Technology is transforming crime scene investigation, but rapidly evolving high-tech tools and techniques make it tough for local law enforcement to keep up. The National Center for Biomedical Research and Training (NCBRT) helps first responders get up to speed, typically at little cost to their agencies.

Kelly Barcus, an officer for the Roseville, Calif., Police Department, recently attended an NCBRT training program on collecting evidence in a major incident like biological warfare or other potentially hazardous crime scene. Barcus, who is part of Roseville’s Crime Scene Investigation team, said, “We go in and we know [hazardous materials] exist, but who is making them? How do we collect that evidence?”

The training gives local first responders the skills to deal with sophisticated and dangerous incidents. The NCBRT, located at Louisiana State University, says most training costs are covered through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Barcus learned about GPS devices for diagramming a crime scene that could be filled with volatile or hazardous materials. The tools help first responders determine if it’s safe to enter a potentially contaminated area. She said the NCBRT training preps local police to combat terrorism and other major threats.

“If it was a major incident like 9/11, we could assist now that we’ve had major training,” Barcus said.

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Sarah Rich, Staff Writer Sarah Rich  |  Staff Writer

In 2008, Sarah Rich graduated from California State University, Chico, where she majored in news-editorial journalism and minored in sociology. Since 2010, Sarah has written for Government Technology magazine and covers a spectrum of public-sector IT topics, including cloud computing, transparency, broadband, and other innovative projects and trends. She currently lives in Sacramento, Calif.