Fifteen forensic practitioners from around the country completed a comprehensive latent print examiner training program at NFSTC last week. The NIJ-funded program was conducted over nine months starting in October 2011.
The program took entry-level examiners from learning the basic theory of friction ridges to completing their mock International Association for Identification (IAI) certification exams. The IAI is the certifying body for this discipline and professionals strive to earn this designation. During the program, the group completed a total of 6,000 instructor-led hours and close to 2,500 pre/post coursework hours online and at their agency.
“I feel very fortunate to have participated,” said Cassie Boldt of the St. Louis Police Department. “It’s an amazing opportunity – I gained the solid foundation that you need for this field and I’m looking forward to putting what I learned into practice.”
For the instructor-led portions of the program, trainees visited NFSTC’s facilities in Largo, FL for two weeks every two months. Participants demonstrated a real commitment to their education as they were away from their families and workplace for an extended period.
“Everyone involved with the program was extremely positive and provided a real attitude of ‘yes, you can,’ not ‘no, you can’t’,” said Garry Szabo, of the Tulsa PD Forensic Laboratory.
“Prior to starting the program, I worked as a document examiner for 15 years. During that time I probably completed one of these types of courses per year. We took 11 in 9 months. So it was a great resume builder as well.”
In addition to providing glowing reviews of the training, most participants appreciated building relationships with fellow trainees from around the country.
“This course was not only valuable for the information provided, but for the relationships I built among the examiners,” said Mara Iocolano of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. “Now it’s like I have family in the field.”
The program wrapped up with trainees participating in moot court exercises. They were questioned on the stand by latent print experts acting as defense attorneys and prosecutors, allowing them to practice the skills needed to be an expert witness in court.
We congratulate this hard-working group of latent print examiner trainees on successfully completing this intensive program and wish them well in their future endeavors.
This training program was provided at no cost to eligible applicants in partnership with the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), Cooperative Agreement Award #2010-DN-BX-K265.