NORTHAMPTON – As a 29-year veteran of the Northampton Police Department, Officer Michael Allard knows a thing or two about crime scenes.
Allard spent last week imparting some of that knowledge to others at the International Association for Identification (IAI) educational conference in Atlanta, Georgia, the largest forensics and crime scene professionals conference in the world.
The IAI, which has been a law enforcement resource since its inception in 1915, is a global organization, with over 6,500 members from 77 countries, according to its mission statement. The organization’s annual conference brings forensic professionals together for a week to learn and network.
Allard spent the week teaching workshops covering a number of topics, including using forensics and other technology to map crime scenes, according to a statement from the Northampton Police Department.
Capt. John Cartledge said Allard is one of the most trained and well-rounded officers when it comes to crime scene investigations, and that the conference is a good opportunity to share some of that with the wider law enforcement community.
“He’s one of our crime scene technicians, he’s also one of our accident reconstruction people, as well as part of our drone unit,” said Cartledge. “He’s really one of our most well trained officers in those areas.”
The IAI, which originally began at the turn of the 20th century as a small cadre of like-minded criminal investigators in Oakland, California , has grown into the world’s largest conference dedicated to exploring new crime scene investigation techniques and practices.
Bill Schade, a spokesman for the conference, said that the IAI is a means by which crime scene investigators can keep ahead of the curve and consistently improve how they assist law enforcement officials. “It’s a constant evolution,” Schade said. “Science is always evolving and we need to keep up with it.”
One of the newest technologies being used by police — and one that Allard taught workshops on at IAI this week — is unmanned aircraft systems, otherwise known as drones.
Cartledge said Allard helped to “spearhead” the Northampton Police Department’s new drone unit, which is a fairly unique entity locally.
“We’re one of the few, if only, agencies in the area that has such a unit,” Cartledge said, adding that a lot of other local agencies have been using the Northampton police’s unit as a model for their own.
Cartledge and Allard are both part of the small, four-person unit , and are two of a handful of local police officials licensed to fly drones, which Cartledge said are used for a variety of situations.
“We primarily have used it at fire scenes to help the Fire Department get aerial scenes of what they’re doing to help them fight fires better,” Cartledge said, noting that the technology has also been useful in missing person or search and rescue investigations as well as in assisting the Department of Public Works in mapping various geographic locations.
When it comes to integrating new technologies into law enforcement practices Cartledge said there is a well-researched process that goes into determining whether it will provide better service to the public.
“It’s a matter of our Department and certainly individual officers and supervisors looking into things that might benefit our department and the community,” Cartledge said. [Click for More]