The Changing Face of Forensic Science: What Police Chiefs Need to Know about National Forensic Science Initiatives

Since the introduction of modern sciences into law enforcement in the late 1920s with what is called today “crime labs,” a tremendous revolution in the application of technology to fight and prevent crime has occurred. Much like the advent of advanced radio and GPS technology in patrol cars, forensic science has become an essential tool and aids in solving investigations in ways traditional approaches could not. Tremendous change has occurred in the forensic sciences in the decades that have passed—the two recently most notable areas are forensic DNA analysis and the investigation of computer crimes using digital forensics.

With these technological changes, however, has come greater scrutiny of forensic science. The fascination with crime scene investigations puts additional focus on those who are “in the trenches” day in and day out. With this increased attention, law enforcement executives and administrators need to be aware of some key changes that could affect the future of forensic science—whether the agencies provide their own forensic services or not.