HPD investigations get leg up with new training
by Cris Ritchie Editor
HAZARD The Hazard Police Departments capability to handle investigations completely in-house increased greatly, officials say, as last week Det. Paul Campbell graduated from the highly exclusive Kentucky Criminalistics Academy in Richmond.
Campbell, who began working for HPD in 2007, was one of only 12 people to attend the annual academy, which teaches advanced investigative techniques in subjects ranging from blood spatter recognition to bomb reconstruction.
Campbell spent 10 weeks at the academy, and said the training he received should pay dividends for the Hazard Police Departments capability to investigate crimes locally.
When I first found about [the program], its basically any officers dream to get the best training possible, and thats what this program offered, Campbell said. It covered various skills of investigation, in-depth crime scene forensics, so I knew that was right up my alley.
Captain Minor Allen, who along with Campbell and Det. David Wiseman make up the Hazard Police Departments investigative branch, said Campbells training allows the department not only an increased ability to reconstruct and investigate crimes, but also training in the courtroom as well.
Any kind of case that, whether it be burglary, theft, murder anything like that hes got a base now that he can fall back on, and is considered in some of those areas as an expert, Allen explained. He can testify as an expert and be recognized that way.
Campbells training encompassed 11 total weeks, including one full week spent in Knoxville, Tn. where investigators received lectures from Dr. Bill Bass, who Campbell described as a world-renowned anthropologist. While in Tennessee, Campbell and his fellow investigators learned techniques such as forensic anthropology, and more specifically grave recovery. They gained skills to locate remains from a grave site and determine the sites origin. Campbell described that portion of the training as very hands-on.
Allen described Campbells training as the best money can buy, but noted that his attendance at the academy didnt cost the City of Hazard anything, minus the weeks Campbell was away from the department, which in itself is a large investment for a smaller department. But that hardly meant his acceptance into the program was a given, as it remains a highly competitive selection process. Campbell was the first eastern Kentuckian accepted into the program, and noted that this years academy was the first to have three from the region as well.
This is the first class to have anyone from eastern Kentucky, he said, noting that an investigator from Harlan and a Kentucky State Police detective from the Pikeville post also attended the academy.
The Hazard Police Department became an accredited law enforcement agency in 2008, which gave the public an idea of what kind of police department the residents of Hazard can expect, said Deputy Chief Joe Engle, but Campbells new training actually takes the department another step forward in that regard.
Accreditation gives you a good foundation, but this is moving beyond that, said Engle. Its really for the people. The people of Hazard need a police department that doesnt rely on somebody else to have to come in and do this.
Campbell also described the academy in terms of exclusivity. Campbells graduating class made only the fourth of its kind since the academy was formed, and only two other academies nationwide offer similar training the National Forensics Academy and the FBI academy.
But in terms of importance to the Hazard Police Department, Engle noted that Campbells newfound knowledge raises the bar for a smaller department like HPD.
This makes the Hazard Police Department ready and capable of investigating any kind of crime thats possible, Engle said. For a small agency like us thats unheard of. Theres just a handful of people in the state that has this training.
I feel very fortunate to be given this opportunity, and I thank my supervisor, my deputy chief and my chief for sending me to this, Campbell said. If it wasnt for their support, I wouldnt have got to do this in the first place.
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