12/17/2008 12:00 AM
TEEX Public Safety & Security has established the Forensic Science Academy, a broad-based, comprehensive program designed to train law enforcement personnel and civilians who work with law enforcement agencies assigned to process crime scenes. The Academy will also provide specialized seminars to educate attorneys and judges who hear these criminal cases.
"Currently, no other comprehensive forensic science training program like this exists in the state of Texas. In fact, only a handful of fragmented training opportunities exist nationwide," said Forensic Science Academy Training Coordinator Christine Ramirez. "The FSA will be the most comprehensive forensic science certificate program in the nation."
"Studies show Texas leads the nation in exonerations of those wrongly convicted," said Public Safety & Security Division Director Tom Shehan. "Training like this for law enforcement personnel assigned to process crime scenes, coupled with specialized seminars for attorneys and judges, could be the next step toward reversing this trend and relieving backlogged crime labs charged with analyzing collected evidence."
The Forensic Science Academy has three program levels: Forensic Technician (80 hours) will be launched in February 2009. Forensic Investigator (440 hours) will be available in August 2009, and Forensic Analyst (330 hours) is slated for 2010. Law enforcement personnel who successfully complete each training program will be required to perform a skills test referred to as a capstone exercise.
The successful completion of each certificate program will help law enforcement professionals become more selective in evidence collection and support better preservation of DNA evidence used to convict or exonerate those accused of crimes, Ramirez said.
"TEEX is poised to become the primary technical training resource for law enforcement continuing education in the forensic science training field," Shehan added. The program has received an agency investment of $500,000 to develop curriculum, and support from The Texas A&M University System Chancellor Mike McKinney and former Deputy Chancellor Jay Kimbrough. The Forensic Science Academy is a TEEX Exceptional Item Funding Request to the State Legislature.