A Forensic Measurement Device is Not an X Box

In forensic science there are many analytical instruments that are used to identify and quantify. For example, there is Gas Chromatography and Breath Testuing Devices (infrared spectroscopy or electrochemical) in DUI.

When these devices are deployed in the field or in the laboratory, they are not properly deployed.

What we have in forensic science is simple “plug and play” like one would do for an X-Box One or something like that. Well, we are not playing games, we are using a measurement on an analytical instrument whose measurements are used as the only evidence of an essential element of the crime to convict and incarcerate.

What happens in the regulated analytical chemistry world such as the EPA and FDA is  vastly different. Before new equipment is deployed there must be an Equipment Qualification Plan (EQP) in place. It covers Design Qualification (DQ), Installation Qualification (IQ), Operational Qualification (OQ), scheduled repeat OQ, Performance Qualification (PQ), and Re-Qualification after Repair (RQ).

Equipment validation protocol consists of the following:

Vendor/Manufacturer’s Responsibility:

  • Design Specification (DQ),

Individual Laboratory’s Responsibility:

  • Installation Qualification (IQ)-documents that the correct instrument was received and installed properly
  • Operational Qualification (OQ)-tests that the instrument meets specifications in the user environment, and
  • Performance Qualification (PQ)-tests that the system performs the selected application correctly

Where is this in forensic science?

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