Attendees of the Leica Geosystems forensic track at HxGN LIVE 2016 in June were treated to an insider’s perspective on the workings of the National Commission on Forensic Science (NCFS) when Dean Gialamas, Division Director for the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s Technology and Support Division, shared his views on “How Verifiable, High-Accuracy Laser Scanning Can Conform to National Forensic Science Reforms for Crime Scene Investigations.” Director Gialamas previously served as the Crime Lab Director for both the LASD and the Orange County Sheriff’s Departments and currently serves as one of just six people with forensic practitioner experience on the 30-member NCFS.
After a mandatory disclaimer that his views did not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the LASD, the U.S. government or any of its agencies or branches, the NCFS, the U.S. Department of Justice or the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gialamas provided a fascinating overview of the structure of the NCFS and what the commission is doing with particular emphasis on how it relates to the laser scanning of crime scenes.
Key observations made by Gialamas included:
- Forensic Science Service Providers (FSSPs) need to stay ahead of the curve, know what is going on nationally and to prepare for an intense focus on the sciences.
- Agencies with at least one person who spends at least 50% of their time engaged in crime scene activity will be considered an FSSP and therefore that agency will fall under the purview of the NCFS and the Organization of Scientific Area Committees. Crash and fire scene investigators meeting this threshold will also be considered FSSPs.
- FSSPs will need to work toward standardization, accreditation and individual certification.
During the question and answer portion of the program, Director Gialamas was asked if he thought that the power of the purse would be used to encourage state and local law enforcement agencies to seek accreditation, and if so, when. Gialamas responded in the affirmative and that he thought it was in the “near future.”
He went on to explain that the Department of Justice oversees the National Institute of Justice and that the NIJ is one of the major funding entities in the U.S. for grants for a number of law enforcement agencies including crime labs. He referenced accreditation as a likely requirement for future NIJ grant funding.