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Latent Print Examination » Questions from FP Experts for FP Experts... Processing, Testimony, and Technical Matters » Production Standards for Latent Print Examiners - Good or Bad? « Previous Next »

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Dave M
Posted on Saturday, January 05, 2002 - 03:47 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Well, nobody else is going out on a limb here so I will. A production standard as suggested here would be counter-productive to productivity. Since every print comparison case is different (the reason there's no scientifically valid numeric standard), holding an examiner to such a production standard would not be too unlike giving a physicist a time frame for his/her next breakthrough. This holds an examiner responsible for conditions outside of his/her control such as the condition of the print and exemplars, actual time needed for processing, difficulty of comparison, etc. It creates a stress environment based upon an artificial standard. This would not only serve to decrease productivity, as unnecessary stress tends to do, it could also tempt an examiner to list false positives and subject the entire section to an ethical dilemmna. Finally, such a standard is tantamount to a quota system which, in some states, is illegal and, at best, problematic. (Think about how it would sound in court if the examiner, during voir dire, states that he/she meets or exceeds their department mandated production standard of "X" identifications per month).

If there is a question as to whether an examiner is being sufficiently productive, the best way would be annual proficiency exams. There are outside and in-house resources for this. The next thing would be to look at the conditions of the evidence (including prints) that examiner has had to deal with. Has he/she had bad luck and handled more than their share of junk prints, etc? Taking all of these things into consideration, while more time consuming, builds a more secure foundation for a supervisor if proficiency and productivity are at issue. An artificial number not only defeats the purpose but it puts the onus on the supervisor to defend it when there is little to defend it. The alternative either ratifies the examiner or builds a foundation for productive (and, if necessary, remedial or disciplinary) discussion with the employee.

I hope this has addressed the issue in a proper tone and manner.
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Andy Kearns
Posted on Thursday, October 11, 2001 - 07:55 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Here's a question for all latent print examiners: Is holding a LP examiner to a production standard (closing a specified # of cases per given time frame) a good idea or a bad idea? Why or why not? What are the consequences, if any, and what's your reasoning? Does having a production standard actually influence an examiners productivity? Keep in mind that I'm referring to cases which may involve any or all of the following: crime scene processing, laboratory examination, documentation, comparison, identification, AFIS, etc.

Any thoughts you can share will be greatly appreciated. Please respond to me directly via e-mail or post to this board. Thanks for your help!

Andy Kearns
Senior Criminalist, CLPE
Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation

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