Latest in Crime Clues Is in Evidence at Detectives Convention


The saleswoman couldn't have asked for a better spot in the entire hotel.

From her table adjacent to the dining room, Ines Bond had ample opportunity to pitch her company's crime-scene cleanup services to convention goers as they milled around waiting for lunch.

Standing beside gory photos of blood-soaked carpets and decomposing bodies, Bond explained that her co-workers were every bit as tough-skinned as the people to whom she gave business cards Thursday, participants in the 27th annual conference of the California Homicide Investigators Assn.

"The reason for showing [the photos] is to show that we have a stomach for it, just like [the detectives] do," said Bond, vice president of Cerritos-based Masters Emergency & Restoration Services Inc.

Despite their reputation as hard-boiled enforcers and steely-eyed investigators, the 600 officers who gathered from across western North America showed up in downtown Long Beach for the three-day convention precisely because they have not seen it all.

Fremont homicide Det. Will Cannon said he has learned many a crime-solving tip at past conventions, including advice on how to treat DNA evidence. Of course, he said, that was before the O.J. Simpson murder case sent that technology "into orbit."

Still, he added, other knowledge remains useful. During an earlier year's seminar on blood spatters, Cannon said, he learned how to read stains in rooms where murderers have bludgeoned or stabbed their victim.

"You can tell if somebody's right-handed or left-handed from the way [the weapon] is flung," Cannon said.

As might be expected, the convention is not all work. About 80 officers kicked off this year's meeting Wednesday with a day of golf at Long Beach's Recreation Park Golf Course.

In fact, recreation is so important to the tradition that organizers book the convention in Reno every other year to provide officers the opportunity to have fun and gamble, said Long Beach Police Det. Estella Martinez, who helped organize this year's meeting.

But the convention means more to these officers than seminars, golf and night life, Martinez said.

"We do this to build contacts," she said.

Although most of the association's 15,000 members come from California, some belong to police departments as far away as Alaska, Hawaii and Canada, she said.

"We work so much with each other that we join each other's organizations," she said. "The people we investigate don't just stay in one city, obviously."

Displays consisted of software for computer-aided investigation and innovations in evidence markers.

Laser and aerosol-spray in hand, sales manager Dick Rogers of Tucson-based Evi-Paq staked out one end of the vendors room to demonstrate his inventions designed to help officers who photograph bullet casings and determine gunfire trajectories.

Detectives listened to discussions ranging from an update on video enhancement technology to the latest appellate court decisions. The convention concludes today with a speech by William Hodgman, a prosecutor in the Simpson case.

The seminars, however, remain obscured behind a thin blue line of secrecy. Organizers whisked away reporters from a seminar titled "Officer Involved Shooting," just as defense attorney Bruce Praet was to speak on how officers can help their lawyers attack the credibility of witnesses who would testify against them.

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