The Texas Forensic Science Academy (TFSA) at TEEX has received a $425,000 training grant from the Governor’s Office, Texas Criminal Justice Division. The grant will allow TFSA to deliver 27 tuition-free courses to over 540 crime scene investigators across the State of Texas. The grant also provides funding to convert its entry-level Basic Criminal Investigation course to an on-line course for easier access statewide.
The TFSA is administered by the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX), a member of The Texas A&M University System. The primary mission of the TFSA is to train law enforcement officers responsible for crime scene investigation to utilize best practices when collecting evidence. Some of the essential skills taught in TFSA courses include: latent fingerprint processing, death investigation, forensic photography, bloodstain pattern analysis and courtroom testimony. The experiential learning methodology used during each training delivery helps to increase crime scene officer competence. Properly trained crime scene investigators lead to greater accuracy and reduced pressure on backlogged forensic labs; both results may provide increased reliability of physical evidence used at trial in criminal cases.
According to TEEX Law Enforcement Training Director Cullen Grissom, “The goal of the grant-funded training is to increase the effectiveness of crime scene investigations in Texas by providing up-to-date technology and hands-on field exercises to include the proper collection, packaging, storage and analysis of physical evidence by law enforcement personnel. State grant funding will allow training to be delivered to both small as well as mid-sized and rural Texas law enforcement agencies.”
Texas is served by approximately 100,000 licensed peace officers and crime scene investigators from 2,650 law enforcement agencies. Many of these agencies are small, rural municipalities and sheriff’s departments with minimal capacity or local resources to meet their training needs. With local budgets strained by the current economy, these agencies are unable to access the training needed to support essential crime scene investigative practices. According to the Police Executive Research Forum, 54% of law enforcement agencies have reportedly reduced or discontinued training programs due to local budget cuts and increased training costs. Rural Texas agencies, especially along the border, face ever increasing pressure from border-related, trans-national violent crime including narcotics smuggling and human trafficking.
All TFSA courses receive continuing education credit through the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education (TCLEOSE). Many of the courses taught through the TFSA are also accredited through the International Association for Identification. Through an innovative program between TEEX and Tarleton State University, a fellow member of The Texas A&M University System, participants can receive college credit toward completion of a B.A.A.S Degree in Criminal Justice.