Tuesday, March 15, 2011

IAI Forensic Video Certification Announcement

This just in from the IAI: "The International Association for Identification (IAI) Video Certification Study Committee is announcing a certification in Forensic Video.

IAI certifications conform with Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board, Inc. (FSAB) requirements for certification programs. The IAI certification guidelines require an initial certification test to seat the first Forensic Video Certification board, which will consist of participants selected by the IAI President who have passed this initial test. In addition to the board, those that are not selected to sit on the certification board will be certified for a term of five years.

This initial test will consist of a written examination only. The practical portion will be prepared by the first board. All participants who take this initial test will be required to take and pass the subsequent practical within two years of receiving certification or the certification will be voided and revoked.

Once a video certification board is seated, subsequent tests will consist of both a written test and a practical. The goal is to have the next test (including the practical portion produced by the certification board) at the IAI conference on August 7-13, 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. IAI membership is not required for certification, but is necessary for participation on the Forensic Video Certification board. As the overall goal of this first test is to seat a video certification board, please strongly consider offering to be selected to sit on the board ..."

Confused? It sounds like the first test is being given to create a panel that will create the actual test. So, if you want certification from the IAI, but you don't want to sit on the creation panel ... chances are the IAI won't choose you for one of the limited spots at the testing centers next month.

Next month? Yes, next month. The tests are just a month away. If you want to get involved, you have one month to find the recommended texts, prepare, book flights/rooms, etc - and get your application package together and approved by the IAI. So, if you really want to sit on this panel, you best get your application in today (if you aren't an IAI member and you want to be on the panel - what are the chances of getting your membership approved in time? - but I digress). There's no indication as to when interested parties will be notified that they've been accepted. Given the current state of fuel prices, airline fares are through the roof. This factor alone may limit representation to those within driving distance to Las Vegas and the DC Metro area. Coincidence?

I'll leave the fact that the first recommended book's been out of print for over 10 years and copies of the recommended edition are a rare find on the internet. There's no indication if earlier editions are acceptable - given that the questions will likely come word for word out of the books. I'm guessing that the feeling of the IAI is that anyone interested in creating the certification tests should already have these "holy" books. If you don't, and you want to join the process - you'll have to fight it out at Amazon and Abe for the few copies there are out there.

What concerns me most about the process is the lack of "community involvement." By that, I mean there are many who are involved in the discipline at a "high level" who could be called upon to help craft this certification. People with a wealth of experience in not only the fundamentals of CCTV and video (the recommended reading focusses almost entirely on video/CCTV theory - along with the flip book) but also with the LAW. Assuming that a IAI certified forensic video analyst will eventually end up in court with his/her work product, I'd feel more comfortable with a test that covers the breadth of our experience.

Better still, think of the way the SWGs and the IACP, and other groups work. They go out and find the stakeholders, policy makers, movers, shakers, etc ... and put them in a room together. Some big agency funds the meetings so that smaller agencies aren't excluded from providing valuable input. (will the IAI pay for the panel's continuing participation? there's no indication - and that funding commitment is critical for many agencies) They go forward and produce valuable products. Think the flip book, the SWGs, and the standards that IACP/NIJ/NIST help put out. Here, if you want in ... you or your agency has to pony up the funds for the trip and the test. I'm a big fan of inclusive policies - and this isn't inclusive.

The other issue that begs asking is this - does the industry necessarily need another certification? The LEVA CFVA program has been around for a while now and they've added the technician level certification. Is competition for our scarce resources a good thing or a bad thing at this point? Is the IAI necessarily saying that there's something wrong with the LEVA program by introducing their own? As small a community as we are, are we better divided or united in pursuing standards and certification? Do I really need to pay dues to another group?

And speaking of dues ... out here the IAI's image related educational offerings are limited to a latent print imaging specialist showing folks how to use Photoshop to develop latent prints - and use his plug-ins. Certification needs a supporting cast of continuing education. Will the IAI expand their educational offering? I was a member for years, but cancelled recently - frustrated over the lack of video/DME related educational programs. IAI is known for LP, Crime Scenes, and Photos. Is their bench deep enough to pull off Video/DME?

Since the announcement on the list last week, I've received not a few queries about this new certification - the bulk of which are encapsulated in this post. I'd be interested to know if you are planning on attending - how easy the process is/was for you. If you aren't attending and you are qualified - why not.


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