Saturday, November 8, 2008

Learning From Some Really Impressive People

This week I gave a presentation in Bloomington, Minnesota at the Investigative Science and Law Enforcement Technology Initiative (ISLET) Criminal Justice Summit. ISLET, led by Principal Investigator Dr Carol Mathews from Century College, is a project funded by the National Science Foundation. Here’s some detail from the ISLET project website:

The ISLET Project has been initiated to equip peace officers with a better awareness and understanding of the scientific foundation underlying the various investigative sciences and technologies.

Through changes to the degree programs, the initiative provides today's law enforcement officer:
  • More focused investigative awareness
  • A mapping of learning objectives for investigation and chain of custody for evidence across the community
  • A comprehensive perspective of current law enforcement technological trends and expectations
  • Meeting the role/identity challenges as first line of defense, first responder, one who protects and serves the community.
Many of the attendees were practicing law enforcement people and many were wearing their badges and their guns. Lacking any criminal justice experience I did not know what to expect. Session topics included forensics, gang identification, terrorism, cyber-crime and homeland security. I was so impressed with what I heard and saw - the different ways IT and communications technologies are being used are extremely complex and technical. If you think law enforcement is a low tech field, you need to take a closer look.

I also had the opportunity to make some new friends and listen to some real “cop” stories. Thursday evening I spent a few hours with a number of law enforcement people including three sworn police officers – Rick, a police chief from a town in Minnesota; Lee, an officer from one of the larger cities in Minnesota; and Vanessa a community college criminal justice faculty member who recently came off duty as a patrol officer in a large Massachusetts city. Between the three of them I’m guessing there is between 60 and 70 years of combined duty. Listening to their stories and seeing their dedication, awareness and conviction to their work was something I won't forget. We also had more than a few laughs.

Some fascinating presentations, technology applications, stories and conversation with extremely dedicated and responsible people that put their lives on the line every day for all of us.

To learn more about the ISLET project:
  • Summary- an abstract of the project's purpose
  • Goals - the overall project goals
  • STEM Core - Science and Technology improvements are at the core of the initiative's purpose

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