The Decatur Police Department now has its first civilian crime scene technician and the second nationally accredited crime scene investigator.
Trang Ozbun graduated June 14 from the National Forensic Academy in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, after a 10-week course.
“Forensic technology and the tactics we use to investigate a crime scene are crucial components of a successful investigation," Police Chief Nate Allen said in a statement. “By having a nationally certified CSI staff, we’re ensuring that our investigators and technicians are prepared for whatever may come their way and are ready to serve the city of Decatur.”
Police spokeswoman Emily Long said the first National Forensic Academy graduate in the department was Investigator Timothy Hutchings, who graduated in 2016.
Ozbun, 40, was previously a corrections officer with the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office. She has been employed with law enforcement for 10 years, with six of those in crime scene work, including several years as an evidence specialist with the Honolulu Police Department.
“I was in a similar position in a previous job, and I knew I wanted to come back” to the forensics field, she said.
“I like the lab work," Ozbun said. "I have a passion for that. It’s my way of helping.”
She said she’s now shadowing Hutchings and getting familiar with the department’s policies and procedures.
The National Forensic Academy is a 400-hour training program, with 170 hours of in-class work and 230 hours of field practicum. It’s funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance and designed to help meet the needs of law enforcement agencies in evidence identification, collection and preservation.
According to Long, 10 representatives from Alabama police departments — four of them from north Alabama — have graduated from the program.
Among the modules covered are crime scene management, courtroom testimony, DNA, firearms identification, forensic fire investigation, latent fingerprint processing, postmortem fingerprinting, serial number restoration, shooting incident reconstruction, death investigation and autopsy.
During the 10-week course, students take part in classroom instruction, lab activities and field practicums and are responsible for several educational objectives including tests, case files and research papers.
At the end of the course, students complete a written post-test and a comprehensive practical final.