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Foundational Report

In 2005, the SWGGUN formed a Science Committee that was tasked to conduct a comprehensive review of all pertinent and related documents in the toolmark identification discipline in order to determine the reliability of their conclusions in judicial proceedings. 

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Systemic Report

The Scientific Working Groups have been tasked by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in the report entitled Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward with directing the forensic science communities in the establishment of standardized procedures and protocols. The following document is in response to this request...  

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Nashville, TN Fall 2011

Past Meetings - 2011

Group PhotoThe SWGGUN met in Nashville, Tennessee, for their semi-annual meeting from October 31 – November 3, 2011. Thirteen members of the Board were present for the meeting with six absent.

The SWGGUN Board conducted elections that included the appointments to the following positions:

  • Mr. Jeff Foggy from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement – Tallahassee Regional Crime Laboratory was selected as a new member of the board.
     
  • Mr. Steve Scott from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation – Nashville Crime Laboratory was selected as a new member of the board.

The SWGGUN Chair reported the following contacts and actions since the last meeting:

  • SWGGUN responded on May 20, 2011 to the Subcommittee on Forensic Science’s Research, Development, Testing & Evaluation (RDT&E) Interagency Working Group’s (IWG) list of 25 questions pertaining to the forensic discipline of Firearms and Toolmark Identification (FA/TM ID).  The response, which has been posted to the SWGGUN website, was 47 pages in length and a total of 199 annotated bibliographies were contained within the reply.  This reply consisted of publications that SWGGUN felt most concisely answered the RDT&E IWG’s questions.

The following matter was approved by the Board during this meeting:

  • The Gunshot Residue (GSR) Pattern Committee guideline on the Requirements for GSR Distance Determinations was adopted by the Board and the document has been added to the SWGGUN Guidelines which can be found on the website.

The following is a summary of what transpired during the Nashville meeting and updates as to what the committees within SWGGUN are working on or developed since the last meeting:

The Science Committee – Foundational Subcommittee continues work on a report draft in response to the 2009 NAS Report regarding the scientific foundational issues in the Firearms and Toolmark Identification discipline.   

The Science Committee – Likelihood Ratio (LR) Subcommittee researched and contacted European examiners who utilize likelihood ratios in determining the level of confidence for a comparison to gain a better understanding of the concept and its use.  It was decided by the committee after all the research was compiled that there is no need to further investigate the use of likelihood ratios in examinations.  Considering that our clients or who we write reports for are largely investigative or legal agencies it was determined that staying with reporting observable/narrative results instead of statistical results is the best course of action at this time.  The committee is in discussion and potentially will develop a “likelihood narrative” to assist examiners in articulating the likelihood that one firearm was used more than the other.

The Science Committee – Uncertainty of Measurement Subcommittee reported that the best course of action was to utilize ASCLD/LAB for guidance in preparing examiners for uncertainty of measurement.  This committee determined that the guiding documents already produced by ASCLD/LAB as well as their training courses were sufficient to educate the discipline on this subject.

The Science Committee – Validation Article Review Subcommittee have compiled the relevant validation studies in firearm and toolmark examination.  They are in the process of examining these studies currently and considering consulting with a statistician to ensure that the error rate percentages developed (combined from all the studies) is accurate and of a proper calculation method.

The Report Writing Committee continues to gather report writing verbiage exemplars and terminology samples used in the Firearms & Toolmark Identification discipline in an effort to provide guidelines on more standardized reporting formats.  They are currently in the process of determining the general report format (what should be included) and will then move forward with wording recommendations within the reports.   
 
The Glossary Committee presented their final report on their work product which was reviewed by the board.  They are in the final stages of completing the SWGGUN Glossary and once completed it will be posted to the SWGGUN website for general access.  

The Bylaws Committee has recommended holding off on any major changes or revisions to the current SWGGUN bylaws due to the fact there is potential that bylaws changes and standardization amongst all of the SWG groups are forthcoming.

The ARK Maintenance Committee presented that seven (7) new admissibility court ruling citations were added to the ARK since the last meeting.  It was also reported that the ARK had 1200 “hits” and over 4000 “page views” with the Case Citations material being at the top of this “hit” list.

  • As a reminder this immensely valuable resource can be found on the SWGGUN website (www.swggun.org)

The Document Committee continues its reformatting of adopted SWGGUN Guidelines and other work products for submission to the Association of Firearm and Tool Mark Examiners (AFTE) Journal for publication.   

The Admissibility Training Committee continues to develop a structured program in providing training in evidence admissibility hearings. Additionally, the Admissibility Training Committee delivered a one day Evidence Admissibility Hearing training program at the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Headquarters facility in Nashville. The class consisted of 41 Firearms and Toolmark Examiners as well as Fingerprint Examiners and local University students representing 10 laboratories from Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky and North Carolina.    

SWGGUN members were provided a tour of the firearms manufacturing facilities at Barrett Firearms in Murfreesboro, Tennessee and a tour of the TBI Forensic Laboratory complex in Nashville.  

These committees are working to develop a product that can be posted on the SWGGUN website for review and comments from the forensic community. SWGGUN continues to operate its own website at www.swggun.org and solicits valuable input from the discipline through a number of different mechanisms during the development stages of the guidelines which we produce. These guideline/documents are then posted on the website for your review and we encourage peer review of these materials. Feel free to contact a Board member with your comments/concerns or visit us at the “Feedback Forum” tab above.

Thank you for allowing us to serve you. Board member information can be found under the “Members” tab. We look forward to hearing from you and encourage your continued participation in these ongoing projects that ultimately affect our work product.  

As a final thought, I would be remiss to not give a big thank you to Greg Klees.  Greg did a fantastic job leading this group as chair over the last four years and his contributions to the SWGGUN as well as to the field of Firearm and Toolmark Examination cannot be understated.  If you know Greg then you know I have very big shoes to fill (figuratively and literally) and I will do the best job I can to accomplish that.  I am humbled yet excited to take over as chair of SWGGUN and I only hope I can do half the job as those who have served before me.   

G. Andrew Smith- Chair, SWGGUN                               

 

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