What is SWGTREAD?

SWGTREAD is the Scientific Working Group for Shoeprint and Tire Tread Evidence

The formation of SWGTREAD was initiated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to standardize and advance the forensic analysis of shoeprint (footwear) and tire tread evidence. The first meeting took place in Quantico, VA in September 2004.

The mission of SWGTREAD is to provide a professional forum where forensic footwear and tire tread examiners can share knowledge, evaluate practices, develop standards, identify research needs and disseminate information.

What type of examinations does a footwear and tire tread expert perform?

The discipline of footwear examination encompasses a wide variety of tasks that may include:

  • Crime scene response for the detection, documentation, collection and preservation of footwear impressions
  • Comparison of crime scene impressions with known footwear
  • Use of a crime scene impression to determine possible make/model, size, or type of footwear
  • Preparation of written reports on findings
  • Courtroom testimony
  • Training of forensic personnel, police and members of the legal community in matters related to  footwear evidence and examination

The discipline of tire tread examination encompasses a wide variety of tasks that may include:

  • Crime scene response for the detection, documentation, collection and preservation of tire tracks
  • Comparison of crime scene impressions with known tires
  • Calculation of track width, turning diameter and wheel base measurements 
  • Use of a crime scene impression to determine possible brand/model of a tire
  • Preparation of written reports on findings
  • Courtroom testimony
  • Training of forensic personnel, police and members of the legal community in matters related to tire tread evidence and examination

What are the requirements for obtaining employment in the footwear and tire tread disciplines?

Requirements for hiring vary depending on the specific agency/company with which you are seeking employment; however, the Scientific Working Group for Shoeprint and Tire Tread Evidence (SWGTREAD) has established a Guide for Minimum Qualifications and Training for a Forensic Footwear and/or Tire Tread Examiner.

What topics should be covered when training in the footwear and tire tread disciplines?

The topics covered in a training program will vary depending on the needs of the employer and the specific job duties assigned.

The International Association for Identification (IAI) publishes a "Recommended Course of Study for Footwear and Tire Track Examiners" which provides an excellent framework for training.

Is there a certification program for the footwear and tire tread examiners?

The International Association for Identification (IAI) provides a certification program for footwear examiners. The Canadian Identification Society (CIS) also provides a footwear certification program.

The IAI Crime Scene certification and American Board of Criminalistics (ABC) certifications cover certain aspects of footwear examination in addition to other topics.

There is currently no certification program for tire tread examinations.

What standards or best practices have been established for footwear and tire tread examinations?

SWGTREAD has established guides and standards for various aspects of footwear and tire tread examinations. These are available on the SWGTREAD website.

Where can I find information to help in preparation for an admissibility hearing regarding footwear or tire tread evidence?

Resources for admissibility hearings related to footwear and tire tread evidence can be found on the SWGTREAD website.

What is SWGTREAD’s position on ACE-V?

Methodology describes the organizing principles followed during the examination and comparison process.  SWGTREAD does not take a position on the use of the acronym “ACE-V” to describe the method.

Where can I find information regarding research projects that are needed by the footwear and tire tread examiner community?

SWGTREAD acknowledges the role that research plays in furthering the science of analysing footwear and tire tread impression evidence. SWGTREAD maintains an on-going list of recommendations for research including topics such as collection and preservation, class characteristics, identification, quality assurance and innovation. Visit the Research section of the SWGTREAD website for more information.

How can I find a laboratory, company, or private practice examiner to conduct an examination?

Many local, county, state, and federal laboratories can provide forensic examinations of footwear and tire tread evidence.  If this is not an option, a simple internet search should provide the names of private companies and private examiners who can provide the service for a fee.  It is strongly suggested you carefully review the qualifications (e.g., training, experience, and/or certification) of any examiner retained. Refer to the SWGTREAD Guide for Minimum Qualifications and Training for a Forensic Footwear and/or Tire Tread Examiner.

How do I determine if a witness is qualified to perform examinations and/or testify regarding footwear and tire tread conclusions?

The witness should be able to provide documentation of their training and experience related to the examinations performed and the testimony to be given in the particular case.

Refer also to the SWGTREAD Guide for Minimum Qualifications and Training for a Forensic Footwear and/or Tire Tread Examiner.

How can I search a crime scene impression to discover the make and model of the footwear or tire that made the impression?

Many local, county, state, and federal laboratories provide this service. If this is not an option, you may be able to find a private company or examiner who will provide this service for a fee. Additional information regarding make/model search for both footwear and tires is available in the resources section of the SWGTREAD website.

What resources are available for me to learn more about footwear and tire tread examination?

SWGTREAD maintains a list of journals, books , and organizations related to the footwear and tire tread disciplines.