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EPS brings national forensic training in-house

19-Oct-2021

The Edmonton Police Service (EPS) had to innovate when the impacts of COVID shut down the Canadian Police College (CPC) in Ottawa last year.

The CPC is one of two places in Canada where police officers from across the country and abroad go to learn a comprehensive eight-week program called the Forensic Identification Course (FIC) – the training members need to become forensic investigators.

“When COVID hit, we had five of our junior members registered to attend CPC in August, all five of which were cancelled due to travel restrictions,” said Sgt. Bryce Gibbon. “In Crime Scenes Investigation Section (CSI), where we have 30-35 members, five of them were now in a position where they couldn’t get the training they needed to work independently. That’s a massive liability that would prevent our section from keeping up with call volume.”

When a member joins forensics, they take an introductory course, and then get placed in a CSI squad where they begin to learn basic duties for four to seven months.

After completion, the member traditionally attends CPC for the FIC course and officially starts their Forensic Understudy Program, which can take up to a year to complete.

“The understudy demonstrates that they are competent forensic identification officers, and the eight-week FIC course is imperative in training these members” says Gibbon.

 

The EPS was given the green light to develop its own in-house course that would be the equivalent of the FIC course—offering both a combination of classroom and hands-on learning.

A year later, the EPS has hosted two FIC classes, with a third scheduled for March 2022. With significant planning from head instructors Const. Dino Pizzi and Const. Greg Symes, the team have hosted guest lecturers from not only EPS but also Calgary Police Service, the RCMP Forensic Laboratories, the Edmonton Crown Prosecutors Office, the University of Alberta Forensic Anthropology Department, and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

Access to an in-house FIC course also means members can now complete their training while also staying close to home rather than travelling for eight weeks.

Although the College has since started courses again, they are restricted with how many students they can host and are still experiencing a nationwide backlog. To help, the EPS recently took on two forensic officers from the Calgary Police Service through FIC and has plans to continue the course moving forward on an ongoing basis.

A special thank you to everyone who made this opportunity possible.