|Posted on Wednesday, January 21, 2004 - 05:49 am: ||
That's a good question. I believe there exists a professional and moral requirement that you intervene.
The CLPE Code of Ethics could be interpreted as requiring it because it states as follows:
It is the duty of practicing Latent Print Examiners to serve the interests of justice to the best of their ability at all times. In fulfilling this duty, they will use all of the scientific means at their command to ascertain all of the significant physical facts relative to the matters under investigation. Having made factual determinations, the examiner must then interpret and evaluate the findings. In this they will be guided by experience and knowledge which, coupled with a serious consideration of their analytical findings and application of sound judgment, may enable them to arrive at opinions and conclusions pertaining to the matters under study. These findings of fact and their conclusions and opinions should be reported with all the accuracy and skill of which the examiner is capable, to the end that all persons fully understand and be able to place the findings in their proper relationship to the problem at issue. ...and, the IAI Parent Body Code of Ethics states as follows:
Latent Print Examiners are responsible for maintaining an awareness of, and an adherence to, existing professional safety standards, in order to ensure a safe environment while working in a laboratory or in the field.
In carrying out these functions, the examiner will be guided by those practices and procedures that are generally recognized within the profession to be consistent with a high level of professional ethics. The motives, methods and actions of the examiner shall at all times be above reproach, in good taste, and consistent with proper moral conduct.
A Latent Print Examiner, whose professional or personal conduct becomes adverse to the best interests and purposes of the profession of Latent Print Identification, shall be liable to censure, suspension or withdrawal of Certification.
As a member of the International Association for Identification, and being actively engaged in the profession of Scientific Identification and Investigation, I dedicate myself to the efficient and scientific administration thereof in the interest of Justice and the betterment of Law Enforcement. At another place on this website, I have documented some of my personal experiences insofar as intervention when encountering "problem" Latent Print Examiners.
To cooperate with others of the profession, promote improvement through research, and disseminate such advancement in my effort to make more effective the analysis of the expert.
To employ my technical knowledge factually, with zeal and determination, to protect the ethical standards of the profession of Scientific Identification and Investigation.
I humbly accept my responsibility to Public Trust and seek Divine guidance that I may keep inviolate the Profession of Law Enforcement.
My personal advice for other Latent Print Examiners encountering incompetency or charlatans is as follows:
1. If you encounter something that you feel should be reported, do it promptly. Bad news does not get better with time and whether you are reporting the matter to the supervisors of the incompetent Latent Print Examiners, to officers of the court, or to the IAI, timeliness does matter. I recommend you pen the letter the same day. Keep the letter professional and stick to the facts as you encountered them. If you do not put your concerns in writing, six months later you may learn that nothing happened with the problem, because your concerns were treated as if they never officially surfaced. If you write a complaint about a bum ident, a photograph or other copy of the erroneous identification should accompany your letter unless copies have been already introduced in court or otherwise made public record. Without such copies, you may find that the photo(s) you examined have mysteriously disappeared, or that somehow the ident markings on the photo now read something like, "look at #8 for Jones" instead of "ident #8 Jones." Do what has to be done!
2. Be aware of your own agency’s internal rules. You may be restricted by internal regulations from writing a letter to external organizations (such as the IAI LPCB) about a coworker making a bum ident. You may find that your agency is willing to revoke agency certification for an incompetent coworker and transfer him or her to a desk job on the other side of town (4.3 miles away) where they can finish out their career and retire without making any more bum idents. That way you get to keep your job because you didn’t violate internal agency rules, and justice is served because the incompetent Latent Print Examiner(s) is precluded from doing more harm.
3. This matter of reporting coworkers or rogue Latent Print Examiners from another agency can sometimes be a pretty gray area insofar as what is the best course of action. There is a wide variety of administrative, procedural and technical errors that can be encountered. It normally makes a big difference as to whether the error occurred during proficiency testing versus casework, and if during casework, whether the error was reported outside the laboratory to the supported agency or investigators. Many labs have internal regulations stating that there will be no punitive measures taken for proficiency test errors (to encourage examiners to treat proficiency tests like normal casework instead of handling them with overly conservative kid gloves). If the errors involve incomplete evidence processing procedures, you may have a tough time convincing supervisors that they are sacrificing too much quality for the sake of speed (nobody can do everything possible in every case).
4. Depending on the circumstances, you may encounter some negative repercussions for your well-meaning intentions. Some coworkers or supervisors may misinterpret your actions (especially if they involve a coworker) as disloyalty to the unit or agency. In the long run, you will be able to look at yourself in the mirror and know you did the right thing in the interest of justice. Society funded your training and experience and you owe it to society to serve justice insofar as possible.
|Posted on Tuesday, January 20, 2004 - 12:00 pm: ||
I wanted to find out what other latent print examiners do when they find out about other "Examiners" completing casework without proper training, using accepted methodology and without adequate technical reviews.
Are we, as examiners, required to intervene? And what steps should the intervention take.