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Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward
an ethical code, and effective disciplinary procedures.”35 In addition to improving quality, certification programs can enhance the credibility of certificate holders. An excellent description of the certification process is contained in the following excerpt from the National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME) Web site:
In general, certification boards consist of respected professionals in a particular area of professional practice who develop standards for education, training, and experience that are required before one can become ‘certified’ in a particular professional discipline. Successful completion of a written and/or practical examination is also usually required. In essence, ‘certification’ usually means that a particular individual has completed a defined course of education, training, and experience, and has passed an examination prepared by peers which demonstrates that the individual has obtained at least the minimum level of competence required to practice the specific discipline. A number of ‘Certification Boards’ exist for people in various scientific disciplines….36
The professional forensic science community supports the concept of certification. ASCLD recommends that laboratory managers support peer certification programs that promote professionalism and provide objective standards. In 2002, the Technical Working Group on Forensic Science Education recommended certification of an individual’s competency by an independent peer-based organization, if available, from a certifying body with appropriate credentials. In addition, IAI supports certification of forensic science practitioners.37
Some organizations, such as the American Board of Criminalists (ABC), offer examiner certification programs, but some certification organizations appear to lack stringent requirements.38 In response, the American Academy of Forensic Sciences has formed a Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board to accredit certifying organizations. Organizations are invited to participate if they meet established requirements, such as periodic recertification, a sufficient knowledge base for certification, a process for providing credentials, and a code of ethics.39 Currently accredited boards include: