mendations on this matter because it recognized two critical factors: (1) the forensic science system is in need of a major overhaul (see Chapters 2 through 8), and until these issues are addressed it makes little sense to expand the efforts of state and local forensic scientists into homeland security operations and (2) many issues that would arise from such integration (e.g., federal jurisdiction, national security issues, restrictions on sharing of information) go beyond the charge and principal focus of the committee.13
Good forensic science and medical examiner practices are of clear value from a homeland security perspective because of their roles in bringing criminals to justice and in dealing with the effects of natural and human-made mass disasters. Forensic science techniques (e.g., the evaluation of DNA fragments) enable the thorough investigations of crime scenes. Routine and trustworthy collection of digital evidence, and improved techniques and timeliness for its analysis, can be of great potential value in identifying terrorist activity. Therefore, a strong and reliable forensic science community is needed to maintain homeland security. However, to capitalize on this potential, the forensic science and medical examiner communities must be well interfaced with homeland security efforts, so that they can contribute when needed. To be successful, this interface will require: (1) the establishment of good working relationships among federal, state, and local jurisdictions; (2) the creation of strong security programs to protect data transmittals across jurisdictions; (3) the development of additional training for forensic scientists and crime scene investigators; and (4) the promulgation of contingency plans that will promote efficient team efforts on demand. Although policy issues relating to the enforcement of homeland security are beyond the scope of this report, it is clear that improvements in the forensic science community and the medical examiner system could greatly enhance the capabilities of homeland security.
Congress should provide funding to the National Institute of Forensic Science (NIFS) to prepare, in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, forensic scientists and crime scene investigators for their potential roles in managing and analyzing evidence from
See Institute of Medicine. 2008. Research Priorities in Emergency Preparedness and Response for Public Health Systems and workshop summaries of the Disasters Roundtable, dels.nas.edu/dr/