Volume 46, Issue 5 (September 2001)
Adherence of Forensic Odontologists to the ABFO Bite Mark Guidelines for Suspect Evidence Collection
Boards and associations within forensic science have long been accepted as vehicles for the development and dissemination of protocols and recommendations for practice. Recent controversies surrounding bite mark analyses have brought the methods and practices of forensic dentists to the attention of both the courts and the media. In the mid-eighties the American Board of Forensic Odontology developed guidelines for bite mark analysis in response to unfavorable commentaries on the discipline by legal observers.
The purpose of this study is to examine the adherence of board certified and noncertified forensic dentists to the guidelines for collection of evidence from bite mark suspects. A questionnaire was employed during an American Academy of Forensic Sciences meeting. Results showed that, in general, when the odontologists collected evidence they did adhere to the guidelines, although collection of salivary samples was not common. Of concern is the large number of odontologists who do not collect their own evidence from suspects. Police officers or other individuals often perform this task and therefore the guidelines must be disseminated to these groups to ensure that the maximum yield is obtained from bite mark evidence. A review of the materials used to collect evidence is also included with details of applications in forensic science.