FVTC prepares students for new trend in forensic science

November 25, 2013

From fox11online.com: “New industry trend in forensic science” — GRAND CHUTE – Many of you have likely seen the hit TV show Bones on FOX.

The program illustrates how evidence must be logged and secured to preserve its integrity.

An increasing interest in forensic science led Fox Valley Technical College to start an associate degree program in 2011.

A soon-to-be graduate, is finding her future with Grand Chute police is part of a new industry trend.

Back in 2011, Holly Schultz was watching FOX 11 when a live report caught her attention.

“They had kind of talked about some of the other trainings and forensic spotlights that they were doing here at the tech at the time, and that kind of sparked some interest with me,” said Schultz.

That segment spurred Schultz to enroll in the tech college’s forensic science program.

“People are more interested in forensics. Victims of crime, and people in the community, expect police officers to be doing more forensic related skills,” said FVTC Forensic Science instructor, Joe LeFevre.

LeFevre says the typical police academy training only provides eight hours of evidence training.

So the college created the degree program to enhance scientific expertise.

“Also seeing the trends utilized on the east and west coasts of going to civilians in the property and evidence room, and even civilians doing crime scene technician work,” LeFevre said.

The Grand Chute Police Department is believed to be the first agency in the state to take the leap in hiring a full-time evidence technician, without the typical police background.

“Holly is our latest hire in the property and evidence area,” said Chief Greg Peterson. “We’ve known that we needed to move in this direction, and hire a full time person probably for a couple of years now.” According to Peterson, “There’s a lot of trust involved because back in this room, you’re in the property room, you know how secluded it is, there are large quantities of cash, there are drugs, there is jewelry.”

Not only will Schultz be responsible for around 10 thousand pieces of physical evidence which have passed through these lockers, she will also be trained as a crime scene technician.

“It’s one of the reasons why the forensic science program at the tech is appealing to us, because that’s the type of training and education that they get. It prepares them for that type of field work,” Peterson said.

Schultz interned at the department before her hire last month, and has already done quite a bit.

“I’ve been to a few, and kind of a variety of scenes. I also help with their property and evidence department, making sure evidence is submitted correctly, that it’s packaged properly, that it’s stored properly,” Schultz said.

That includes evidence from major cases, such as the Road Star Inn homicide last year.

“I have been helping with the discovery process with that, and making sure that evidence for that gets submitted to the lab,” said Schultz.

Peterson says using sworn officers is tradition, but he thinks in time demand will grow for people with specialized skills, like Schultz.

“You’ll see more agencies in the future moving in that direction. But it hasn’t taken off in a grand way yet in this particular area,” Peterson said.

However, LeFevre tells me a number of police chiefs and sheriffs, are exploring the idea of a civilian evidence technician.

“We need somebody in there full time, who that’s their only job and their only mindset. And so it pays a chief to get a civilian in there, so they can get another officer out on the street, and not have them stuck in the basement of the police department,” said LeFevre.

Schultz is just thrilled to have finally landed her dream job.

“I can’t even begin to describe how awesome it is,” said Schultz, who graduates next month.

Fox Valley Technical College says it’s forensic science program is the only one of its kind at the two-year college level in the state.

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