Forensic video lab ready for training, ready for duty

The goal of pursuing excellence in a university setting is not uncommon. The University of Indianapolis (UIndy) sets itself apart from others in its partnership with the non-profit Law Enforcement and Emergency Services Video Association (LEVA...

In the event of a national crisis, the LEVA lab can be secured and used as a fully operational video processing center.

Thousands of video assets could be brought in, and to process the evidence, a roster of LEVA-trained forensic video analysts is ready to be called upon. Until there is a need for the lab to become operational, its primary role remains training.

Future training

Initially, six LEVA courses have been selected to be conducted during this first year. Besides the basic- and intermediate-level forensic video analysis courses, others include:

  • "Basic Forensic Audio Analysis" was made possible by Digital Audio Corp., which donated $60,000 worth of its QuickEnhance audio clarification tool.
  • "Photographic/Video Comparison" focuses on the science of comparing known objects, vehicles, clothing and humans with CCTV images of questioned objects, vehicles, clothing and humans.

In the future, LEVA will be scheduling more classes, introducing additional topics and expanding its instruction cadre. In 2008, classes will be added for law enforcement video producers. The organization also is planning to develop deployable instruction to reach those unable to attend classes at UIndy.

"LEVA needs to remain ahead of the learning curve to not only meet the demand — but anticipate it," Garvin says.

When LEVA is not using its permanent lab, it will be used by UIndy faculty and students from various disciplines. But first, the faculty must be trained on the equipment and develop new programs.

"We're very excited about this partnership," says Christenberry. "What LEVA is doing is tremendously important. We're also excited about the potential use of this lab by our faculty and students — to help them put together better courses, better curricula so that students are better prepared once they leave the confines of the university."

Long term, Christenberry would like to see junior- or senior-level forensic courses in the lab.

With increased awareness of forensic video, comes increased demand for more training.

Fredericks talks to police executives about the benefits of forensic video when he conducts training at the FBI Academy.

"We stress that there's a huge opportunity with forensic video, but it's the responsibility of every police executive to ensure that their officers and civilian staff are trained with the tools they use and are trained to do their jobs," he stresses. "Processing video evidence is a scientific process — just like fingerprints, DNA and ballistics. The process should not be left to someone who doesn't understand video and has not been trained because he will misinterpret the evidence."

When video analysts are properly trained, he says then agencies will realize the benefits very quickly to their agency: faster results, more reliable information, accurate investigations, quicker resolutions in court, less overtime, less court time and a more professional agency overall.

Note: For more information about LEVA forensic video training, contact LEVA Vice President Jan Garvin at

Rebecca Kanable is a freelance writer living in Wisconsin. She specializes in law enforcement issues and can be reached at

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