Deandra Francis ’23 is working to differentiate fact from fiction when it comes to a subject the public can’t help but be fascinated with: crime scene investigation.
A Gannon criminalistics graduate and crime scene technician at the Albany Police Department in Georgia, Francis sought to educate others on the basics of crime scene investigation. She developed the introductory course Crime Scene 101 with an emphasis in topics including forensic photography, crime scene processing and documentation, fingerprint development and bloodstain pattern analysis. The class is hands-on and offers students a fun learning experience, however, it doesn't shy away from depicting the reality of the profession.
In fact, our favorite crime shows on television have more in common than just drama; they all contribute to what is called the CSI effect, which describes the ways in which the exaggerated portrayals of forensic science in popular media falsely influence public perception. These perceptions especially affect jury members, who evaluate the facts and evidence presented in court based on what they have seen on TV.
To Francis, there’s no better way to create a brighter future than to teach and develop the youth.
“The realm of forensic science and criminal investigation has become very popular around the world,” said Francis. “I want the students in my class to understand that it takes a lot of man hours and attention to detail to accomplish results from a crime scene and throughout a criminal investigation.”
Her first class took place on April 15, 2022, and was open to students ages 14 to 18. Francis said she plans to host more Crime Scene 101 courses spanning all grade levels, including a course for college students later in 2023.
Francis said her Gannon education increased her confidence in the field and motivated her to extend that knowledge to others. She even incorporated exercises from Gannon’s criminalistics curriculum into her Crime Scene 101 course.
“Being able to learn from current and former professionals in the field and know that I am executing my duties in my current role as a crime scene technician feels validating,” she said. “I am also able to apply the new knowledge from my courses to my work and it makes it all the more exciting to grow in the field.”