HGTC to christen crime laboratories

In the hit TV drama "CSI," a team of forensic investigators examines evidence and solves crimes, all within a one-hour show.In reality, the work involves more detail and is more time-consuming than TV portrays, which some Horry-Georgetown Technical College students are learning in new teaching classrooms and laboratories for crime scene investigation. The college will dedicate the new labs today.Enrollment for the CSI training is at 100 students, according to HGTC officials."The college has had a long-standing, successful criminal justice program for at least two decades," said Dr. Marilyn Fore, HGTC's senior vice president for academic affairs. "With the increase in crime scenes and the need to train officers in the proper procedures in investigative work, the college determined that we needed to add an emphasis within our current CRJ program." Fore said the expansion is needed to meet the training needs for crime scene investigation, strengthen the skills of students who will enter the law enforcement work force and train those already employed."The benefit to the students will be immeasurable," Horry County Sheriff Phillip Thompson said. "Under strict and professional supervision, they will be exposed to many current and futuristic investigative techniques."Local law enforcement officials say the labs also are a benefit financially and to help them get faster and consistent results."We have more and more DNA cases that are required to be sent off" to the State Law Enforcement Division, said 15th Judicial Circuit Solicitor Greg Hembree. "The resources are dwindling there, so we were going to look at a regional lab anyway. With as many law enforcement agencies, they can't afford to have their own labs. This consolidates laboratory services where we can get results faster. We hate to have someone sit in jail for three or four months waiting on DNA results."The CSI lab - which was envisioned more than two years ago - also eliminates the need for students and local law enforcement officers to travel for training, HGTC officials said.The labs are "fully equipped and ready to integrate their applications," Fore said. "If there is a crime scene in Loris, we want law enforcement agencies to use the lab to look at evidence and have students to interact with them to see what they do."Fore said officers will be able to enroll in the spring for credit courses or short-term, noncredit training courses.In the short-term courses, currently employed officers would receive training in criminal scene analysis techniques such as fingerprint science, forensic photography, bloodstain pattern analysis and practical crime scene investigation. Future plans include partnering with local and state law enforcement agencies to make the CSI labs regional labs. "A regional crime lab on our local campus will surely allow quicker and more convenient access to evidence interpretation," Thompson said.Contact JANELLE FROST at 443-2404.