BRYAN, TEXAS – Over the past 10 years, more than 26,000 law enforcement officers and crime scene personnel have enhanced their expertise in crime scene investigation, death investigation and evidence management, thanks to the Texas Forensic Science Academy at the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX).
The Academy’s science-based training aims to increase the effectiveness of crime scene investigations by providing cutting-edge technology and hands-on field exercises to include the proper collection, packaging, storage and analysis of physical evidence.
“The proper processing of crime scenes is critical, and crime scene investigation is the basis of criminal casework that determines verdicts of guilt or innocence,” said Christine Ramirez, Training Manager and Founder of the Texas Forensic Science Academy. “Lack of training in current forensic techniques and methodologies can lead to ineffective crime scene investigations, case backlogs in crime laboratories and even wrongful convictions.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott recently issued a proclamation recognizing the 10th anniversary of the Texas Forensic Science Academy, and applauding its “commitment to enhancing the expertise and professionalism of our state’s crime scene investigators.” The Academy was established in 2009 to provide sound scientific forensics techniques and methodologies for traditional law enforcement officers and non-commissioned personnel responsible for the investigation of crime scenes, as well as medical examiners, forensic nurses, judges and attorneys.
Thanks to grant funding from the Texas Governor’s Criminal Justice Division, the Academy has developed a suite of online courses to augment its instructor-led training. Online courses allow law enforcement officers in small departments to access continuing education without incurring travel costs and other expenses associated with traditional face-to-face training.
All academy courses are approved for continuing education credit by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE). In addition, many courses are approved by the International Association for Identification (IAI) as continuing education toward international certification. Academy students may also earn college credit through the Blinn College District and the American Council on Education (ACE). The Texas Forensic Science Academy is the most comprehensive forensics program in the state, and the only one with a professional certificate program, Ramirez pointed out.
The Academy offers six certificates for law enforcement officers and non-commissioned personnel: Forensic Technician, Forensic Investigator I, Forensic Investigator II, Forensic Fire Investigator, Major Crimes Investigator, and Property and Evidence Management. The newest certificate, Forensic Investigation and Evidence Management, is offered in conjunction with Blinn College, where co-enrolled students also earn 18 hours of college credit. Besides offering training at the college level, the Academy also offers basic forensics courses to high school students to prepare them for a future career in forensic science.
Rhonda Redden, former crime scene investigator with the Hutto Police Department, said she learned the technical aspects of scene investigation at the Academy, which allowed her department to conduct independent investigations as well as be an investigative asset for surrounding agencies. “It has just been phenomenal to be able to work with them and assist them and apply what I’m learning,” she said. She was able to assist in a multi-jurisdictional shooting investigation that spanned several cities. “There were so many things that I’d learned through the TFSA (Texas Forensic Science Academy) that I was able to use. It was great to have the training foundation and then be able to apply it.”
The Texas Forensic Science Academy is one of eight members of the national Forensic and Crime Scene Investigation Consortium (FCSIC), which is made up of universities and institutions with a broad array of competencies, infrastructure and subject matter expertise.
About TEEX’s Institute for Law Enforcement & Protective Services Excellence
TEEX has offered law enforcement extension training in Texas since 1942, and has operated a Basic Peace Officer School since 1953. The Institute for Law Enforcement & Protective Services Excellence operates the Texas Forensic Science Academy and TEEX Corrections Academy, and offers other licensing and certificate programs and continuing education in a wide array of topics. Its law enforcement and corrections training is approved for credit by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE), and many programs are eligible for college credit. For more about its forensics training, visit: teex.org/forensics
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TEEX Institute for Law Enforcement and Protective Services Excellence