Air Force Criminal and Forensic Investigations (World of Forensic Science)
Forensic investigations are a part of the military as much as civilian life. Military investigations can take on added importance, since the use of firearms, explosives, and other high-risk tools are more prevalent than in civilian life. A military forensic investigation, such as in the U.S. Air Force, can help root out an anomaly, criminal or otherwise, that would otherwise threaten other service personnel.
A branch of the U.S. Air Force that is concerned with forensic science is the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. The AFOSI is the principal investigative service of the United States Air Force. Its ranks, which numbered over 2,500 in 2005, include active-duty Air Force personnel, reservists, and civilians.
Established in 1948 by then United States Secretary of the Air Force W. Stuart Symington, AFOSI is charged with investigating and preventing criminal activities by United States Air Force personnel, as well as by individuals outside the Air Force whose actions threaten the service's equipment, personnel, activities, or security.
Symington patterned the new office after the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and appointed Special Agent Joseph Carroll, assistant to FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, as the first AFOSI chief. Symington and Carroll developed an investigative service designed to provide unbiased information and operate independent of top air force command. To this end, the AFOSI included civilian personnel from the beginning.
Among the crimes addressed by AFOSI investigators are murder, robbery, rape, drug use and trafficking, black-market activities, and other unlawful acts committed by or against U.S. Air Force personnel. Economic crime, or fraud, is an area of investigation that places particularly large demands on AFOSI resources. AFOSI includes personnel with specialized missions and skills who fulfill functions ranging from that of polygrapher to computer expert to behavioral scientist.
SEE ALSO Aircraft accident investigations; Flight data recorders.