Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Retrieval / Seizure of Electronic Evidence from Crime Scenes

Twelve years ago, a few multimedia analysts got together via emails and phone calls to create a training class around an emerging topic - what to do with the video contained within these black boxes that folks were encountering at crime scenes.

Several of us had "figured it out." We figured out what worked in our own contexts. What worked for me in Los Angeles was slightly different than what worked in New York, or Virginia, or Texas.

We hashed out a loose curriculum for what was eventually delivered at the 2007 NaTIA conference in Pittsburgh. In that course, we presented a hands-on overview of the technology, the legal aspects, and ideas for procedures that could easily be implemented by state / local agencies.

This experience lead to the creation of the red flip book, aka Best Practices for the Retrieval of Video Evidence from Digital CCTV Systems. I'm quite proud of what we all accomplished in the production of that handy guide, which is still available from the CCTSO.

From there, the group was brought together again to create the curriculum for what would become the RECVR class at FLETC.

From that point, several of us went on to create separate versions of the essential materials, delivering it across the county (and the world). I've had the privilege of presenting this topic across the US and Canada, as well as in Pretoria, South Africa to the South African Police Service.

Whilst most classes need to choose a platform from which to work, and you'll need tools to perform essential work in restoration, clarification, and analysis, my curriculum has always attempted to offer a "non-platform specific" option to learners. I've presented as many tools as possible, many of them free / open source. I've focussed on policy, procedure, and workflow. I've split the topics around retrieval from the topics around seizure. I think the curriculum is rather comprehensive, yet accessible to learners of all types (novices - advanced analysts).

During my years with Amped, there was a lot of internal tension around those classes that I had previously designed and presented being offered by an Amped employee. Thus, they weren't. There was also a bit of angst about the way in which I presented the training around the Amped tools. I don't like simply focusing on buttons and functions. I try to contextualize the tools, and thus present the training in a way that builds competency.

So, with Amped's retreat, I'm happy to say that my full slate of classes is back on offer. You can find them on all listed by clicking hereRetrieval / Seizure of Electronic Evidence from Crime Scenes is back and better than ever. It doesn't really compete directly with the other classes out there. On the contrary, it's entirely complimentary.

You see, every instructor and curriculum developer has their own point of view and experiences. Each brings all of that to their courses. I'm no different in that respect. I don't usually toot my own horn, but this is different. My story helps frame the creation of the classes. Here it is:

  • I'm a Certified Audio/Video Forensic Analyst (AVFA). The process of investigating the three bodies that offer certification, honestly apprising the costs/benefits of each, deciding on a path, and carrying it out to completion has been an over-a-decade journey.
  • I'm the author of the best-selling book Forensic Photoshop (available on Amazon.com). Getting a book published isn't as easy as it seems. Ten years ago, it was a daunting task. Putting yourself out there for others to critique is an amazingly stressful ordeal. I'm glad that I did it.
  • I'm a co-author of Best Practices for the Retrieval of Video Evidence from Digital CCTV Systems (red flip book). Collaborating with an amazing group of international all-stars in the field, listening to their diverse views, creating, compromising, standing firm, and finally seeing one's work in printed form was an awesome experience.
  • When I retired from the LAPD, I had spent a third of my life in police service. Based on an 8 hour work day, and the amount of actual hours I had worked, I had worked 33 years worth of 8 hour days during that time. During the last half of my career,  I hardly saw my family and friends, my health suffered, and I was heading towards burn-out. Given the amount of crime in LA, and the relatively small size of my old group, a lot of the way in which I work and structure my courses comes from the "factory of crime" and the need to work efficiently in the face of constant requests for service. Also, my focus on human factors, taking care of one's self, and doing one's best to eliminate bias comes from this experience.
  • I currently serve the community on the Organization of Scientific Area Committees on Forensic Science (OSAC), Video / Image Technology and Analysis (VITAL), as the Video Task Group Chair. Last year, we moved the DCCTV Guide to an ASTM standard. This year, we're about ready to move the many SWG docs around forensic video analysis to a common ASTM standard.
All of this finds its way into my classes. I'm not just a talking head. I'm not just reading a script. I'm giving my honest assessment of the topic, and a helpful set of instructions to get the learner to mastery.

If you're ready to move beyond "button pushing," head over to Apex Partners to check out what's on offer. Sign up for a class or two. I hope to see you soon.

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