From the age of 14, Brittney Parchman knew she wanted to pursue a career in forensic science. Now, eight years later, she’s been promoted from being a trainee to a full-fledged Scenes of Crime Officer with the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS).
“It was (the TV show) CSI that first got me interested in it, it’s true” she admitted, chuckling, “but when I started studying forensic science in university, I realised that the work is nothing like what you see on TV. But I still loved it,” said 26 year-old Ms Parchman. Her appointment takes effect 1 March after spending the past 16 months shadowing other Scenes of Crimes Officers.
Ms Parchman attended the University College of the Cayman Islands before transferring to the University of Central Florida in Orlando, from which she graduated with a degree in Forensic Science with a minor in Chemistry in 2012. One summer during college, she interned with the RCIPS; after graduating, she returned to Cayman and was taken on as a trainee in the RCIPS Scenes of Crime Office in 2014.
“Forensic science is a broad area,” she explained. “While crime scene investigation is quite specific. I was definitely not ready to do this job right out of school; I needed additional training within this area.”
During her period of understudy, she has learned techniques used by her colleagues, honed her photography skills, and gradually gained enough experience to handle cases independently. She said throughout her training, “my fellow SOCO colleagues have been very encouraging and willing to assist whenever I needed them.”
The RCIPS also provided for Ms Parchman’s participation in a five-day course on crime scene investigation at the CSI Academy of Florida in Gainesville last May.
Ms Parchman’s hands-on training and regular mentoring by colleagues has paid dividends, an RCIPS spokesperson said. The quality of her work was recently commended by the court in an assault case, in which the scene photographs and albums she produced helped secure a conviction.
“I am delighted that we have been able to provide both the opportunity and the mentoring for a young woman like Ms Parchman to gain the skills and experience needed for her professional development,” said RCIPS Commissioner David Baines. “I know we will be hearing more good things about her work in the future.”
Asked how she feels having achieved what must have seemed like a distant goal back in 2012, when she was an RCIPS Intern, Ms Parchman said that her experience has only confirmed what she knew then. “I definitely chose the right career for me,” she said.
Ms Parchman is one of six Scenes of Crime Officers within the RCIPS.