Representatives with more than two dozen law enforcement agencies gathered at Grayson College Thursday for a day of training and discussions on forensics at the 15th Annual Law Enforcement Forensic Conference. The event, presented by Grayson College, Denison Independent School District and Texoma Regional Police Academy, offered the training courses free of charge.
Talks throughout the day covered topics including crime scene photography, preservation and mapping. The events included case studies and talks with officials in major, well-known cases including the murder of “American Sniper” Chris Kyle and the serial bombings in Austin last month.
“The reason we bring these in is to show law enforcement techniques that lead to an arrest,” Criminal Justice Professor Howard Day, who helped organize the event, said of the speakers.
Day said with the cases discussed, organizers wanted to showcase some cases that saw national coverage and were of a sensitive nature. With regard to the Austin bombings, Day said organizers wanted to highlight that due to its unique nature, freshness and relevance to Texas.
“We don’t see a lot of bombings,” Day said, adding that there has been an uptick in the reporting of suspicious packages locally following the Austin incidents.
The Austin serial bombings occurred throughout the month of March around Austin, with one explosion occurring near San Antonio. The series of bombings ended with the death of suspect Mark Anthony Conditt, who was killed when his vehicle exploded after it was pulled over by police outside the Austin area.
In total, two civilians were killed and five were injured in the five bombings. A sixth bomb was successfully deactivated at a FedEx location outside of Austin.
Day said the most important of the sessions Thursday was the first, which covered crime scene preservation and rules for evidence and case presentation given by Texas Ranger Brad Oliver and Kerye Ashmore with the Grayson County District Attorney’s Office.
“Law enforcement is a team sport,” Day said. “It takes the combined effort of law enforcement officers and prosecutors to prosecute a case. I think that that is the best message we could say from the start.”
Day said the event is important as it allowed departments to participate and receive expertise without any cost to the departments. In total, Day said there were 156 law enforcement officials registered for the event. In addition to these officials, Day said students with Sherman and Denison high schools, and Grayson College, were also in attendance.
Kyra Tucker, a senior with Denison High School, attended with a health science class and said she was uncertain whether a career in law enforcement was ahead of her, but some aspects did appeal to her.
“We are more here for the talks on autopsies and the human body,” she said.
Tucker said her favorite part of the event came early in the day, when experts discussed a murder and used information on the trajectory of the wounds to determine the murderer. These efforts included using a dummy with a rod to show a bullet arch, she said.