State Launches Alabama Investigator Academy

On Tuesday, February 23, 2021, District Attorney Mike O’Dell joined Attorney General Steve Marshall, Calhoun County District Attorney Brian McVeigh, officials from Jacksonville State University, and law enforcement from APOSTC, at JSU’s Fort McClellan Campus in Anniston, for the opening session of the Alabama Investigator Academy.

The Academy is a partnership between the Center for Best Practices in Law Enforcement at Jacksonville State University and the Alabama Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission (APOSTC). The state certified academy will provide law enforcement participants 80 hours of specialized training in investigations, covering topics such as crime scene procedures, death investigation, interviewing techniques, criminal law procedures, case file preparation and courtroom testimony. The curriculum is accredited by APOSTC.

“This academy will provide Alabama law enforcement personnel access to the best training available in investigations,” District Attorney Mike O’Dell said. “This program is the first of its kind in Alabama, and we’re one of only two states (Oregon being the other) in the nation providing a state certified training program in investigations.”

“For years, Jacksonville State—with the support of the Alabama Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission—has been a center of excellence in hosting the successful Northeast Alabama Law Enforcement Academy, and more recently the Center for Best Practices in Law Enforcement,” Attorney General Steve Marshall stated. “Accordingly, thousands of Alabama law enforcement officers are employing the skills and techniques learned at JSU to protect our communities. Therefore, it is fitting that the university will partner with APOSTC to raise training to the next level, incorporating comprehensive training for Alabama law enforcement investigators covering all aspects of a case, from processing a crime scene to testifying in court.”

“The creation and commencement of this academy is particularly gratifying to DA McVeigh and myself,” O’Dell pointed out. “We have worked closely over the past five years with Mark Hopwood of the Center for Applied Forensics at JSU, to improve the effectiveness of criminal investigations within our state. Working in conjunction with Kaleb Littlejohn, director of the JSU Center for Best Practices in Law Enforcement, the JSU administration, the Alabama Legislature, and APOSTC personnel, Hopwood has been instrumental in bringing to fruition the ideas and vision we have all shared over these few years. I have no doubt that this new Investigator Academy will greatly enhance the quality of our criminal investigations and our pursuit of justice as prosecutors. It is imperative that law enforcement officers across the state be given the very best training possible regarding relevant and emerging trends and procedures in criminal investigations. It is an incredible resource, and we are tremendously proud and grateful that it is now hosting its first session.”

The Investigator Academy will be broken into four blocks over the span of four months, with Session #1 beginning this past Tuesday. Two to three sessions will be hosted per year, with Session #2 scheduled for July 2021. The curriculum is taught by experts recognized in the various fields, led by faculty from the JSU Department of Criminal Justice and Forensic Investigation. More than 25 officers from across Alabama are participating in the Academy’s first session.

“I am very pleased that we have 5 local law enforcement officers from our Circuit participating in the first Session of the Academy,” O’Dell stated. “Sheriff Jeff Shaver from Cherokee County was on hand to support and encourage two of his officers, Tony Monroy and Michael Green, while we also had 2 officers from the Dekalb County Sheriff’s Department, Josh Hairston and Westin Fortner, and Josh York from the Fort Payne Police Department. Additionally, we are honored to have two of our office staff selected to be instructors this Session—Deputy District Attorney Bob Johnston on Criminal Law Procedures, and Investigator Wade Hill on Case File Preparation.”

Officers interested in signing up for training should visit the JSU Continuing Education website at www.jsu.edu/ceo or contact Kaleb Littlejohn at CBPLE@jsu.edu.

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