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Cynthia Pina celebrated her 30th anniversary with the Chandler Police Department. The Police Department has benefited from Cindy’s abilities in a number of ways. She has had a variety of assignments including Records, Field Operations, Property and Evidence, Detectives, Crime Prevention and currently Forensic Services. As a member of the Forensic Services Section (FSS) Cindy expanded her knowledge to include fingerprints and has become a ten print examiner. This skillset has allowed her to take a key role for the department with the Arizona Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS).
The forensic laboratory successfully completed its surveillance assessment, allowing FSS to maintain accreditation status into 2019. There are over 400 standards that the lab must comply with to continue accreditation status. Accreditation is a continual process that requires a commitment to quality and constant effort to achieve.
Nine of the twenty FSS employees with expertise in forensic disciplines have become technical assessors for ANAB. As a result, these employees are invited to other forensic laboratories to be a part of assessment teams. Assessment entail audit of laboratories for compliance to current accreditation standards. Not only does this increase their understanding and knowledge of accreditation, but their work also helps to strengthen the quality of the forensic science field.
The FSS Crime Scene Unit of thirteen employees currently has eleven crime scene technicians (CST) that are certified through the International Association for Identification (IAI). The IAI is recognized worldwide for their certification program. The minimum requirement for certification is one year of crime scene related activities and 48 hours of crime scene approved classes. The Department’s certified CSTs met or exceeded these requirements and then passed a comprehensive exam that covers a wide range of crime scene processing topics.
In order to maintain certification, they must earn continuing education credits and pass an exam every five years. The Unit’s goal is to have all of the CSTs IAI certified. Two recently hired CSTs have already begun earning the required educational credits with the goal of completing their certification within two years.
Much like the IAI crime scene certification, the IAI offers a certification for Latent Print Examiners. Currently, FSS has one certified latent print examiner, a second that has applied for the certification and is expected to take the exam in early 2019, and the laboratory’s third Forensic Scientist who performs latent print analysis has begun earning the required educational credits with the goal of completing her certification when she meets the work experience requirement.
The Forensic Services Section staff has continued to work hard. In-house forensic scientists processed 849 blood-alcohol cases, 1,015 drug cases and 1,181 latent print analyses which include 267 comparisons generated by AFIS hits that may identify investigative leads in criminal cases. The Crime Scene Unit responded to 4,124 crime scenes ranging from vehicle burglaries to major crimes such as homicide and sex assault.
In 2017, there was a 40% increase in drug case submission. This trend has continued with another 10% increase in the drug case submissions in 2018. This same trend is mirrored in blood alcohol case submissions. In 2017, the blood alcohol cases submitted to the lab for analysis increased by 20%. In 2018, the blood alcohol casework has again increased by 12%. The Forensic Scientists have worked diligently to keep a backlog of cases from developing and turnaround times from rising.
FSS again threw out all the stops to teach Science Spectacular attendees about forensic science. Almost the entire FSS staff worked for the better part of a year to develop creative activities that demonstrated the science used daily in the lab. Children and adults rotated through 30 feet of hands on forensic science activities. This year’s display started with an opportunity for participants to roll their own finger print and determine what pattern type they had. After learning about their own prints, it was time to put them to work solving crimes. Participants were provided an unknown fingerprint, collected from a mock crime scene. They then had to compare this print to those of known subjects and correctly identify the suspect. At the next station, they were asked to identify which suspect left his shoe prints at a crime scene. Using a similar comparative method as they had with the fingerprints, the participants were asked to compare shoe prints to find the guilty party. Their final challenge was to learn about ballistic trajectories.
With additional savings, a number of other modifications were made to the vehicles. These included:
To highlight these changes, a training video was made to educate the Department’s Patrol employees. This video was shared with two of the up-fitting product vendors. One, in turn, posted the video on their social media site, garnering over fifty-thousand views and many inquiries. Some agencies have reached out directly to the Chandler Police Department about this unique set up design. In appreciation for the amount of attention they received, one of the vendors donated two complete set ups to the Department for 2018 builds.
Leveraging technology for improved fleet management, the team worked with the Police Technology Section to create a paperless vehicle service ticket and damage log. This new system tracks all work requests and logs turn-around time for each request, while maintaining work history and mileage information for each vehicle. This eliminates the need for a paper log for when a vehicle sustains minor damage. A future project is to convert the vehicle inspection sheet to electronic format as well.
Other accomplishments this year include the following: