Patrolman Shane Hightower of the Cherokee Village Police Department graduated June 18 from the Crime Scene Technician Certificate Program (CSTCP), Session X, at the Criminal Justice Institute, University of Arkansas System.
Patrolman Hightower completed this six-month program by attending a three-day course each month, from January through June, at the institute. The program consists of 133 hours of classroom instruction and covers major aspects of crime scene investigation, such as crime scene photography, latent print processing, impression evidence, biological and trace evidence, and crime scene sketching, note taking and report writing.
Nineteen officers representing 18 different law enforcement agencies from around the state graduated from this unique program. The CSTCP is unlike any other program in the country and is designed to provide the participants with a basic, but solid foundation in processing crime scenes for physical evidence. Class participants are required to successfully complete a written and practical examination at the conclusion of each course as well as a comprehensive written final exam. To graduate from this program, officers were also required to demonstrate proficiency in processing an indoor and outdoor crime scene as well as a vehicle. Students were instructed, evaluated and mentored by some of the best crime scene investigators in the country.
"The chiefs and sheriffs who nominated and supported their officer to attend this program should be commended for their investment, not only in the agency, but also the future safety of their community," Jim Clark, director of the Criminal Justice Institute said. "We are very grateful for the confidence law enforcement executives from across the state have expressed in the program."
Hands-on exercises are the key to this course. Ensuring that officers learn through actual participation in a classroom environment increases their ability to perform in real case situations. In a controlled classroom environment, officers are provided with the "how to" information and then allowed to put that knowledge to work in simulated crime scenes and exercises where successes, as well as errors and mistakes, can be analyzed and different approaches to solving problems examined.
"A major emphasis in this program is placed on ensuring that the law enforcement officers participating in this unique program can recognize valuable physical evidence and appropriately secure, protect, document, collect and preserve evidence," said Cheryl May, assistant director of the Criminal Justice Institute. "In doing so, our graduates can maximize the value of this evidence in a criminal investigation and, consequently, help improve the quality of life of the citizens they serve by solving more crime."