2017 ICSIA CSI Conference
Written by Dan Desjardins   

Recently about 70 people representing over 30 law enforcement agencies and forensic providers from throughout the United States, Jamaica, and Belize convened in Chandler, Arizona to attend the International Crime Scene Investigators Association’s 4th CSI Conference. This year’s conference was held June 6-8 and focused on training, education, and technology for crime scene investigators working out in the field.

Vincent Ray of SRN, Inc. demonstrates a forensic flashlight in the Conference Vendor Room.Vincent Ray of SRN, Inc. demonstrates a forensic flashlight in the Conference Vendor Room. about Jodi Arias during Heather Conner’s presentatione about Jodi Arias during Heather Conner’s presentation.Attendees learn a little about Jodi Arias during Heather Conner’s presentation.ddress by Chief Sean Duggan from the Chandler (Arizona) Police Department, the conference planners wasted no time in getting down to business. The conference opened with a presentation by Susan Simons from Under the Shield Foundation, Inc. Susan focused her presentation on stress management and how it relates to your work on critical incidents. Susan also provided information on maintaining a healthy lifestyle though nutrition and exercise in order to help reduce the effects of stress in your life.

The highlight of the first day for many was a presentation on the Travis Alexander/Jodi Arias Homicide case by Heather Conner of the Mesa Arizona Police Department. Many may remember this case from the national and international attention it received in the media. Heather’s in-depth presentation focused on the difficulties of this complex scene and the challenges related to processing it forensically.

Attendees learn a little about Jodi Arias during Heather Conner’s presentation.

The conference continued with a presentation by Chris Perez of the Chandler Police Department. This case involved a female sexual predator who spent years grooming her victim and manipulating those around her, in order to accomplish her goals. This case was further complicated by the suspect being the spouse of a prominent local politician. The case included an attempt at evidence tampering by a friend of the suspect. Chris detailed the case from the initial conversations with the victim through prosecution. This case relied on forensic evidence to prove the history of sexual offenses spanning years.

The day finished off with a presentation by Jason Zimmerman from the Glendale (Arizona) Police Department. Jason’s presentation was tied to another case that spent many days in the national spotlight, the Jhessye Schockley murder investigation. Jason focused his presentation on an aspect of this case that many crime scene investigators have not had to deal with, the searching of a landfill for the victim’s body. Jason covered some of the unique safety concerns and training necessary to begin processing a landfill scene. The complexity of the process can be daunting; by exposing CSIs to this information, ICSIA hopes to provide attendees a better understanding of the first steps they should take if they find themselves in a similar situation.

Vincent Ray of SRN, Inc. demonstrates a forensic flashlight in the Conference Vendor Room.

Day two was devoted to arson scene investigations and was presented by Det. Ed Nordskog of the Los Angeles County (California) Sheriff’s Department. Nordskog is a former U.S. Marine trained in Field Artillery and Terrorist Counter Action and has been a full time arson/bomb investigator since 1997, and has investigated 2,000 arson cases, conducted over 540 “render safe” operations on hazardous devices (bombs), and testified in over 85 fire/arson cases. Nordskog is an advanced certified fire investigator through the California State Fire Marshal and a certified bomb technician/explosion investigator through the FBI. He has received numerous awards and citations for his work in arson, bomb, and criminal investigations.

Nordskog tailored his presentations to focus on the needs of the crime scene investigator and how they can help the arson investigator. Topics covered included: Processing and documenting fire death scenes; Incendiary devices; and body dumps and murder/suicides by fire. Nordskog also presented case studies on a major church arson as well as on SWAT and police shooting related fire scenes.

Feedback from the first two days was extremely positive and the final day of the conference did not disappoint either. The day started out with another complex homicide case study. Erika DiPalma and Yvette Gonzalez from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department presented “Love & Jealousy in West Hollywood: The Kurtland Ma Case”. This was another homicide case that contained many unusual twists and turns. Erika and Yvette focused on some of the more unusual aspects of this case and how they processed this scene.

Maintaining forensic skills, especially those that are not used on a daily basis, can be difficult for crime scene investigators. The conference included presentations on two useful skills. Art Borchers of Larsen Forensics & Associates, Inc. presented on photogrammetry. Photogrammetry is the science of making measurements from photographs. Art covered some of the basic concepts and provided useful resources for those needing to sharpen their skills. Ken Pomeranz of the Phoenix (Arizona) Police Department covered infrared photography. Infrared photography uses light from outside the visible spectrum to allow the crime scene investigator to capture detail that is not normally visible through the naked eye.

Vehicular Crime Investigations was another topic covered at this year’s conference. William Johnson of the Chandler Police Department focused his presentation on how the images captured by the CSI are used in the accident reconstruction process. Attendees were not only given information on what kind of images should be taken, but shown how their work helps in prosecuting vehicular crimes cases.

For three days, ICSIA packed as much information as possible into their conference. ICSIA was created to assist law enforcement personnel who are involved in the processing of crime scenes. ICSIA believes that the discipline of crime scene processing is a unique field in forensic science because a CSI must have a working knowledge of all the disciplines in forensic science and apply that knowledge to the documentation and processing of the crime scenes. By putting on quality educational conferences, ICSIA strives to provide not only information, but an opportunity to network with fellow crime scene investigators from around the country and the world. I encourage those working in the field processing crime scene to attend next year’s conference and improve yourself in a setting focused on you the CSI.

About the Author

This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it is a member of ICSIA’s Board of Directors and has been involved in law enforcement for over 33 years. Dan has been active in forensics since 1995 currently works for a municipal police department as a crime scene supervisor and helps to run his agencies Crime Scene Unit.

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