Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The National Commission on Forensic Science Looks Toward the Future

Phil Pulaski is an experienced law enforcement professional who served more than 33 years with the New York City Police Department (NYPD), ultimately retiring in 2014 as the chief of detectives. Among his other accomplishments, Phil Pulaski is extremely well versed in forensic science, and managed all NYPD physical evidence programs including the multi-agency “Forensic Initiative”, and the NYPD’s uniformed Evidence Collection Teams that annually collected more than 30,000 items of DNA evidence and 5,000 items of fingerprint evidence. During December 2013, Phil Pulaski was selected to serve as a commissioner on the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Commission on Forensic Science (NCFS).

For a period of four years, the NCFS diligently worked to improve the practice of forensic science by developing guidance concerning the intersection between forensic science and the criminal justice system. The NCFS also worked to develop policy recommendations for the U.S. Attorney General, including uniform codes for professional responsibility and requirements for laboratory accreditation and forensic scientist certification. The NCFS also worked in partnership with the National Institute of Standards and Technology to refine operational practices and improve overall reliability within the forensic sciences.

Although the federal charter of the NCFS expired on April 23, 2017, the Commission released a final business document that identified the important work that other agencies and organizations must address going forward. Entitled “Reflecting Back-Looking Toward the Future,” this document summarized the many accomplishments of the NCFS and then described the work that still remained to be done. Among the recommendations, the NCFS called upon qualified individuals and organizations to promulgate nationally accepted forensic analysis standards, address context and cognitive bias, implement policies to promote a uniform code of professional responsibility and address rapidly evolving technological advancements in the field of digital forensics.