While teaching in Singapore, Ross had occasion to visit with Prof. Sunhil Sethi, Director of the Applied Sciences Group, Health Services Authority of Singapore. Prof Sunhil over sees all of the government labs in the country including the forensic science laboratory.
Prof. Sunhil posed an interesting question to Ross: What skills are necessary for a forensic examiner, particularly those doing comparative analysis? And what metric does one use to test such skills? Due to having a smaller forensic laboratory with fewer positions available, this is a major concern for him. Choosing the right candidate who has the greatest potential to be a successful examiner is imperative to the laboratory leadership.
As they discussed the issue, Prof. Sunhil indicated that academic training in and of itself does not guarantee the examiner will be successful. With regard to Bloodstain Pattern Analysis and certainly Crime Scene Analysis both agreed that some of the more important skill sets required were attention to detail, good problem solving skills and the ability to visualize patterns (of any nature). Although these skills can be taught to a certain level, if they are not innate – a natural part of the way the examiner thinks and operates - the examiner will likely struggle.
The Applied Sciences Group are seeking some form of metric/aptitude test(s) that might assist them in selecting examiner candidates. As an example, the two discussed an aptitude test utilized by the US Army Crime Laboratory Fingerprint Division in the 1980’s that tested pattern recognition. This is an interesting issue for those responsible for selecting examiners, one that may well have existing solutions in the social science fields.