Advancements in applied sciences such as forensics occur when innovative technologies and methodologies are implemented by end users. However, simply identifying or developing a new forensic technology or technique does not ensure that it will be successfully adopted and integrated by practitioners in the criminal justice community. Factors such as ease of use, affordability, and availability from commercial sources have to be addressed for new forensic science technologies to be put into practical use.
The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) recognized the challenges of understanding diverse needs and circumstances of end users and sought to bridge the gap between scientific and justice communities, and to disseminate detailed information to the field about new technologies and their effectiveness. To those ends, NIJ established the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE) and engaged RTI to serve as its lead.
Addressing Crime and Justice Challenges through the Establishment of the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence
To help address the challenges faced by NIJ, the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE) seeks to strengthen the impact of forensic science through rigorous technology corroboration, evaluation, and adoption. Our team brings to this role expertise across all forensic disciplines, complemented by a robust infrastructure that includes laboratory sciences, criminal justice operations, web-based training, data collection, and technology assessment.
As leaders of the FTCoE, we also apply expertise in education, practice and policy development, and outreach capabilities to help improve the practice of forensic technology.
Advancing Forensic Technology by Bridging the Gap between the Scientific and Justice Communities
The FTCoE team of universities and other partners delivers practical and valuable solutions to the forensic science community through a blend of expertise, objectivity, experience, and national reach. Knowledge sharing—through web-based presentations, workshops, specialized events, and discussion panels—is a key component of the center’s efforts to strengthen the connection between forensic discovery and process.
The FTCoE works to advance technology by managing the testing and evaluation of emerging technologies applicable to forensic science. We use technical evaluation, technical assistance, and guidance resources to identify and remove barriers to implementation and acceptance, ensuring that promising technical innovations are put in the hands of forward-thinking practitioners, stakeholders, and policymakers.
In the area of R&D advancement, our team relies on a keen understanding of user needs to identify and employ the requirements necessary to drive the adoption of new forensic technologies. Not only do we manage the NIJ’s research and development portfolio, we sponsor the NIJ Biology/DNA and General Forensics Technical Working Group meetings, working in concert with NIJ to disseminate the group’s recommendations to the practitioner community.
Through our focus on special initiatives, our team recognizes that certain areas within the forensic community may need more detailed, specialized assistance. Under the leadership of our forensic experts, FTCoE is well-equipped to address specific concerns related to communication and coordination. By providing workable solutions to challenges that span disciplines, we are able to assist in the successful implementation of new ideas, policies, and practices that expand the knowledge base of forensic science and technology.