Forensic video lab ready for training, ready for duty

The goal of pursuing excellence in a university setting is not uncommon. The University of Indianapolis (UIndy) sets itself apart from others in its partnership with the non-profit Law Enforcement and Emergency Services Video Association (LEVA...


The goal of pursuing excellence in a university setting is not uncommon. The University of Indianapolis (UIndy) sets itself apart from others in its partnership with the non-profit Law Enforcement and Emergency Services Video Association (LEVA).

Together, they opened the LEVA Digital Multimedia Evidence Processing Lab on the university campus in February. The university provides the space and structural support, and LEVA provides the equipment and training.

In a dedication speech, Scott Kuntz, board vice chairman of LEVA, said, "The pursuit of excellence in forensic video analysis begins here."

About 1,000 law enforcement analysts already have received LEVA training and are familiar with LEVA's high standards. In addition to top-notch training, LEVA students now have access to the latest forensic video technology and a new training lab, which also can be converted to an operational lab in the event of a national emergency.

High-tech facility goes online

LEVA first began conducting training on the UIndy campus in 2004 at the invitation of Dr. Tom Christenberry, the director of public safety education in the university's School for Adult Learning. Christenberry became familiar with LEVA when he was the chief of media and technology for the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia.

In October of 2006, LEVA and UIndy signed a memorandum of understanding that says the video equipment will be permanently located in the lab for at least four years.

In the past, equipment was shipped in specifically for the LEVA training. Students also brought their own systems, which were frequently disparate with the LEVA equipment.

Today the lab has the most powerful and competent video systems in the world, says Grant Fredericks, a noted forensic video analyst. The high-tech equipment found in the lab includes 20 Ocean Systems computers. Each system is configured with: dual core, dual Xeon 2.33-GHz processors; 3-GB RAM; and 1 terabyte of internal media storage. These systems are outfitted for forensic video, still image, and audio clarification and analysis.

Ocean Systems dTective, powered by Avid Media Composer, is the core processing environment for forensic video. Ocean Systems ClearID powers these systems with forensic image clarification tools such as pattern remover for fingerprint clarification. DAC QuickEnhance AS provides these units with powerful and easy-to-use forensic audio clarification tools. Additionally, these units are connected via Avid Lanshare, a 4-terabyte shared storage solution that allows teams of investigators to access and move media files. The total configuration can handle more than 300 hours of uncompressed SD (standard definition) video, as well as more than 2,000 hours of DV25.

Students attending LEVA training bring with them copies of evidentiary video from their own departments to work on as part of their training. Avid LanShare allows students to collaboratively work together on a single case.

Nineteen of the 20 workstations are for student use. The instructor's workstation has a large, flat, touchscreen that allows him to see each numbered workstation. An audio component of the multimedia teaching system from Robotel allows the instructor to communicate individually with a student or speak with the entire class. For example, if a student has a question, the student can push a button and a corresponding button will light up on the instructor's screen. The instructor can put on a headset, look at the student's workstation and communicate one-on-one.

Each of the student stations has twin, flat screen monitors, allowing 38 students to work in the lab at one time. To listen to lectures, students move to a more traditional classroom where the instructor will likely use a laptop and LCD projector.

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