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Indiana State Police Forensic Scientist of the Year Hails from Evansville

The Indiana State Police Forensic Scientist of the Year Award has been presented to Marcus Montooth of Evansville.

The award is presented annually to a Forensic Scientist within the Laboratory Division deemed to have consistently provided a superior quality forensic analysis service in a highly professional, proficient, and unbiased manner for the Indiana Criminal Justice Community.

Recently, at an awards ceremony held in Indianapolis, Superintendent Douglas G. Carter and his primary staff recognized Marcus Montooth for his work and dedication while presenting him with the Forensic Scientist of the Year Award.

Below is the nomination letter prepared by Major Steve Holland, Commander of the Indiana State Police Laboratory Division, recommending Montooth for the award.

In 2017 the Latent Print Identification Unit Supervisor, Forensic Scientist Marcus Montooth, and the staff under his supervision completed a very productive year. While working understaffed for most all of the year, and during a year in which the Laboratory Division underwent a reaccreditation assessment by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board, under the leadership of Mr. Montooth the Latent Print Identification Unit reduced its case backlog to record levels, taking it from nearly 600 cases to under 200 cases. The Unit also neared the 45 day turnaround goal for incoming cases as set by the Laboratory Division. The reduction in case backlog for this Unit is a remarkable achievement. The leadership and management efforts displayed and implemented by Mr. Montooth are to be recognized as having provided the direction, motivation, and support for his staff to have accomplished this achievement.

Mr. Montooth managed the case flow in a most efficient manner. He transferred cases between the four regional laboratories as the backlogs fluctuated at the individual laboratories. He made a proposal that ultimately modified existing policy that included allowing digital evidence to be received electronically, which has streamlined many latent print examinations. This organizational change should make an enormous positive impact on the way the Laboratory Division conducts workflow in the future. In fact, other crime lab systems outside the State of Indiana have asked for guidance on electronic evidence submissions since this protocol was first implemented here. This change not only affected the Laboratory Division internally, but it also positively affected those officers and agencies who previously had to deliver evidence over long distances to the Regional Laboratories. The contributors now have the option of submitting digital evidence electronically, which has provided cost savings and efficiency gains for all involved in the handling, submitting, and analyzing evidence. This type of policy and operational change is groundbreaking within crime laboratories across the nation.

Mr. Montooth implemented casework assessment measures that he shared with other supervisory staff within the Laboratory Division. These measures involved monthly self-assessments of analyst casework, and provided a means of motivational leadership to his staff by providing a routine opportunity for a self-assessment of work.

Mr. Montooth also completed another backlog reduction project that resulted in the implementation of policy for withdrawing open latent print examinations that are associated with DNA matches in the Combined Offender DNA Index System (CODIS). This new protocol eliminated conducting unnecessary analysis by his staff, which allowed personnel to work other cases in the backlog.

Mr. Montooth provided leadership and guidance with the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) program by implementing several improvements that included the use of Universal Latent Workstation training and the Unsolved Latent Match Project as part of the Next Generation Identification System. These initiatives resulted in 20 cold case matches in AFIS. As part of Mr. Montooth’s responsibilities with the computer refresh project, he also coordinated the purchase and installation of Biometric Connect software for his staff, and he evaluated the new Nitto Fingerprint Lifts for use by Department personnel.

Mr. Montooth provided leadership in another project that provided workflow efficiencies for the entire Indiana Criminal Justice Community. Mr. Montooth worked with a select few other Laboratory Division staff in deploying new electronic Property Record and Receipt and Request for Laboratory Examination forms. This project, which was outside of his normal duties and responsibilities, took much time and effort to see to a successful completion in December 2017. The project resulted in providing a more efficient and effective evidence management system by streamlining the processes of documenting, storing, and submitting evidence to the laboratories. Because of Mr. Montooth’s work on this project, implementing these new electronic and dynamic forms was accomplished internally at no additional cost to the laboratory’s operations. Users from the contributing agencies have routinely commented how much more efficient and effective the use of these forms provides to their needs with respect to time and detail with submitting evidence for analysis. Mr. Montooth was involved in every facet of this project—from conceptualizing, to designing, and to implementing—that included the training and trouble-shooting components. He took ownership of this important project, worked tirelessly, and spent many hours toward ensuring this project was successful to the benefit of the users.

Finally, Mr. Montooth attended the International Association for Identification (IAI) conference and was invited to be a part of a panel discussion on “Leadership in Forensics”. He was also asked to instruct at the Illinois chapter of the IAI on the topic of “Errors in Casework”, which is a topic Mr. Montooth has been a leader in within the field of latent print examinations for the past several years.

Forensic Scientist Montooth graduated in 2001 with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Evansville. He started his employment with the Indiana State Police Laboratory Division in April 2003 at the Evansville Regional Laboratory.

Forensic Scientist Montooth resides with his wife, Alicia, and their two sons in the Evansville, Indiana area.

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