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DC Forensic Sciences Department new board created to better serve DC residents

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Today it has been announced that the charter members of the Science Advisory Board for the District of Columbia’s Department of Forensic Sciences have been sworn in and have elected Irv Litofsky, Director of Forensic Services for the Baltimore County Police Department as the first chairman of the body.

The Board is required by District law to meet at least four times per year with duties that include reviewing allegations of professional misconduct or errors in the provision of forensic science services at DFS; reviewing program standards and protocols related to Department operations and make recommendations regarding desirable changes; and to advise the DFS Director, Mayor or DC Council on matters relating to the Department or forensic science.

The group of scientists met for the first time on April 18 for a day-long session in the Hayward Bennett Room at the Consolidated Forensic Laboratory. The day’s proceedings started with the nine members being sworn in by Darryl Gorman, director of D.C.’s Office of Boards and Commissions.

DFS Director Max Houck gave the group an overview of his agency, then led the nine Board members on an extensive tour of the Consolidated Forensic Laboratory, which is LEED-certified Platinum. Along the way, they met all of the Department’s Deputy Directors and Division Directors.

“We were very impressed not only with the state-of-the-art laboratory facilities, but also with the progress made by the management team in assembling a working forensic laboratory,” said Board Chairman Litofsky.

After a working lunch, Dr. Houck and DFS Deputy Director Chris Maguire spent the afternoon conducting for the Board members a review of existing programs and future plans at the agency.

“The Board looks forward to working with the staff of the D.C. Consolidated Forensic Laboratory as we add new laboratory operations and improve existing processes in order to better serve the public interest,” Litofsky said.

The Board will meet again this summer. The Science Advisory Board consists of the following members:

Dr. Clifton Bishop is a biologist at West Virginia University. His positions there included Curriculum Coordinator then Director for Forensic and Investigative Science, as well as Associate Chair, Biology. He earned his Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Virginia and served post-doctoral fellowships at the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health.

Joseph Bono is the former Forensic Laboratory Director for the United States Secret Service. His previous service includes the Drug Enforcement Administration, Naval Investigative Service, and the St. Louis (Mo.) County Police. He also worked as a Forensic Chemist for the NIS in Washington, DC, San Diego, Calif., and Honolulu, Hawaii. He has a Masters in Political Science from the University of Missouri.

Dr. Michael Coble has served in multiple capacities at the National Institute of Standards and Technology as well as The Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory. He is a Forensic Biologist in the Applied Genetics Group at NIST. Dr. Coble’s professional memberships include the American Society of Human Genetics and the International Society of Forensic Genetics. He earned his Ph.D. in Genetics from The George Washington University.

Dr. William Grosshandler is an engineer who spent more than 20 years at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the last four as Deputy Director for Building and Fire Research. He also spent 16 years as a Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Washington State University. A former Chair of the International Forum of Fire Research Directors, Dr. Grosshandler earned his Ph.D. in engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.

Irv Litofsky (Chairman) is Director of Forensic Services for the Baltimore County Police Department. He got his start there in 1974 as a Crime Laboratory Technician, leaving three years later to spend the next 18 years working as a chemist. He returned to the Baltimore County Police in 1996 and has run their Forensic Services section since 2003. Mr. Litofsky has a Masters in Forensic Science from the George Washington University and his affiliations include the American Chemical Society and the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

Peter Marone retired last year after six years as Director of the Virginia Department of Forensic Science, where he had worked for 35 years. He also taught Forensic Science at Virginia Commonwealth University for more than 30 years. He has a Masters in Forensic Chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh.

Dr. Jay Siegel is a consultant and former Chair of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Indiana University, Purdue University Indianapolis. Before that, he was Professor and Director, Forensic and Investigative Sciences Program at IUPUI. And prior to his tenure there, Dr. Siegel was Director of the Forensic Science Program at Michigan State University. He is a Fellow with the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry from The George Washington University.

Dr. Charlotte Word, a biologist and DNA expert, is a consultant in Human DNA Identification testing and has performed technical reviews on several thousands of cases from public and private DNA testing laboratories. Dr. Word also has participated in the validation of several DNA test systems. She earned her Ph.D. in Microbiology, with specialties in Molecular Biology and Immunology, from the University of Virginia.

Dr. Sandy Zabell is a Professor of Mathematics and Statistics at Northwestern University. Among his editorships was 16 years on the Editorial Board of Cambridge Studies in Probability, Induction, and Decision Theory. Dr. Zabell has also done extensive work for the Institute for Defense Analyses. He has a Ph.D. in Mathematics from Harvard University.

Forensic Scientists process evidence that identifies persons suspected of crimes. The forensic analysis is vital because scientific analysis is free of human bias or prejudice. Many falsely accused citizens have been released from prison after DNA and forensic evidence has proven they were innocent of the charges brought against them.

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