Training budgets are tight for police departments across the country, but the 23rd annual conference from the Law Enforcement and Emergency Services Video Association (LEVA) is proving to be a popular draw for forensic video instruction. The 2012 LEVA Annual Training Conference, which runs Oct. 22-26 at the Bahia Resort Hotel in San Diego, will feature a full schedule of hands-on workshops and interactive educational sessions, plus an exhibit hall and networking opportunities.
Officer Roy Dunkelbarger of the Mesa Police Department Video Services Unit in Mesa, Ariz., has completed more than 200 hours of training toward being a Certified Forensic Video Analyst (CFVA), and will meet his eligibility requirements at the LEVA conference. On the job, he has seen a steady increase in cases that are dependent on video evidence.
"Without training in video evidence, most of our investigators either do not know how to properly handle the video evidence or do not use it to its fullest potential," he explained. "Because of this, it has been a goal for our department to obtain a certification in forensic video analysis, so we will have someone with the knowledge to not only handle video evidence correctly but also be able to testify in court about it."
While many law enforcement conferences center on vendor demonstrations and networking, Dunkelbarger said the LEVA conference is different. "It is centered on in-depth digital media and legal training courses, many of which are mandatory for obtaining a forensic video analyst certification," he added. "LEVA does also offer a vendor expo and networking opportunities, but the reason our department uses valuable training dollars for this conference is to provide the required training for our personnel to not only achieve a certification as a forensic video analyst, but also to be able to function as one."
Det. Juan J. Ruano, Homeland Security Bureau, Technical Operation, Forensic Video Unit, Miami-Dade Police Department, said he is encouraged by the department to stay current with training, because it bolsters skills and credibility in court as well as other legal/judicial procedures. He has already included the "Digital Media Workflow: Acquisition, Processing, Analysis, and Presentation Workshop" and "Reverse Projection Workshop" in his conference plans. "The workflow class will help with the day-to-day processing and working of digital video evidence," he explained. "The reverse projection workshop is rarely available and much sought after."
Tom Ciula, forensic video specialist, Cleveland Division of Police, is also looking forward to the Reverse Projection Workshop. "A comprehensive workshop like this adds serious skills to my kit, which pays dividends for both myself and the Cleveland Police Department," he noted.
"There's certified in-depth training in the most current forensic video and audio techniques, a floor full of vendors with the latest vetted technology, and colleagues from every imaginable agency to share insights, methodologies, and even a few 'war stories,'" Ciula added. "The bad investment for my agency would be in me not going."
This year's five-day conference will focus on digital multimedia evidence (DME) and include a Digital Asset Management Expo, co-located with LEVA's exhibit hall on Oct. 23, as well as number of sessions focusing on DME laboratory best practices, DME recovery for first responders, and more. Daily room costs will be at U.S. federal lodging rates for LEVA attendees. For travel information, as well as the conference schedule and pricing options, visit leva.org.