Crime Scene & Evidence Documentation
Update, 25 Jan. 2012: The Crime Scene and Evidence Documentation field training will not be held this year. Alternatively, we encourage you to take our online International Forensic Death Investigation course, if you have not already done so. If you would like to be notified when this course is again scheduled, please email us at forensics [at] phrusa [dot] org, or use our online form.
This course is designed for human rights field investigators who may be confronted with having to document evidence of human rights violations as first responders to a crime scene. Participants gain an understanding of the essentials of digital forensic photography, note taking, sketching, and chain of custody. Alumni will be able to document evidence of human rights violations in a manner which will be admissible in court at a later date, and maximize the information shared with other experts.
The course spans five days of lectures and practical training, including student documentation of several mock scenes. As digital photography is now commonly used for evidence purposes, the course will focus on basic training on digital image management and digital photography, as well as basic sketching techniques. Photographic documentation methods will be taught through traditional methods of crime scene evidence documentation, including three-dimensional spaces photography and sketching.
While the focus of this course is documentation of crime scenes, a limited amount of time will be devoted specifically to the photo documentation of evidence of alleged torture and abuse.
This course is appropriate for human rights field investigators, medical professionals, employees of human rights NGOs, journalists, and anyone who might find themselves as a "first responder" to a crime.
- Camera: It is best for each student to bring his/her own digital camera. A digital SLR camera with a flash is recommended. Please contact the IFP with any questions regarding the suitability of your camera.
- Stefan Schmitt is Director of the International Forensic Program at Physicians for Human Rights. In 1992 Schmitt helped set the foundation for an independent non-governmental forensic anthropology team exhuming and analyzing skeletal remains from mass graves in Guatemala. Prior to joining Physicians for Human Rights, he worked for nine and a half years in the Crime Scene Section at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's Crime Lab.
- Additional instructors as announced.
The training takes place at the Pat Thomas Law Enforcement Academy, located in rural Florida outside of Tallahassee.
Course Details for Spring 2011:
The cost of the course, including lodging and two meals a day, is $1000.
- A limited number of scholarships are available to offset the cost of tuition. To apply for a tuition scholarship, please submit our Scholarship Application (pdf) with your course application (pdf). Please be aware that we are not able to assist with travel expenses.
- Accommodations will be provided from the evening of Sunday, May 22, through the morning of Saturday, May 28. Please plan to arrive on Sunday, May 22.
- Lodging for all students has been arranged at the Pat Thomas Law Enforcement Academy, which is approximately seven miles outside of Tallahassee, Florida. Each student lodges in an individual room and bathroom.
- Students are required to cover the transportation to and from the Pat Thomas Law Enforcement Academy; the closest airport is the Tallahassee Regional Airport.
- An onsite cafeteria will provide two meals a day (breakfast and lunch).
- Dinner is not included. Nightly arrangements will be made for student-purchased dinners. Recommended budget is $20-$30 per day for dinner.
- Students interested in making in-town visits or their own dinner plans during the week should arrange to rent a vehicle.
Students must submit by February 28, 2011:
- the Course Application (pdf),
- a current CV or Resume, and
- 2 letters of recommendation - use this form (pdf).
Late applications will be considered, space permitting; however, only 20 spaces are available so timely application is strongly encouraged.
If you are in need of a letter of invitation in order to apply for a visa to attend this course, please use this form (pdf).
Acceptance notifications will be sent by March 10, 2011.
A $500 non-refundable deposit is due by April 15, 2011, with the balance due by May 1. No refunds will be given after May 15.