Have you ever watched TV shows like CSI Miami and thought that you could have solved the crime faster than they did? Now you have the opportunity to learn how to become a Crime Scene Investigator. If you are thinking of changing your career or just want to learn more about forensic science you will have the opportunity to learn from the best.
The CSI Academy of Florida is a professional education and training facility for crime scene investigators opening this May 2012, located in a 28,000 square foot building on Hwy. 441 in Alachua Florida. The campus includes seven acres for training exercises. Students will learn how to recognize, collect and preserve evidence from numerous real-life crime scene re-enactments.
“The crime scenes that the students will be analyzing are set up just like real-life cases that I and the other instructors have dealt with over many years,” said Mike Thompson, the director of the academy.
Thompson is joined with a faculty that collectively has over 300 years of real-life experience working as crime scene investigators. Thompson, who retired as a Lieutenant after 28 years with the Sheriffs Department, including being in charge of Special Operations, is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy and specialized training from the U.S. State Department, including severalinternational missions.
Dan Gerard is a Senior Crime Scene Analyst with more than 30 years experience, starting as a military police investigator.
Danny Pascucci has over 40 years experience. He is a retired combat veteran from the Marines, has served the Department of Justice and the Department of Defense teaching crime scene investigation around the world, including Iraq, Kosovo and Africa.
“We have some of the best crime scene investigators and instructors from around the country,” states Thompson. The instructors will include people with expertise in forensic examination of blood, forensic entomology, ballistics and wound analysis, fingerprint detection, blood pattern analysis, alternative light source training and how to present evidence in court.
A 40 hour one week course in basic crime scene investigation and a six week, 300 hour course designed for people who are ready to start a new career in CSI will be offered.
“Students who complete these courses will have learned and can demonstrate their competence in the proper recognition, collection and preservation of evidence,” said Mike Thompson. “You will have the fingerprints on the fingerprint cards that you have lifted from various objects, from doorknobs to beer bottles; you will have the castings of the footprint impressions that you made in plaster; you will have copies of the crime scene drawings as you were taught to prepare them with documentation of the evidence in the room; and you will have a portfolio of your crime scene photography, properly documenting the evidence at the crime scene. You will learn how that information from the forensic evidence can be used by the detectives in the questioning of suspects, and you will have a degree of personal confidence in the presentation of the forensic evidence you have collected.”
“The basic 40 hour course is designed for people who want to learn an overview of the techniques of forensic investigation because they are interested in possibly pursuing a career, or they love CSI and want to do this for their own fun and personal knowledge, or people who want to master these skills so they can assist them in getting a job, or even working part-time or volunteering with your local police department in assisting in collecting evidence from crime scenes,” said Thompson. “This one week course is fast paced and a lot of fun. The students will have three practice crime scenes to gather evidence before they go into a fairly sophisticated crime scene. Their goal is to collect the forensic evidence, and from that evidence, correctly identify the person who committed the crime.” A trial run of the class generated enthusiastic students. The class is limited to 10 to 12 people per session, so each student gets individual hands-on experience and almost a five to one student/teacher ratio.
“I have been practicing criminal law for almost 17 years, and I found this course to be enlightening as to so many aspects of crime scene investigation, particularly how careful and thorough an investigator needs to be,” stated Stacy Scott, the Public Defender for the Eighth Judicial Circuit. “Not only that, it was absolutely a fun week!”
Students in the first practice run through ranged in age from a 25 year old graduate student to a 71 year old retired IBM executive. The class also included a retired attorney, retired engineer, housewife, a college professor, a property manager and a real estate agent.
“Using that feather duster and making that first print appear before my eyes was thrilling,” stated retired engineer Richard Vories. “It took me a few tries, but I was able to lift the print, even from a curved object, and place it clearly on the fingerprint card without smudging the evidence.”
The students spent most of the fourth day in the final crime scene, which as the pictures show, was a bloody murder scene. After a day of evidence collecting, which included gathering numerous fingerprints from different objects, foot impressions, following a trail of blood, fingerprints on the outside of windows, a discarded Solo cup, and on a pool cue, and after talking with some potential suspects, the group was able to present a set of facts that created probable cause which allowed for the arrest of the suspect.
The professional 300 hour course to be run over six weeks is scheduled to begin in October of 2012. That course is set up similar to the 40 hour class, but has much more extensive discussion in each area, and includes some areas not touched on in the initial course.
You will learn the proper method for approaching the crime scene, documenting it with measuring devices and numerical evidence markers, taking the crime scene photography, locating latent fingerprints, dusting them, collecting them, preserving them, using alternate light sources to find biological materials, fingerprints, learning to analyze blood pattern evidence, recognizing different ballistics, including trajectories and calibers of bullets, and specific techniques used in death investigations. The format is set up with lectures, practical exercises and labs in those areas of lectures. Then the
Students are sent to six real-life crime scenes to demonstrate their mastery of the skills. The crime scenes include burglaries in different settings, sex crimes, stabbings, shootings, and will involve both indoor and outdoor crime scenes, as well as analysis in the day and night.
The skills learned by each student will prepare them for a career in CSI and should put them ahead of other applicants trying to get a CSI job.
The school is the brain child of attorney Robert A. Rush. “Over the years I have had to analyze many physical scenes in cases, both criminal and civil, whether it is a traffic accident causing a wrongful death, or a homicide where my client has been accused of murder, and the evidence is critically important in finding the truth about what really happened. I’ve been very fortunate over the past 15 years to work with one of the world’s best forensic investigators, Danny Pascucci. Danny and I have walked into many a crime scene over the years, and our documentation and analysis was able to establish certain facts that exonerated people accused of murder. Forensic evidence is probably the most important evidence that can be preserved and presented because this evidence can tell you something meaningful and important, it has no bias, it doesn’t have a memory that fades, it doesn’t care which side wins or is right. It is factual evidence that can only fail if there is a failure to collect it, preserve it, and properly analyze it. That is why there’s such a great need for competently trained crime scene investigators.”
Currently the majority of crime scene investigators receive on-the-job training from their superiors. “It’s usually knowledge passed down from one investigator to another; that’s how I’ve learned so much of what I know,” said Dan Gerard.
While there are some courses taught around the country, and on-line courses, what distinguishes the CSI Academy of Florida is the hands-on experience in numerous real-world crime scenes so that the students will have a high degree of confidence and a demonstrative level of competence in the necessary skills to be a crime scene investigator.
The importance of the crime scene investigator can be summed up in this: if the evidence is not collected, preserved and analyzed correctly, you’ll have either guilty people going free, or an innocent person going to prison. Finding the forensic evidence is the best measure to ensure that you’re finding the truth. At CSI Academy of Florida, they are dedicated to finding the truth. This is their mission; that is their purpose. And that is why they intend to educate as many people in this field as possible.
If you’re looking for an exciting new career, want to improve law enforcement skills you already have, or take a one week vacation where you’ll learn the basic skills of a crime scene investigator, then the CSI Academy of Florida is for you. Perhaps you could work or volunteer at your local police department or process your child’s tooth brush to prove they did not brush their teeth!
The opportunities are happening right down the street in Alachua, Florida.
386 518 6300 • www.CSIAcademyofFlorida.com
The raised garden beds, also called garden boxes, that Visionary Gardens produce are all hand made with high quality natural products.
by Ruth Ward
Steven Thames had a vision; it was to give the gift of gardening to everyone. Thames’ passion for the outdoors and gardening came from his fond memories of being on the family farm with his grandmother.His grandmother had a 700 acre farm in Crescent City and grew vegetables for their neighbors. The garden boxes that Visionary Gardens produce bring families together the old fashioned way. “I really enjoyed farming with my grandmother and learned how gardening could bring families and communities together. It gives people organic food, flowers and precious memories that will last a lifetime, just like my grandmother did.”
Thames’ company, Visionary Gardens, has over 30 years of gardening experience. Steven Thames is also a talented carpenter.The raised garden beds, also called garden boxes, that Visionary Gardens produce are all hand made with high quality natural products. Beds are stained and finished to go with any design of the client’s home. The raised beds can also fit into small spaces, on a flat roof, balcony, in a cement yard— anywhere and any size. Once a design has been drawn up Thames starts custom building the unit and within two weeks the garden box is installed.
The gardening beds are built with a big lip that is designed for gardeners to sit on.This design cuts out all the back-breaking bending of gardening and makes it far more pleasurable. In one square foot you can plant almost three times what you can grow in a traditional garden.
Most yards do not have the rich soil that is needed for producing good vegetables or flowers. The benefit of having a raised bed means that each bed is filled with local, organic soil guaranteeing your plants get off to a good start. Visionary Gardens can fill it with plants of your choice, like vegetables, herbs, shrubs and flowers. Raised beds have better drain- and require less maintenance than a conventional garden. Irrigation and flood lighting can be added for low maintenance and a beautiful center piece of any yard.
“The raised beds are completely designed with what the customer wants. If you want a small box or many large boxes we will take care in designing what will work for You. In the construction I dig down at least two inches and completely level the ground and then back fill around it with four to six inches of rocks or mulch so that weeds don’t grow around it. I like to keep things in flow with what is going on in the client’s space.” Thames leaves no detail untouched.
Visionary Gardens does projects that include ponds, compost bins, chicken coops, gardening stations and more. If you dream it, they can build it.
Steven Thames really does know what he is talking about when it comes to gardening as he is a Master Gardener, a prestigious designation that he received from the Extension Office. Thames is able to determine what is needed in your soil or how to organically help your plants flourish.
Give your family a great gift of years of gardening memories, fresh organic vegetables and cut flowers.This is surprisingly affordable and something that will keep giving back year after year.
352-222-6164 • www.Visionary-Gardens.com
More and more people are demanding home grown produce and Hitchcock’s is proud to offer this.
by Ruth Ward
Fresh from the farm is a hot topic, and Hitchcock’s is focused on providing customers with the freshest local products available. When you look at the deli case you see beautiful displays of Homemade Potato Salad, Baked Beans, Chicken Salad, Waldorf Salad, Summer Salad and other delicious items. Margaret the stores Bakery/Deli manager comes in early every day to make these dishes from scratch with fresh ingredients. Her face just lights up with joy when she starts talking about her specialty items.
Derek Christian, Director of Produce Operations is excited about Hitchcock’s buying local. “More and more people are demanding home grown produce and Hitchcock’s is proud to off er this. We take pride in our produce being fresh and we like the idea of buying local. Th ere are some things that the local community loves like Collard Greens, Mustard Greens and Turnip Greens and when they are in season we are able to off er them. Green Peanuts are another specialty item which are a southern delicacy and hard to find but we man- to please our customers by stocking them when we can. If there is something you want we will go the extra mile to find it.”
One of the many Florida farms that Hitchcock’s buys from is Quality First Produce that is located in Homestead Florida. They supply the store with fresh eggplant, beans, squash, peppers and zucchinis. Another farm Farm-Wey Produce is located in Lakeland Florida and supplies the Hitchcock’s with cantaloupes, strawberries and melons.
The meat department has their specialties such as Hitchcock’s Premium Angus Beef, Market fresh Poultry purchased from the largest suppliers in the South East and Hitchcock’s Premium Pork made from light hogs.
Hitchcock’s takes pride in the fact that they only deal with the most reputable meat suppliers and demand the highest of standards in all perishables. Get your grill fired up and put one of Hitchcock’s mouth watering Premium Angus Beef stakes on the grill with a bowl of their famous baked beans and a summer salad. Sit back and enjoy…the Good Life!
386-462-1314 • www.MyHitchcocks.com
“No matter how the markets change, clients’ goals and dreams don’t go away. I enjoy listening to clients, understanding their feelings, needs, dreams and concerns, and helping them plan for their goals.”
by Ruth Ward
When you walk into Amanda Payne’s Ameriprise office you feel at ease. She is someone you can sit and talk with and not feel pressured or confused. Her family has been in business in High Springs and Alachua since 1979. Amanda’s parents Wayne and Diana Snelgrove, E.A. owns H&R Block and Amanda’s husband Eric Payne manages the family’s local Radio Shack franchise. After owning Alpha Mortgage, working in an H&R Block office for over 18 years and being a financial advisor since 2001, Amanda has accumulated an impressive financial background.
Recently Amanda became a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional. A CFP® certification entails the completion of rigorous requirements that include course work and a series of examinations covering the following areas: the financial planning process, risk management, investments, tax planning and management, retirement and employee benefits and estate planning. Individuals with the CFP® certification must agree to meet ongoing continuing education requirements and to uphold the Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility developed by the Certified Financial Planning Board of Standards, Inc.
When I asked Amanda why someone would put their financial future in her hands she said, “I believe that although I must answer to clients at all times, more importantly I must abide by my Christian values, so every action I take should reflect my faith. That is why I operate my business in a way that I feel is ethical and honest. I have always liked to help people; I feel I can make a real difference in the lives of clients, especially during challenging times. No matter how the markets change, clients’ goals and dreams don’t go away. I enjoy listening to clients, understanding their feelings, needs, dreams and concerns, and helping them plan for their goals. I believe that having a clear picture of where you want to go–and an understanding of what it will take to get there–makes getting there much more possible.”
Amanda grew up in the small town of Fort White where she attended Fort White Elementary School. Sixteen years ago Amanda married Eric Payne and have two daughters, Hannah - 15 and Madison - 10. Hannah is following in Eric and Amanda’s footsteps by attending Santa Fe High School with hopes of Graduating from UF like her mom and dad. Madison attends High Springs Elementary School where Amanda volunteers.
I am not sure where this busy mom gets the time for so many community projects but she is a member of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, the Alachua Business League and a Board Member for the Alachua Chamber of Commerce. She is also a Board Member of Masterpiece Playhouse Inc., a non-profit organization in Lake City that provides a place for children 5-17 to explore theatrical arts.
Contact Amanda for a complimentary initial consultation. She will help you understand investment concepts and strategies to help you feel more secure about your financial future.
Amanda S. Payne, CFP®
With the practice of Karen M. Harvey
The initial consultation provides an overview of financial planning concepts. You will not receive written analysis and/or recommendations. Broker-, investment and financial advisory services are made available through Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA and SIPC. Some products and services may not be available in all jurisdictions or to all clients. Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and CFP (with flame design) in the U.S.