DNA Experts Train Local Officers

OCTOBER 9, 2006 -- POSTED AT 8:15 P.M. CDT

JONESBORO,AR -- Officers from 6 local police agencies returned to the classroom, but not for your average training. They're learning about DNA and what they can do to help solve crimes right here at home. Two experts from the Phoenix, Arizona Police Department came to Jonesboro to teach local officers about DNA at a crime scene.

"The first officers to get out to the scene and even the citizens who are involved in a crime as a victim or a witness, what they do those first few minutes, hours, days, can determine where the investigation goes," says Sgt. Jim Markey of the Phoenix Police Department.

But it's about more than just the crime scene. Allison Sedowski, a Forensic Scientist from the Phoenix Crime Lab taught the class about processing the DNA that's collected.

"If you get to a crime scene and there's DNA evidence, what should you be doing to collect it, to make sure that when it gets to the laboratory that we'll be able to get a DNA profile from it. What are the different techniques to collecting it, how do you package it and how do you submit it in," says Sedowski.

Lane Holmes is currently training with the Jonesboro Police Department. He says by taking this class, he'll better understand how to help the criminal investigation detectives at a crime scene.

"In terms of me being a patrolman, I get there first before any of the detectives do and it's really important to secure the evidence, know what you're looking at, and maybe try to get a sample before it deteriorates to the point where you can't get one," says Holmes.

But it's not just for the big cases, its knowledge he says he'll use on a daily basis.

"There's always something on, a burglary or a theft, or even sometimes a rape or homicide. If you're there on the scene and you're one of the first officers, evidence becomes big. You need to find the evidence so you can convict a suspect or even get a suspect if you don't know who committed the crime," says Holmes.

This DNA training class is available to any local law enforcement agency, no matter what size.

"It's something that everybody needs to understand and if everybody does and everybody utilizes this technology to the best of their ability, I think you're going to have safer communities," says Sgt. Jim Markey.

The 2 day DNA training class is free to all police agencies and is funded by the Law Enforcement Innovation Center and the Regional Community Policing Institute at the University of Tennessee.