SAs share forensic science expertise with Georgian MPs

  • Published
  • By Thomas Brading
  • OSI Public Affairs

Two Office of Special Investigations (OSI) Special Agents, experts in forensic science, recently participated in a Crime Scene Exchange with the Georgian Military Police (MP) during a two-day event filled with hands-on exercises.

Special Agents Emily Leggett and Michael Buckley, Forensic Science Consultants (FSC), both assigned to the 4th Field Investigations Squadron (FIS) in Vogelweh Cantonment, Germany, interacted with over 50 Georgian MPs and members from the U.S. Embassy Force Protection Detachment (FPD) in Georgia.

“The exchange allowed participants an opportunity to share critical skills and knowledge with one another and increase their ability to successfully process and document crime scenes,” said Special Agent Mark Ryan, FPD Tbilisi, Georgia, and attendee.

Leggett and Buckley started the event by discussing the basic elements of crime scenes, from processing techniques to documentation standards and then moved on to specific team roles while processing a crime scene and the importance of documentation through photographs, sketches and notes.

“[The exchange] was an all-around fantastic event and a great opportunity to show the growing partnership between FPD and our Georgian counterparts,” Ryan said.

The exchange covered the importance of entry control logs; how Dr. Edmond Locard’s exchange principle is connected to identifying and collecting items with potential evidentiary value; evidence preservation and collection; crime scene roles, like leadership, note-taking, searching, using a photographer and sketching a crime scene.

U.S.-Georgian joint exercises continue to play an important role in the region with bi-annual events such as Noble Partner and Agile Spirit taking center stage. In Sept. 2022, over 2,000 servicemembers from 20 nations, including the United States.

“Exercises like Noble Partner continue to demonstrate that U.S. and its partners are stronger together and highlighted the U.S. commitment to stability and security in the region,” Ryan said.

During the recent Noble Partner training exercise, the Georgian MP helped safeguard U.S. equipment during transport and provided security for U.S. personnel taking part in the exercise.

“Participation in the exchange program with American counterparts was very interesting and beneficial for both parties,” said Giorgi Zakariadze, Military Police Regional Main Dept. of Operative Monitoring senior inspector.

“It was a good sample of sharing professional knowledge and experience and at the same time building the new professional cooperation between both parties,” Zakariadze added.

The Crime Scene Exchange consisted of two parts. After the discussion on crime scene processing fundamentals, the exchange allowed participants to evaluate mock crime scenes; the first was death by firearm and the second was a sexual assault allegation.

“The exchange program was beneficial for both parties, as we were able to exchange our experience and introduced to each other professional experience,” said Lt. Col. Mikcheil Akhvlediani, Georgian military police. “The U.S.-Georgian cooperation improves and helps both parties to be introduced to each other professional skills and knowledge, also it helps to establish the best partnership between the countries.”

To prepare for the mock crime scenes, Georgian MPs were divided into groups with a mix of investigators and first responders along with an OSI FSC. The groups received a briefing on the mock crime scene before evaluating it. 

Then, each group walked through how they would process the crime scene, what resources they would use, and where the FPD or Defense Department (DoD) might be needed. As a result, the organizations exchanged a great deal of information about crime scenes and learned from one another about different methods used when responding to a crime scene.

“The FPD’s principal mission is to detect and warn of threats to DoD-sponsored personnel and resources in transit in Georgia and the partnership between the Georgian MP and FPD has been vital to ensuring mission success.” SA Ryan said, “The Georgian MPs' professionalism and expertise have been demonstrated time and time again.”

The hands-on mock crime scenes encouraged interaction and feedback on information previously discussed. After a group completed one mock crime scene, they moved to another.

“The mock crime scene scenarios helped participants practice their skills identifying and collecting evidence,” SA Ryan said. “This exchange cultivates an understanding of how each law enforcement agency examines and works through crime scenes and will protect U.S. service members as they continue to participate in Noble Partner and Agile Spirit”

OSI FSCs completed two similar Crime Scene Exchanges in 2022, with teams from Kenya and Turkey. Looking ahead to 2023, OSI officials hope to continue to strengthen partnerships within the 4th FIS area of responsibility, which includes Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

“American-Georgian exchange programs help Georgian Military Police staff members not only improve their knowledge and professional experience, but also help use the American colleagues experience to implement in their professional activities,” Zakariadze said.

According to participants, the exchange program was beneficial to everyone involved.

“During the meeting best practices and experience were shared by both parties and we shared our experience and daily work as well,” said Lt. Col. David Beridze Adjara military police operative. “We will be happy to see those kinds of exchange programs in the future.”