Sometimes agencies just get to the point that they don't have any options other than to ask for help. We understand since we have all worked in government labs ourselves. Too many cases, too many trials to attend, too many "special requests". Too many tours, too many phone calls from irate investigators and prosecutors. It is just too much to handle with the staff you have, regardless of how hard or smart you work. Your lab manager can't fill the open positions due to hiring freezes or lack of qualified experienced candidates and the last thing you need right now is another trainee.
This is where RS&A can provide the solution to your unenviable position.

Even if you do have an open position for an experienced analyst, if you are like most of our clients, you don't really think you are going to fill the position anytime soon. You just need some short term "get after it" help to knock out a large number of unworked cases to reduce the stress on your unit for a while until you can regroup. Everyone has faced this condition in their career at some point. You just need a little help. We here at RS&A have identified a cadre of some of the finest, most credentialed, hard working forensic scientists in the industry to join together as high quality, high production teams for short term forensic assignments. We fully vet the team members and provide their credentials, to include recent external proficiency tests results, to any potential clients for review.

RS&A has been very successful in completing numerous forensic examination projects in  ISO 17025 accredited laboratories as well as non-accredited agency facilities at the federal, state and local levels. The key to our success is not only our access to a large volume of highly qualified forensic specialists, but our unique business infrastructure which can support multiple forensic projects simultaneously. Our company leadership, Quality Management Team, Project Management Team, along with our internal staff of Finance, HR, and Contract/Security professionals are experienced in managing multiple forensic projects for our many clients.

We are quite often asked, "Why do you think your RS&A examiners can work more cases than our examiners can in the same amount of time?" A fair question it is and the answer is pretty simple when you think about it.  When our examiners come on site they can remain totally focused on the casework directly in front of them without having to be constantly interrupted by lab meetings, phone calls and emails from investigators or prosecutors, personal communications and all the other myriad of daily interruptions which we all face when working in our home laboratory. If you were working as an RS&A team member in another laboratory, your production would be higher as well.

The second reason that an RS&A team of forensic scientists can produce a larger volume of casework than our host agencies is our project implementation schedule. After several years of employing various models, we have come to the firm conclusion that the very best, and most accurate, deployment of personnel is in eight day rotations on site with each day encompassing ten hours of analytical time. This results in a total of eighty (80) hours for each forensic scientist. We have determined that our fully qualified experienced scientists can remain totally focused for this period of time, keeping production at a maximum while keeping clerical mistakes to a minimum. No matter how good or strong an examiner thinks they are, there is a limit to how long they can remain totally immersed in a task or project, without it having an adverse effect. You know it and we know it.

Using this  method we can either rotate teams every eight days or use the same team for eight days every three or four weeks until the project is finished. Both options have worked well in the past.  Our team of RS&A forensic scientists come in quietly, work as many cases as called for under the contract, and then leave. No fanfare. No publicity. No disclosure of information from any RS&A team member. Our thanks is getting paid a fair wage for quality forensic work.

So in which forensic disciplines  can RS&A provide this on-site expertise?  Well, interestingly enough, once the business model was established and the project support framework proven reliable, there is no limit to what type of services can be provided.  The most time consuming, tedious, comprehensive tasks required to provide this level of service are not forensic related but rather business related.  If you are considering the use of an on site forensic service provider you should require that their own laboratory be ISO accredited, their forensic experts be fully credentialed, and the company be fully insured (Professional Errors & Omissions, General Liability, Workers Compensation, etc.). If a forensic service provider can meet these fundamental business and science related requirements then it is an indication of their ability to perform well in your laboratory. RS&A exceeds these basic requirements.

There are literally hundreds of highly qualified forensic professionals across the country who are available for short term assignments if they have a strong, ethical and dependable company with which to align themselves. RS&A is that type of company and we are able to provide on site forensic case working expertise in the following forensic disciplines: 

  • Firearms
  • Serology/DNA
  • Trace Evidence
  • Drug Chemistry
  • Toolmarks
  • Footwear/Tire Tracks
  • Toxicology
  • Latent Prints

We have an extensive list of qualified forensic scientists and the list is growing weekly as we seek out and vet additional experts for potential projects in the future. If your agency has the facility to accommodate a large volume of casework being conducted, then our on site service package may be a perfect fit for you!

RS&A also wants you to know that we have access to a large cadre of fully trained individuals to deal with those less exciting tasks which just seem to pile up in forensic units and laboratories. Such services as NIBIN entries and searching, AFIS/NGI entries and searching, clandestine laboratory cases, evidence vault inventory and dispositions, latent print evidence processing, and evidence photography are a perfect fit for our teams of rotating specialists.
RS&A is available for onsite services to include both Technical and Administrative Reviews. We understand what happens in labs when the Technical Leader, or one of your senior analysts, is out for an extended period of time such as maternity leave, an illness, or a special project.  Piles of cases may have been worked but can't be reported until the Tech/Admin reviews are completed. We can fully support your needs for days, weeks or months in any of the forensic disciplines previously noted. Your agency would have the opportunity to review the credentials of our contract personnel and reserve the right to approve or deny their participation. This is a unique service which RS&A is proud to offer to our clients nationwide.

There exist situations in which it is not possible to send your staff out of state for specific modules of instruction or a series of modules. You know they need the training but your agency can't handle it without some assistance. RS&A can customize a solution to your training needs by aiding you in the curriculum development, the implementation schedule, and the documentation of successful completion throughout the process to include module(s) testing. Through our extensive network of forensic professionals, we can locate the very best available instructor(s) and make it happen on your site.

We all know that in this day and age, any conflicting technical opinions between forensic specialists in the same agency are required to be documented and resolved. Although most agencies have a well defined "Conflict Resolution Policy" in their Quality and/or Operations Manuals, there is a need for a highly qualified, non-interested third party company, who can evaluate the evidence, arrive at the "best practices" conclusion, and work with the client agency to resolve the issue. RS&A has extensive experience in participating in these situations and employs a "team approach" to the resolution process. When you hire RS&A to assist in a conflict resolution project, you are getting the services of a team of fully credentialed forensic specialists, not just a single reviewing examiner. Not always does this result in every participant being happy with our third party opinion but you can rest assured that the RS&A conclusion will be thorough and completely supported by the evidence. Your agency will know that it is an opinion that is technically defensible from all perspectives.

RS&A is uniquely qualified to conduct thorough technical audits of forensic casework in all of the disciplines noted earlier. Both quality and quantity of casework can be evaluated. All agency heads want to know just how good their staff really is and if they could do more than they are doing currently, without sacrificing accuracy. RS&A knows how to answer those questions. These performance audits are nothing similar to the audits associated with accreditation, but rather are specifically focused on the quality of the work performed and the resources required to produce that amount of work. These audits will enable an agency to fully comprehend their level of liability based upon the accuracy of the work performed under their command. How far you "bury your agency's head under the sand" on the issue of quality is directly proportional to the amount of your agency's budget dollars you will be required to fork over in the lawsuit which will happen. Just ask Detroit, Houston, Boston, San Francisco, etc., etc., etc. No agency, even yours, is immune.

An RS&A technical performance audit not only addresses the strengths and weaknesses of individual forensic examiners but does the same for the each forensic unit as a whole. As we all are aware, the quality of a unit's work is only as good as the last level of internal review of the work. Our audit team reviews the actual internal case review processes employed in a client agency to determine if it is functioning as it should. In many agencies only a certain percentage of cases are fully reviewed or only cases which have resulted in a definitive conclusion of subject identification. We have found through conducting numerous audits that the only method which will enable an agency to determine if they have an acceptable  case review policy is to do a 100% review on a selected group of cases for each examiner and each reviewer. The results of this technical performance audit will answer that question.

Of particular interest to forensic management is the evaluation of examiner production that can be part of the performance audit process. Many laboratory managers are not trained in the forensic disciplines they are required to supervise so an evaluation of individual and unit production by an outside entity can be a very valuable resource when making staffing decisions.
One of the most tedious and time consuming tasks for forensic laboratories is the review and updating of all the manuals required under accreditation or to maintain a "best practices" operation. RS&A has teams of Quality Managers who can come to your agency, sit down with you to discuss your operation, and proceed with either a full review and update of your agency manuals or directly assist you in the development of new manuals, to include Safety, Quality and Operational Manuals for multiple forensic disciplines. This relieves your managers of this time consuming responsibility.

Regardless of the variety of forensic services  offered in a jurisdiction, there is one common thread which runs through them all, and that is the need for quality training in how to present quality expert witness testimony.  Jurors, judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys expect it and they all need it for the court system to work properly. Over the many years that RS&A instructors have been traveling across this country and abroad, the lack of high quality, standardized expert witness testimony training has been the single most consistent training deficiency observed. Some agencies will train their new employees on all the technical modules of their forensic discipline and just throw them into court with little or no training in how to effectively present their findings. Other agencies will have them undergo a moot court, thinking that this is enough. Haphazard, inconsistent, highly confrontational, disorganized attempts at expert witness training can potentially ruin an otherwise good trainee.

Occasionally, we will find an agency that really understands that good expert witness testimony is a learned skill which can, and should, be incorporated throughout the technical training of a new forensic employee.  There exist proven training methods which can be employed on site for all of an agency's staff members, not only the new trainees. RS&A has successfully provided multiple levels of expert witness testimony training in numerous forensic disciplines over the years and can bring this level of training to your laboratory or unit. You can ill afford to give your staff less testimony training than what is expected in today's highly scrutinized legal environment.
The RSA laboratory has initial discretion over the selection of items to be tested, and the appropriate methods for analysis.
© 2002 , Ron Smith & Associates, Inc.