Campus: Los Angeles -- May 21, 2007

In The Hot Field of Forensic Science, There’s No Hotter Facility For Students

Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center opens on the Cal State L.A. campus Fri., May 11

The next time criminal justice students at Cal State L.A. take a field trip to the largest regional crime lab in the country, they’ll just go upstairs.

On Friday, May 11, Cal State L.A. will join the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) for the formal dedication of the Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center—a five-story, $102 million facility that the University’s School of Criminal Justice and Criminalistics will share with the two agencies’ crime laboratories.

According to the School’s director, Joseph Peterson, “This unique partnership will serve as a valuable experience-based component of our academic program. Cross-fertilization will occur via research, student internships, employment networks, continuing education, and public education.”

Four of the center’s five floors will house the largest regional “full-service” crime laboratory in the United States, providing state-of-the-art analysis of DNA, vehicles, fingerprints, blood, firearms and other types of evidence. The second floor will include lecture halls, laboratories (for DNA, microscopy and serology), a library, computer lab and offices for Cal State L.A.’s programs; and it will also serve as home to the California Forensic Science Institute (CFSI), an academic arm of the new center directed by Rose Ochi, which offers in-service training, applied research and public education.

“For more than 50 years, Cal State L.A. has provided a top-notch criminal justice/criminalistics program, thanks in large part to the close association it has had with the local law enforcement and criminal justice communities,” Peterson said. “The new facility will enable us to become one of the premier forensic science programs in the country.”

Specifically, the center is a joint-partners collaboration among Cal State L.A., the LASD’s Scientific Services Bureau and the LAPD’s Scientific Investigation Division. With their labs and classes literally sandwiched within the facilities of a major, modern crime lab, Cal State L.A. students, Peterson said, will be well-prepared with the instruction and experience necessary to gain jobs as laboratory criminalists, crime-scene investigators and criminal justice practitioners and scholars.

The facility—and the relationships with forensic-science professionals—will also help faculty secure grants to do research on DNA evidence and other topics, thereby expanding the knowledge available throughout the criminalistics community, Peterson said.

Cal State L.A.’s is one of the oldest programs of its kind in the nation, educating both criminal justice (social science) and criminalistics (natural science) students in an integrated degree program. Its master’s program in criminalistics is considered among the best forensic laboratory science programs in the country. Its allied criminal justice program offers options in administration and forensic mental health, and prepares students for professional positions and for advanced research degrees.

Interest in the program has been heating up and criminal justice is among the University’s largest enrolled undergraduate programs. About 58 percent of the majors in criminal justice are female; about two-thirds are Latino.

The School plans to add a minor in forensic science (for chemistry and biology majors), and it is investigating the feasibility of offering a joint doctorate degree.

Many of the area’s police chiefs and other leading professionals in criminal justice are graduates of Cal State L.A. programs, including Leroy D. Baca, L.A. County Sheriff; Michael Brown, Commissioner, California Highway Patrol; Steven Cooley, L.A. County District Attorney; Elizabeth Devine, co-executive producer of CSI: Miami and former supervising criminalist for the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department; and Joseph Wambaugh, best-selling writer of such novels as “The Onion Field” and former LAPD officer.

For more information about the Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center, contact Joseph Peterson at (323) 343-4610 or Rose Ochi at (323) 343-4879.

Media Contact:
Sean Kearns, Media Relations Director,
Margie Yu, public affairs specialist,

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