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Cape Coral forensics expert shares knowledge

By Staff | Nov 22, 2008

Most days, Forensics Supervisor Larry Stringham is analyzing fingerprints or reconstructing crime scenes for the Cape Coral Police Department in the pursuit of truth and justice.

But on Friday, Stringham took the time to educate a group of local AARP members about how forensics technicians and technology aid police in solving major crimes such as sexual assaults and murders.

He was a guest speaker during the group’s monthly meeting.

“Forensics is the only department that does not try to put bad guys in jail,” Stringham said. “That is the detectives’ and the State Attorneys’ job to do; our job is to evaluate the evidence.”

No murder in Cape Coral has gone unsolved in 17 years, Stringham said.

He explained the forensic process of several local murders, including that of Wanda Rodriguez at the hands of her recently convicted husband Joseph Rodriguez, a former Cape Coral Police Department volunteer.

Stringham also explained the forensic science behind the murder of Nicole Simpson and President John F. Kennedy.

He talked about the use of alternative light source technology, calling it “probably one of the greatest things forensics has gotten into.”

Stringham demonstrated the use of a Blue-Merge Technology or BMT head, which uses light wavelengths to view forensic crime scene evidence, as well as a night vision filter used to view fingerprints on nonporous surfaces.

“Being able to speak to people and having them understand what we do… makes us more human,” Stringham said. “It also lets them know as citizens the capability that the Police Department does have and that we’re functioning at an optimal level.”

Stringham speaks publicly to groups several times a year, and the forensics department of the CCPD engages in 20 to 30 speaking engagements each year, he said.

Many of the crimes forensics technicians work are violent in nature, but Stringham is able to speak openly about his job.

“I don’t find it gruesome,” he said. “I find it part of my job.

Forensics requires Stringham to disconnect emotionally from his job so he can be efficient at solving crimes, he said.

“You need to have a skin that can be shed.

Television shows about forensics fictionalize the time it takes to solve a crime and other technological aspects of the field, which is a representation that can be dispelled by being educated, he said.

“It doesn’t really tell the story of what we do,” he said.

That is also part of why local AARP president Bob Hebner asked Stringham to speak.

“He put facts together for them instead of all fiction,” Hebner said. “These people don’t know anything about it, and it’s a very hot topic right now.

Hebner volunteers with the Cape Coral Police Department and knows Stringham as a friend, but admitted to fellow AARP members, “I don’t know anything about what he does” prior to Stringham speaking.

Stringham has been a forensics specialist for 17 years, and has been the forensic supervisor at CCPD for three years. He is also on the advisory board for the forensics departments at Florida Gulf Coast University and Edison State College.