Jobs You Won't See on CSI-Forensic Podiatry

By Russ Stover
Last time we talked about fingerprints, so its only fitting we switch ends and talk about feet. Forensic podiatry is a sub-discipline which uses the anatomy of the foot along with the dynamics of walking or running that are particular to each person like length of stride, depth of impression, turn and angle of foot, and form. The evidence can be foot impressions on the ground or in footwear, could be the impressions of the footwear, or a person's walk. There could be a bloody footprint left at a scene, for use in footprint profiling, or use in large disasters.
In 1786 in Scotland the impressions of boots left at the scene of the murder of a little girl were matched to those of a man attending her funeral. Podiatrists have been involved in cases since the 1970s. Just before Christmas 1989 James Styers and Roger Scott abducted and shot little Christopher Milke in Arizona. Some footprints were found at the scene in the desert and these matched shoes later found in a garbage bin.
Based on the podiatric evidence of the shoe size, impression, and deformations of the foot the suspects were placed at the scene. They and an accomplice were later given the death penalty. In England in 2008 a man was arrested based on video of his bow-legged walk which was matched to someone already known to police.
It used to be that the shoe had to be cut up to obtain the impression. In modern science a simple UV light shone on the insole of a shoe can show a footprint impression and a photo taken for comparisons. Despite this advance forensic investigators still take plaster casts of the impressions left behind using technology that has barely changed in decades.
As opposed to fingerprints forensic podiatry is a new science. It was only added and certified by the International Association for Identification (IAI) in 2008. Nevertheless, it has already spawned forensic podiatry classes and certifications at places like Temple University and has its own professional journal, Forensic Podiatry from Springer Press.
Pay: Forensic podiatrists are often normal podiatrists moonlighting to help police. As podiatrists pay can range upwards of $100,000 or more.
Training: Forensic podiatrists will be doctors of podiatry who have been in business for a number of years in order to gain the right expertise. There are a number of medical schools that offer the specialization. Some schools like Temple University, of course the American Society of Forensic Podiatry and the IAI mentioned above offer specialized training.
*And for sticklers out there I know they used forensic podiatry in one episode of CSI, but that's once in how many years across it and three clones of the show?

ASFD http://theasfp.org/aboutus.aspx
IAI http://www.theiai.org/

Hughes, V. "The Untrodden Path of Forensic Podiatry", PlosBlogs, http://blogs.plos.org/blog/2010/11/10/the-untrodden-path-of-forensic-podiatry/. Accessed 06/10/2011.

American Society of Forensic Podiatry. http://theasfp.org/aboutus.aspx

DiMaggio, John. "Forensic Podiatry". Evidence Technology. http://www.evidencemagazine.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=41&Itemid=49. Accessed 06/11/2011.

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1 comment:

  1. Forensic podiatry is not a 'sub-discipline'; it is an accepted forensic science recognised as such both in the UK and in the US. There are four main areas of the discipline based on the use of:
    • podiatrists' ante-mortem records
    • bare or socked footprints
    • wear and fitting features of footwear
    • gait patterns and features of gait
    Forensic podiatry should NEVER be carried out by 'normal podiatrists moonlighting to help police', as stated in the article above. Forensic podiatrists initially train as clinical podiatrists, but that's where the similarity ends. To be qualified as a forensic podiatrist takes many years of additional medico-legal training, forensic training and mentor ship, culminating in competency testing in the UK (to be rolled out as certification in the US). Police asking for assistance from a clinical ('normal') podiatrist may as well ask advice from their local car mechanic/hairdresser etc. See http://www.theiai.org/disciplines/podiatry/podiatry_role_and_scope.pdf for more information.


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