conclusion. IAI has a certification program for footwear and tire track examiners.50 The group’s recommended course of study has 13 segments, and each segment includes a suggested reading list and practical and/or written exercises. The student must pass an examination. This course of study does not require an understanding of the scientific basis of the examinations, and it does not recommend the use of a scientific method. Also, there is no provision or recommendation for proficiency testing or continuing education. SWGTREAD, a group of footwear and tire track examiners formed by the FBI, recommends that a trainee candidate have (1) a bachelor’s degree (preferably in a physical or natural science) from an accredited college or university; or (2) an associate degree or 60 college semester hours, plus two years of job-related forensic experience; or (3) a high school diploma or equivalent, plus four years of job-related forensic experience.51

Scientific Interpretation and Reporting of Results

For footwear evidence, Fawcett52 and Bodziak53 have attempted to assign probabilistic or statistical significance to impression comparisons. Generally, shoeprint and tire track examiners prefer nonstatistical language to report or to testify to the result of their findings. Terms such as “positive identification” and “nonidentification” can be used to indicate an identification or nonidentification, respectively, and “nonconclusive” would indicate situations in which the analysis falls short of either of the other two.54

In a European survey, examiners were given identical mock cases. Accidental, identifying characteristics were purposely put onto the sole of new shoes, and examiners were asked to make a statement concerning the strength of matches. The results of the survey concluded that there were considerable differences in the conclusions reached by different laboratories examining identical cases.”55 SWGTREAD recommends terminology such as:

  • “identification” (definite conclusion of identity)

  • “probably made” (very high degree of association)


Recommended Course of Study for Footwear & Tire Track Examiners. 1995. Mendota Heights, MN: International Association for Identification.


SWGTread. 2006. Guide for Minimum Qualifications and Training for a Forensic Footwear and/or Tire Tread Examiner. Available at


A.S. Fawcett. 1970. The role of the footmark examiner. Journal of the Forensic Science Society 10:227-244.


Bodziak, op. cit., pp. 342-346.




H. Majamaa and Y. Anja., op. cit.

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