Investigator brings science to students

By Casey Peacock: PNT Staff Writer

Crime Scene Investigator Steve Halvorson’s passion for his job captivated an audience Wednesday at Eastern New Mexico University.
Halvorson, a detective with the Roswell Police Department, has 22 years of experience in the field of law enforcement. He is an expert in the field of fingerprint identification and teaches crime scene classes to several agencies. He is also trained in blood splatter, bullet trajectory, serial number restoration, crime scene photography and video, according to a press release issued by ENMU.

Halvorson spoke to students, faculty and the public at the request of ENMU’s Criminal Justice Association to give interested people a taste of the science.

“It’s been in the last few years that we’ve gotten people trained and in this job,” Halvorson said.
Halvorson said many advancements have been made in crime scene investigation since the days when the work was done by officers on site. A few pictures and some fingerprints were once the standard evidence collected at a crime scene, Halvorson said.

“What good is it if you can’t take fingerprints and read the whole thing,” Halvorson said of being able to correctly process a scene.

Throughout his presentation, Halvorson demonstrated many of the tools of his trade — everything from a fingerprint kit to a blood kit to a digital camera to a trajectory rod, which is used to determine the path that a bullet has taken.

“You’ve got to be able to reconstruct what happened,” Halvorson said.

Halvorson also displayed many photographs and evidence from actual crime scenes. Though graphic in nature, Halvorson wanted those interested in pursuing a career in forensics to see what they will have to be dealing with, he said.

“Not everything you do in forensics is geared toward the bad guy, it’s also geared toward the good guy,” Halvorson said.

Not all evidence is used to convict a person — at times it is used to exonerate someone, he explained, using as an example a justified self-defense shooting.

Not only must forensics investigators deal with blood and guts, but also the smell that comes from decaying and decomposing bodies.

There is also the potential of having a personal connection with some cases, Halvorson said.

“If you are going to do this you are going to encounter family and friends,” Halvorson said. “Don’t take it personally.”

ENMU senior and criminal justice major Michael Carrasco said he was not offended by the graphic nature of the presentation.

“I thought it was very interesting. I thought he was very informative,” Carrasco said.

Carrasco stated that his mother used to work in the local District Attorney’s office where he is from and was exposed to pictures and other items that were from actual crime scenes. During a ride-along, he was also able to witness first-hand an actual murder scene, he said.

In closing, Halvorson encouraged those who wish to pursue a career in forensics to follow their intuition, process all scenes carefully and professionally and to keep intact their professional integrity, he said.

“There is nothing like the excitement you get when you find the critical piece of evidence that nails someone,” Halvorson said.