Nancy Downing reappointed to Texas Forensic Science Commission

Governor Greg Abbott appointed forensic nurse from the Texas A&M College of Nursing for the Texas Forensic Science Commission
April 5, 2019

On April 4, Texas Governor Greg Abbott reappointed Nancy Downing, PhD, RN, SANE-A, associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Nursing, to the Texas Forensic Science Commission. Downing was one of four appointments made by the governor that day.

Since 2005, the commission has provided oversight for Texas crime laboratories and other entities conducting forensic analyses for use in criminal investigation and prosecution. Additionally, the commission accredits crime labs and licenses forensic analysts to ensure integrity, reviews conviction appeals based on potentially problematic forensic analyses or testimony and provides guidance in establishing procedures, policies and practices that improve the quality of forensic science in Texas and the nation.

The commission is also responsible for investigating allegations of professional negligence or misconduct that could potentially substantially affect a forensic analysis or legal outcome. They implement a reporting system through which persons report concerns related to negligence or misconduct.

The commission has nine members total—seven scientists and two attorneys. When Downing was first appointed in 2016, she was the first forensic nurse, forensic nurse scientist and educator to serve.

“I’m grateful to Governor Abbott and the General Counsel of the Commission for recognizing the important role of forensic nurses in supporting the integrity of the forensic science process,” said Downing.

She emphasizes forensic integrity in her role at the College of Nursing. “It is important that our students are mindful of the responsibility they have to provide patient-centered care while also adhering to the highest level of professional forensic standards,” Downing said. “Forensic nursing bridges the gap between health care and justice.”

The Forensic Nursing program at the College of Nursing prepares its students to care for victims and perpetrators of traumatic events or criminal acts that result in trauma or death. The classes taken within this program help nurses develop skills in trauma-informed health care and evidence collection in a clinical setting.

In addition to teaching the next generation of forensic nurses, Downing holds many appointments and positions in the field, including serving on the board of directors for the International Association of Forensic Nurses. Additionally, she is a member of the International Society of Nurses in Genetics, Sigma Theta Tau Nursing Honors Society, Brazos County Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Brazos Valley Trafficking and Exploitation Awareness Network and Brazos County Sexual Assault Response Team.

— Mary Leigh Meyer