by Charles T. Jackson
I have recently been asked “Why do you limit your available training to law enforcement employees?” This is a question that I have been asked many many times, and with this, and subsequent posts I am hoping to both finally answer the question, and dispel the persistent assertion that the attitude is “elitist” and “exclusionary”.
The reasons, when considered, are actually pretty simple and based in common sense. When you consider any “profession” whatsoever, can you think of any that allow you to practice the act of any position, without first being an associate, or employee of that organization? I’ll use trash collection as an example. When I was five years old, I reportedly had a deep passion for assisting our local trash collection guys with the throwing of the trash into what in my young mind was the coolest vehicle ever put on the road. Every Monday I would wait for them to come up the street, I would get ready at my neighbors house and when they finally arrived, I would grab the light stuff, throw it into the truck, and then move on to our trash, and then the neighbors on the other side. After that the trash guys would kindly send me home and say that I’d have to wait until I was older to be a trash guy. I drew pictures of the trash trucks, and deeply admired the guys who did the work week in and week out. This of course was then, and is to this day a source of great entertainment to my family. As a teenager I landed a summer job at our local Department of Public Works that let me reach that lofty goal set at so young an age. My point in all of this is no one can simply walk in off of the street, and start doing a job that is a part of any field without first becoming an employee within an organization that contains that desired field of interest.
Now of course, the argument has always been, “what about a private contractor scenario?”. In my 19 years of service in the field of composite imaging, I don’t know of anyone that has entered the field “cold” with no background what-so-ever and made a career of contract composite imaging, but having said that, if one were working under the outline of a long term “contract” it could easily be said that they were in fact “employed” by that agency.
My decision was initially based on a statement once made by one of my own trainers who expressed remorse at having taken tuition from hundreds and hundreds of students that she knew were never going to be able make career in Forensic Art regardless of their passion for the field unless they actually obtained a position somewhere in law enforcement.
While this whole philosophy could be debated, and has been debated ad-nauseum, years and years of evidence demonstrates that you can’t just take a couple of classes in anything, and then just start working in the field from the outside. So for me the decision was simple, I’ll just limit my instruction to those with the fewest hurdles to getting started in the field of composite imaging.
In my next post, I’ll discuss the practical aspects of limiting the availability of Composite Imaging training to law enforcement employees eg. insurance coverage, evidence generation/handling, and access to victims and witnesses. Thank you for your interest.