FDE or QDE – What am I?

I do not keep track of the number of times I am asked what I do and I respond with the commonly accepted title of Forensic Document Examiner, only to be met with either a puzzled look or the sudden recognition of the word, forensic, and a long diatribe about loving CSI, Las Vegas. (My apologies to my colleague, Jan Kelly at the Las Vegas document lab.) Now, I like CSI as much as the next guy, but I can hardly relate to my job being quite as glamorous as is portrayed on television. For the purposes of garnering admiration and respect (lol), I will sometimes allude to what I do as the “CSI of documents.” But, multicolored lighting is conspicuously missing in my lab and rarely do I wear a clean white lab coat. Most of my work takes place in a simple office with our state-of-the-art equipment. Although I have to say, I have visited a crime scene to memorialize some hate graffiti at the home of a spouse in a gruesome divorce. (It’s nice to get out once in a while.)Forensic Document Examiner

My office partner, Manny Gonzales is a former law enforcement officer and private investigator. He sometimes refers to us as being forgery detectives. That’s a moniker that most can relate to, but we reserve it for casual conversation with laypeople. We are experts in handwriting and also in determining the origin and production methods of documents, including whether any tampering or alterations have been made in the process. All of these skills demand an inquiring mind and a full mental databank of comparison material from which to draw.

In the “old days” of law enforcement,  any document that was suspected of being non-genuine was labeled, “Questioned.” Therefore, we handwriting experts/document examiners were referred to as Questioned Document Examiners. As the name implies, we examined documents in question. Once the word, “forensic” became the popular label applied to evidence analysis, the word, “questioned”  was dropped from the descriptor in favor of our current title, Forensic Document Examiner. In the interest of preserving a bit of history, however, I have retained the QDE as part of an email address and as the license plate on my work vehicle.

For more information or help with your document examination you may wish to contact me at Forensic QDE Lab, llc in Escondido, CA. 888-760-0339