HAZARD — A second Hazard Police Officer is now certified in crime scene investigations.
Detective Adam Baker is one of only 48 police officers across the state who had the opportunity to complete an intensive five-week program on crime scene investigations. He is now the second certified in this skill at the Hazard Police Department, which is a rarity for many local agencies. About a year ago, Detective Paul Campbell completed the same training.
According to Baker, the five weeks were busy learning many different skills such as photography, evidence collection and fingerprint collection. Since graduating on May 25, Baker said he hasn’t yet used many of his new skills, but has used the photography for evidence.
In the past, the Kentucky Criminalistics Academy (KCA) has been 10 consecutive weeks of training. The first five weeks were focused on crime scene investigations and the second on forensics and analysis. They have recently changed this since many agencies only needed one of the sections.
During this five weeks, officers spent each week on different skills.
“You have a whole week of nothing but fingerprints,” said Baker. “There are I don’t know how many different ways to collect finger prints, thousands.”
Baker also learned how to collect trace evidence, including hair and fiber samples.
Chief Minor Allen has said in several interviews with the Herald that he is hoping to get as many of his officers trained in different skills as possible. He believes that continued education can only serve to help the department and the community.
Baker said that he agrees, and he is hoping to complete the second five weeks, though it is a difficult class to get in to.
“I want to do both of them, but they only select from all of their applicants only 12 for the second five weeks,” said Baker.
The academy hosts the five-week crime scene course several times a year, and anyone who has completed to this course is eligible for the second five weeks. However, this does mean that 48 officers from across the state are vying for only 12 spots. The second course is only offered once every two years.
This small applicant pool means that Hazard is currently one of the only agencies in the area to have anyone to complete either training, and now they have two.
“There is not many really in Eastern Kentucky that have been through the KCA,” said Baker.
Baker added that while it is rare to have two officers in one department with these skills, officials with KCA have already asked if and when Hazard will be sending a third.
While it is not every day that the police department uses these skills, they can be invaluable in getting a conviction in a large case. If evidence is not collected properly it can be thrown out and not used in a court of law. Baker said that he believes that this is an important reason to receive this training and to continue training in many different skills to work towards convicting criminals.