Volume 43, Issue 1 (January 1998)
A First Assessment of the Reliability of an Improved Scent Identification Line-up
To properly evaluate different forensic techniques, it is important to know how reliable these different techniques are. The reliability of scent identification line-ups is unknown. The purpose of this study was to describe, and employ, a reliability testing method for scent identifications using trained police dogs and a novel scent identification procedure. Two kinds of experiments were prepared: suspect = perpetrator experiments, and suspect ≳ perpetrator experiments. Six dog/handler teams participated in 10 experiments, five of each kind. The reliability of an identification, or the diagnostic ratio, is the percentage correct identification in suspect = perpetrator experiments divided by the percentage false identification of the suspect in suspect ≳ perpetrator experiments. Factors that influence the reliability of scent identifications are discussed, and the results of the scent identifications are compared with recent reliability estimates of other forensic techniques.