Forensic Science The word forensic is derived from the Latin word forensic— a reference to Roman court forums in which evidence of wrongdoing was presented. Modern use of the term forensics refers to scientific principles and processes that are applied in the analysis of evidence for legal purposes. Alternatively known as criminalistics, forensics involves using sophisticated techniques and tools to identify, collect, analyze, preserve, and present evidence of crimes or civil wrongdoing in legal proceedings, as well as to verify identification of deceased individuals. The essential goal of forensics analysis is to verify connections between two or more physical items, for example, the blood of a homicide victim to that found on clothes worn by a suspect. Forensics involves analysis of many other types of evidentiary items such as prescription and illicit/illegal drugs, metals, glass, plastics, fuels, paints, tire/shoe prints, tool/tool marks, and latent substances such as synthetic fibers, human hair, and animal fur, among others. Modern forensics began with nineteenth-century efforts of Alphonse Bertillon (1853–1914), director of the Bureau of Criminal Identification of the Paris (France) Police Department, to classify and identify criminals on the basis of their physical characteristics. In 1888 Francis Galton proposed a fingerprint classification method after which fingerprinting was first used for criminal identification by Scotland Yard investigators in 1901, and by New York City detectives in 1902. By 1930 the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the U.S. Department of Justice had established a national fingerprint classification system, and in 1946 the FBI created its Identification Division that relied extensively on burgeoning fingerprint records for suspect identification in criminal cases. Since then the FBI lab has helped solve thousands of criminal cases using many forensics analysis methods, and is among the largest and most technologically capable forensic laboratories in the world.
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