Officer’s new skills to help solve crimes
QUEENSLAND police are about to receive a massive boost to their investigative capabilities when one of their officers becomes the only person in the state qualified in advanced hair examinations.
As the 2015 winner of The Courier-Mail Police Scholarship, Sergeant Melissa Bell, 40, said she would be one of the only people in the country trained in this specific field.
The scientific officer with the Major Crimes Unit is learning how to score traits of hair samples usually found at scenes where a violent offence has taken place.
She will be able to look at the colour of the hair follicle, its pigment distribution and any damage it may have received.
“If the suspect is located, we can look at their hair and compare that to how we’ve scored the previous hair,” Sgt Bell said.
“You shed about 150 hairs every hour. That’s a lot of hair you can potentially shed. And it is that trace evidence I think we’ve been overlooking because we’re so consumed with DNA at the moment.”
Sgt Bell earned the scholarship after making a presentation to a panel of representatives from the police, media and universities.
She said she will attend training at the Australian Federal Police facilities in Canberra periodically over the next five months while she learns more about her work. She said she hopes to pass on skills to more officers in her 12-person unit.
The Courier-Mail Police Scholarship, which began in 1989, aims to strengthen community confidence in the police service in the wake of the Fitzgerald Inquiry and to advance officer training.