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Friday, January 28, 2000202/307-0703

Guide Called for by Attorney General Reno to Improve Evidence Collection Practices

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Justice Department's National Institute of Justice (NIJ) today released a new guide to help law enforcement officers identify, collect, and preserve useful physical evidence. The new guide, "Crime Scene Investigation: A Guide for Law Enforcement," was developed by a working group of practitioners and experts from across the nation, in response to Attorney General Janet Reno's interest in improving evidence collection and handling practices.

"With our increasing ability to use high-tech lab work to solve crimes, it is more important than ever that crime scenes be properly handled by law enforcement," said Attorney General Reno. "With guides such as this one, we are giving state and local officials tools to use to help convict the guilty and exonerate the innocent."

In 1995, Attorney General Reno asked NIJ to study cases in which convicted sex offenders were later exonerated by DNA testing. Based on the outcome of this study, she then asked NIJ to study how evidence could be better gathered and processed for more accurate identification of offenders. NIJ Director Jeremy Travis initiated a technical working group on crime scene investigation to identify recommended practices for the identification, collection, preservation, and use in court of physical evidence, including DNA evidence, blood and bloodstain patterns, fingerprints, tool marks, trace evidence, and trajectory evidence. The guide being released today is the product of this working group.

"The Attorney General's personal interest in crime scene technology has prompted us to bring together law enforcement officials, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and forensic science analysts to take an in-depth look at how to recover and preserve vital physical clues," said NIJ Director Travis. "This group of experts has created a guide that reflects the best current thinking in the field."

The working group is composed of 44 members representing law enforcement, prosecution, the defense bar, and forensic science. The recommendations in the guide were developed with input from all four disciplines, and are designed to increase the likelihood that key evidence is recovered and available for analysis by forensic scientists and for use in court. The guide is being released in conjunction with a meeting of the technical working group in Washington, D.C. on January 28, 2000. A list of working group members, including their hometowns, is attached.

The report is available on the NIJ Website at For printed copies, contact the National Criminal Justice Reference Service at 1-800/851-3420. NIJ is a component of the Office of Justice Programs, which provides information on criminal justice programs, research, and statistics at Media should call Mike McCarthy of OJP's Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at 202/307-0703.


NIJ 00-49

National Crime Scene Planning Panel

Dr. Jose R. Almirall
International Forensic Research Institute
Florida International University
Miami, Florida

Susan Ballou
Montgomery County Crime Laboratory
Rockville, Maryland

Paul Carroll
Chicago Police Department (Retired)
Big Pine Key, Florida

Elizabeth Farris
Hampden County District Attorney's Office
Springfield, Massachusetts

Jo Ann Given
Naval Criminal Investigative Service
Norfolk, Virginia

Marjorie Harris
Virginia Department of Criminal Justice
Division of Forensic Science
Richmond, Virginia

Larry McCann
Virginia State Police (Retired)
Richmond, Virginia

Dr. Joseph L. Peterson
University of Illinois
Department of Criminal Justice
Chicago, Illinois

Elliot Spector
Center for Police and Security Training
Suffield, Connecticut

Ann Talbot
Albuquerque Police Department
Albuquerque, New Mexico

James T. "Tom" Thurman
Eastern Kentucky University
Richmond, Kentucky Additional Technical Working Group Members

Hal R. Arenstein
Law Offices of Hal Arenstein
Cincinnati, Ohio

Dexter J. Bartlett
Illinois State Police
Bureau of Crime Scene Services
Joliet, Illinois

Eric Buel
Vermont Department of Public Safety
Crime Laboratory
Waterbury, Vermont

Jeff Cover
Anne Arundel County Police Department
Millersville, Maryland

Elizabeth Devine
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
Scientific Services Bureau
Los Angeles, California

Henry Escobar
San Antonio Police Department
San Antonio, Texas

Jerry N. Estes
District Attorney General
10th Judicial District
Athens, Tennessee

James Estrada
San Antonio Police Department
San Antonio, Texas

Drew Findling
Law Offices of Drew Findling
Atlanta, Georgia

Nan Horvat/John Sarcone
Polk County Attorney's Office
Des Moines, Iowa

N. Michael Hurley
Oregon State Police
Forensic Services Division
Springfield, Oregon

Gary L. Kaldun
Bureau of Criminal Apprehension
St. Paul, Minnesota

Joe Marchan
Texas Department of Public Safety
Crime Laboratory
McAllen, Texas

Joseph John Moseley, II
Chicago Police Department
Chicago, Illinois

Robert Mullins
New Haven Police Department
New Haven, Connecticut

Steve Nash
Marin County Sheriff's Department
San Rafael, California

Kathryn Normington-Hollenbach
Wyoming State Crime Laboratory
Cheyenne, Wyoming

Galen Paine
Public Defender's Office
Sitka, Alaska

Michael J. Rafferty
Florida Department of Law Enforcement
Ft. Myers, Florida

Eugene Rifenburg
Oneida Nation Police
Munnsville, New York

Gary A. Rini
American Institute for Police Science
Elkhorn, Nebraska

Heidi Robbins
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
Los Angeles, California

Darrell Ryan
Nashville Police Department
Nashville, Tennessee

Norman Shapiro
New York State Defender's Association
Middletown, New York

Clarene Shelley
Lakewood Police Department
Lakewood, Colorado

Gregory Smith
Camden County Prosecutor's Office
Camden, New Jersey

Richard Stanek
Minneapolis Police Department
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Brad Townsend
Corona Police Department
Corona, California

Larry Turner
Jackson Police Department
Crime Laboratory
Jackson, Mississippi

Stephen Weichman
Teton County Attorney's Office
Jackson, Wyoming

James Wiser
Mount Pleasant Police Department
Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

Larry Wood
Smyrna Police Department
Smyrna, Georgia

John Yarbrough
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
Commerce, California