Jay Park ’22
On Feb. 25, Trinity College’s Center for Student Success and Career Development hosted an event in the Life Sciences Center’s (LSC) Boyer Auditorium titled “Forensic Fascination: From the Crime Scene to the Courtroom & Beyond.” The keynote speaker was retired detective and former forensics lab director Roger A. Forsthoff, an individual with over three decades of experience in the field of forensic analysis.
Forsthoff was the director of the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office Forensic Laboratory, located in Jersey City. Currently Forsthoff is a professor of Crime and Rorensics in the School of Criminal Justice at Farleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. Detective Forsthoff’s depiction of forensics was an account of the harsh reality of the job. According to him, “forensics is all about contrasts.” Forsthoff explained that it is the duty of forensic scientists to understand such distinctions in order to maintain objectivity when conducting their studies.
Forsthoff says that the topic of forensics is a juxtaposition in and of itself. The reality of forensics is oftentimes in stark contrast to the doctored and exhilarating thrill that one sees portrayed in various forms of media. The reality is that forensics does not always follow the same number of steps every time to reach the same desired result. The reality is that crime scenes are never “clean” and Detective Forsthoff says it is his job to find order in the chaos. The reality is that there will always be times when one does not know what to look for, where it seems as though there is no way to sort through the mess; but Forsthoff posits that in using all the objective forensic techniques available, one will be able to find something of value.
In describing a case from earlier in his career where a months-old toddler was killed by a bowling ball thrown off the side of a highway, the detective recalled how his own daughter was of a similar age during the time of this case. He remarked, “it’s not always easy.” However, there is much to be said about his ability to keep a level head throughout the entirety of the event, as many of the slides presented were extremely graphic and brutal in nature.
In addition to Trinity students in the audience, there were individuals present from every facet of society, from practicing attorneys to professors of chemistry. This highlights the importance of events such as this, as it brings together not just the students of this academic institution, but the surrounding communities as well; in doing so, students are given the opportunity to create networks that they otherwise would not have been able to do.
Even as the event ran for two and a half hours and it became clear with the conclusion of Detective Forsthoff’s presentation that this was an event attended by those with a clear, divested interest in the topic, as the level of engagement remained high through to the end.