I am honored to be serving as WAI president during the upcoming year and feel truly blessed to be part of such an outstanding organization. One of the great strengths of the WAI is the expertise of our members, which is displayed every year during our annual educational conference. I have had the opportunity to attend sessions at these conferences since 2003 and use the forensic knowledge acquired on a daily basis in the performance of my duties as a detective at the Dodge County Sheriff’s Department.
In March, I was able to attend the 2013 conference, which was held in Rothschild. The event was a great success, due in large part to the dedication and skill of the members of the conference committee. I wish to personally thank each of them for their efforts and hard work.
Of particular note at this year’s conference was the establishment of an annual award to honor one of our members, Lt. Brian Murphy of the Oak Creek Police Department. This was done to serve as a tribute to Brian’s acts of bravery at the Sikh Temple shooting and for his many years of dedicated service to the WAI. The award takes the form of complimentary registration at our annual conference for one member of the host agency. This year’s inaugural recipient was Jeremy Hunt of the Rothschild Police Department.
I also wish to make mention of another attendee I met at the conference, Holly Schulz, who is a student in the forensics program at the Fox Valley Technical College. Holly told me how impressed she was with the training she received and promised to inform her fellow students about our organization. People like Holly are the future of the WAI and I look forward to seeing her and other students at our upcoming conferences.
Another strength of our organization is the networking that occurs between members. One result of this was the development of the Wisconsin Evidence and Best Practice Manual. Prior to the involvement of the WAI, there were no existing standard practices for property and evidence managers in this state. The WAI recognized that evidence managers are part of the law enforcement team and supported an evidence committee. Due to the hard work and passion of the members of this committee, the manual was developed and has now been presented at our last two educational conferences. More than 200 evidence managers from Wisconsin have attended this training. In addition, two members of the Illinois Association of Property and Evidence were present at the 2013 conference. They were amazed at our final product and want to establish their own manual based on our work.
The development of the manual also shows the determination of the WAI to be a progressive organization, one that identifies the issues and needs of the law enforcement community and then finds solutions. I believe that in order to sustain such a great organization, we need to have as many members as possible involved in our various committees. Members can join a committee at any time during the year and I ask that each of you reflect on your strengths and become involved. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.