Marshall University and the West Virginia State Police today received a United States Attorney's Award for Innovation in Justice for their collaborations on digital forensics, DNA testing and investigations.
U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin presented the award to Marshall University President Stephen J. Kopp and West Virginia State Police Col. C.R. "Jay" Smithers at the 2012 U.S. Attorney's Law Enforcement and Victim Assistance Awards Ceremony at the Marshall University Foundation Hall, Home of the Erickson Alumni Center, on Marshall's Huntington campus.
The award was given in recognition of the noteworthy partnership and collaboration between the Marshall University Forensic Science Center and the West Virginia State Police.
Dr. Terry W. Fenger, director of the Marshall University Forensic Science Center, and Cpl. Robert J. Boggs, a Digital Forensics Investigator with West Virginia State Police, were also present for the presentation of the award.
Goodwin said, "The West Virginia State Police and Marshall University Forensic Science Center's unique partnership has not only brought justice to countless crime victims, but it's allowed law enforcement to identify and apprehend criminals using innovative technology. I am proud to present the United States Attorney's Award for Innovation in Justice for their outstanding work."
The annual awards ceremony, hosted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of West Virginia, recognizes commendable service of federal, state and local law enforcement officers, as well as other leaders who have made significant contributions on behalf of the criminal justice system in the state.
"This is a very significant milestone in Marshall's history," Kopp said. "To be recognized along with the elite law enforcement agencies for the work we do to assist law enforcement in solving crimes is a testament to just how powerful and how advanced our Forensic Science program is here at Marshall University. We're one of a kind and I'm very proud of what they do. The work our folks do on behalf of local, state and national law enforcement is very, very important in solving crimes that would be most likely unsolvable."
Smithers said the West Virginia State Police partnership with Marshall University's Forensic Science Center is invaluable.
"This collaborative effort in a university setting allows us to take advantage of high tech tools, software and innovative thinking," Smithers said. "The field of digital forensics is constantly changing and our partnership with Marshall University allows for better opportunities to detect, investigate and successfully prosecute those involved in criminal activities."
Fenger said the partnership between the West Virginia State Police and Marshall's Forensic Science Center has developed over a 20-year period. "We have developed a working relationship that addresses the needs of the West Virginia population in the areas of public safety, but it also benefits the students of the Forensic Science graduate program because they get to observe how law enforcement handles criminal investigations, and they get to interact with working professionals," he said.
Fenger added that the award is important to Marshall's Forensic Science Center because it recognizes the hard work and dedication of its staff in all facets of the organization.
Boggs said the partnership between Marshall University and the West Virginia State Police is a model of true success and real world benefits to both the university and state police. "More importantly, I believe the benefits to the citizens of West Virginia are what really stand out in this collaboration," he added.
"Efforts at the West Virginia State Police Digital Forensics Unit (housed at the Forensic Science Center) have led to the prosecution of many types of people and crimes, especially those who choose to victimize the ones we cherish the most in society, our children," Boggs said. "In my opinion, that alone is a success directly realized by the partnership between Marshall University and the West Virginia State Police."
Boggs said being able to perform digital forensics is a very complicated task. "Having a law enforcement investigative element placed inside an academic institution provides a chance to combine resources and efforts to do real good for the public," he said. "Digital forensics changes very rapidly, and having access to academic resources from professors and graduate students as well as access to the best hardware and software really makes a difference when investigating, and ultimately having a successful prosecution."
The embedded video below includes brief interviews with R. Booth Goodwin, US Attornery for the Southern District of West Virginia; Marshall University President, Dr. Stephen J. Kopp; and Dr. Terry Fenger, Director of the MU Forenisc Science Center. The interviews are in regard to the 2012 U.S. Attorney's Law Enforcement and Victim Assistance Awards ceremony, held Monday, Oct. 15, at the Marshall University Foundation Hall, on MU's Huntington campus. This video is part of the Marshall University Communications YouTube Channel.
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Reprint of Marshall Magazine Spring 2012 Issue used by permission.