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Within the criminal justice community, the high costs of the special pay and retirement benefits granted to law enforcement officers have prompted analysis of the need for officers to staff support positions. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) crime laboratory represents an untapped opportunity to achieve economies by replacing special agents with civilian examiners. Of the four major Federal crime laboratories, only the FBI uses special agents as laboratory examiners. The FBI believes that special agent examiners bring an extra dimension to the analysis of physical evidence. It claims that agent/examiners provide superior examination services, make better court witnesses, and perform better field support functions. These views are not fully shared by the heads of other Federal laboratories; nor are they supported by the users of the laboratories, the majority of the examiners, and Federal prosecutors.

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