Noyes. The highlight of the trip was the meeting with the President of Croatia, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic. I had the distinct pleasure of bestowing an AAFS Honorary Membership to President Grabar-Kitarovic for her continuous support to the forensic sciences as well as her support to the AAFS. She was very honored and appreciative. We then met with the Rector of the University of Zagreb and the President of the Croatian Academy of Technical Sciences, Secretary General of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, and the Director of the Croatian Institute of Anthropology. We then proceeded to Split, where we met with the Rector of the University of Split. While there, I also had an opportunity to give a lecture on the AAFS and the forensic sciences to a diverse audience at the University. The lecture was very well received.

In June, I attended the National Commission on Forensic Science meeting in Washington, DC. AAFS Past President Victor Weedn, Senior Advisor to the Deputy Attorney General, began the meeting with opening remarks. The meeting was very interesting and several key issues were discussed. One issue in particular which I found very interesting was the Digital & Multimedia Evidence Panel, which occurred during a working lunch. The theme of the discussion was accreditation.

Following the meeting, AAFS Past President Ken Melson, the rest of the Consortium of Forensic Science Organizations (CFSO), including Beth Lavach, Matt Gamette, and Ken Martin (IAI), and I met with several Congressional staffers and discussed various bills that will have an impact on the forensic sciences. I found this entire process to be very enlightening and worthwhile. The CFSO has a strong voice with Congress and they do rely on our input. Throughout 2016, CFSO has provided the AAFS senior leadership with bills requiring our review and input. When I receive these requests for review, they are forwarded to the AAFS Executive Committee and Board of Directors with a request for input. AAFS then makes a report of the consolidated input, which then goes back to Congress through the CFSO. This process has ensured the AAFS remains in the loop on legislation that will have an impact on the forensic sciences.

I have thoroughly enjoyed being your President and look forward to representing the AAFS and its membership throughout the remainder of my term. It has truly been an honor.