Criminalistics and the Three Ds

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Source: Patrick Buzzini, PhD, Section Secretary

The upcoming 71stAnnual Scientific Meeting to be held in Baltimore, MD, is on the horizon. Our Program Chair Noelle Umback and Co-Chair Sandra Sachs have finalized the program agenda of the meeting, which will be included in the Advance Program released in November. In addition to the traditional sessions dedicated to the latest research in the various Criminalistics subdisciplines and the most pressing topics of the moment, we have planned several joint sessions with other sections. Examples include Justice Cannot Happen in a Vacuum with the Jurisprudence section, a joint session with the General section addressing the collection and processing of rape kits, and a joint session with Engineering Sciences on fire science and investigation. As always, do not miss the poster sessions presented Wednesday through Friday, and, of course, the amazing Believe It or Not! which will be featured once again on Friday night. Stay tuned! We expect a large attendance at the meeting, and it is therefore recommended that you book your hotel sooner rather than later.

Academy President Susan Ballou has elected this year’s theme to be the trinity of the core values of Diligence to the effort, Dedication to handling the details, and Devotion to the field. This theme is very inspiring. We refer to it as a trinity because the Three Ds are clearly deeply interconnected. We cannot think of a more suitable way to describe the core values of a criminalist. Moreover, the Three Ds need to be present during every step of the physical evidence process if reliable forensic services are to be provided. This mindset starts where any type of traces are left behind and progressively continues during the critical activities of their recognition, documentation, and preservation. The Three Ds must be present during the reflections about the relevancy of the recovered traces in the context of the case under investigation, during their analyses and examinations within the laboratory setting, during the critical phase of their interpretation, and, of course, during the exercise of communicating findings and interpretations in both written and oral forms. The Three Ds apply to every individual directly or indirectly involved in the practice of criminalistics: crime scene and field investigators, scientists and technicians within a forensic laboratory, managers, lab directors, private forensic consultants, educators, and many more. The Three Ds are values that one wants to find in a mentor or a senior colleague. Indeed, the Three Ds set the conditions for a wise path toward improvement and progress in criminalistics that can be achieved right now but also by the future generations of criminalists. Therefore, I invite you to take a moment to think about the Three Ds and have conversations with your colleagues as an enthusiastic preparation to your attendance at the upcoming AAFS meeting. I am certain you will realize how integral these core values are in your expertise in your everyday work.

This is also the time for a final sprint to submit applications for membership (by October 1). We strongly encourage our current Members to consider upgrading their membership status, if not a Fellow already. We invite our practitioner-members to inspire other colleagues and coworkers to apply for membership as Trainee Affiliates or Associate Members as well as for professors to inform students about the opportunity to join as Student Affiliates. Please carefully review the basic and individual section requirements posted on the AAFS website.

I very much look forward to seeing you in Baltimore in a few months.