Friday, November 5, 2010

Are Investigators Relying Too Much on Forensic Evidence?

Do Investigators Rely Too Much on DNA?

UCR Clearance Rates are Slipping

By: Joseph Giacalone

Do investigators currently rely on Forensic Science and DNA too much to help solve their crimes. I do and so does the Swinburn University of Technology in Australia.

What is happening to good "old fashioned" police work? I'll tell you what. The constant attack on eyewitness identification procedures has led investigators to rely heavily on forensics to satisfy the ever increasing appetite of the "CSI TV" trained jurors. How else can the police compete with television science fiction?

One would believe that clearance rates would be rising dramatically in the CSI Era, but they are not. What is the reason? The FBI's Uniform Crime Report shows (UCR) clearance for Murder has slipped into the low 60s percent for arrest where it was historically in the 70s. How can arrest clearance being going down with all of this new technology? There may be several. First, many police departments were downsized during the great recession and with that lost a lot of experience. The same result can be found with the mass retirements we have seen in the public sector with all of the talk of pension reform and cutting back of benefits. Many police officers / investigators got out when the getting was good. Can you blame them?

Who is left to carry the torch? Who is training our new wave of investigators? Are we training our new investigators are the questions that police administrators will be forced to answer with rising crime rates and slipping clearance rates.

Tell me your thoughts.


  1. Forensic science is the application of science to help solve legal questions. Fingerprints is one of many specialized parts of “forensic science,” it was discovered centuries ago and was known that there is no individuals with similar fingerprints. According to, a case study published in New Genetics and Society by Dr. Turney, an expert on the social impacts of forensics. She criticizes the forensic test that took place in the wake of the 2009 Victorian bushfire disaster. “She argues that investigators’ sole reliance on genetic factors in identifying the remains of the 173 victims caused unnecessary distress to families and undermined other approaches to victim identification including location, last minute telephone conversations and witness accounts.” She thinks that authorities’ reliance too much on DNA evidence, has gone too far and is undermining commonsense approaches to forensic evidence. She also says that as a community we seem to have lost our ability to apply other rational processes because the authorities put too much faith in DNA testing. In my opinion, it doesn’t matter how much investigators rely on forensic evidence, as long as it helps with solving the problems. Me Pa PSC 201

  2. I think that because of the “CSI Effect”, police and prosecutors feel the pressure to try and come up with forensic evidence. They feel as if modern juries will expect to see forensic evidence the way the TV dramas show them. The reality is that things might now always be that dramatic or that interesting. But this does not reduce a Jury’s expectations. The only option for police might be the education of the juries. People’s expectations of what will be presented during a trial need to be brought closer to the reality they will actually face. They need to make the public distinguish between the fantasy and reality.

  3. Neale. M (PSC 201, 1750-2105; tues, thurs)

    I agree with the opening statement of the article. The sentence that caught my eye included the word "common sense". Though procedure may clash with the practicality of many situations, if given the opportunity, I believe officials should grasp it and make use of it as best they can. This statement reiterates the claims that Dr.Swiney states "In putting so much faith in DNA testing, as a community we seem to have lost our ability to apply other rational processes". Aside from feeling empathetic towards the victims, in regards to the unnecessary steps and time wasted, I say that if the buckets full, don't add more water!

  4. PSC 201)

    I agree and disagree with stating that Investigators rely on so much on forensic science. Which is the reason why there are so many cold cases that occurred many years ago and are now being solved and justice years later. Going to the cold case of Nancy leslie and her murderer Richard Fugate. If it was investigated properly some more questions was asked maybe, they would have seen him at the seen of the crime. Investigating and questioning all suspects could have solved the case. In the modern days with forensic science thing can still slip through the cracks and people still get away with murders. So with forensic Science or without forensic science people will and can still get away with crimes. Jurors inthe majority of cases do rely on forensic science. Such as the CSI shows and even the law and order shows i have DNA samples that says this person was at this location. Case closed the person is guilty, makes it easier for them. To have someones life in your hands without getting a clear view on the outside evidence i doubt it. Yes TV makes it seem so easy but we all know it doesnt take 45 minutes to solve a case.

  5. DNA testing by way of oral swabs is by far the standard procedure of sample collection as it's really quick to perform; nevertheless DNA tests, such as paternity testing.

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