Susan Medley, a senior sexual offences forensic development manager for Scotland Yard in London, visited the University April 25-27 as a guest of University Police Services. She was brought to Reno as part of a grant from the state Attorney General's Office to train police officers in northern Nevada.
Medley and Todd Renwick, assistant UNRPD chief, sat down with Nevada News on April 27 to talk about the visit.
Nevada News: Tell us a little bit about the grant that brought Ms. Medley to Nevada.
Renwick:This is the 11th year we've received a grant through the attorney general's office for training northern Nevada law enforcement. Over three days each year, we bring together over 600 Northern Nevada law enforcement people for this training.
What the training focuses on is domestic violence and sexual assault. We'll bring in speakers to talk about new domestic violence / stalking cases, investigative techniques and terminology. We also bring in people who deal with sexual assaults and crimes. They talk about new techniques, trends, and investigations. In law enforcements it's very important to share relative cases, because that's how I think we retain information better—from learning from somebody else.
Nevada News: What prompted you to invite Ms. Medley?
Susan's background is a little different. She started as a finger print expert and went through additional training. Now her focus is on sexual assault and rape. We brought her out to speak to our staff. She shared some of her own cases and how they do business over there (at Scotland Yard in England). We all do it similarly, but there are a lot of differences.
Nevada News: Ms. Medley, tell me a little bit about how you came to be a senior forensic practitioner.
Medley:I joined Scotland Yard and then it was 5 years to become a forensic expert. As a trainee, you work at Scotland Yard and do all your training in-house, and then you chose whether you want to do forensics. Not everybody wants to. You can't go to court until you have five years experience.
I worked on lots of different specialist teams, but I worked on crime scenes for a while. There was a rapist who I was responsible for finding—he committed five rapes, and I identified him on the fifth one. Unfortunately, we have to verify it 3 times, so when we found out where he was, they (Scotland Yard) wanted to follow him to make sure we had all the evidence. They actually lost him while doing this. And in loosing him, he went on to rape a 19-year-old girl who had her twin babies with her.
That changed my life, because I was completely traumatized after that. From then on I was absolutely passionate about getting it right in sexual offenses, so I specialized in sexual offenses from then on. In 2000, we had her Majesty's inspector evaluate us on the investigation, and we were pretty bad. We fixed it and now, what we do, is we have specialists across the board on such offenses.
Nevada News: The guy who created CSI was actually a grad from UNLV. What do you think of the Nevada-born, CSI show?
Medley:I did a talk called "The Real CSI," because not only are we not glamorous, but we wear bunny suits [protective jumpsuits], we wear masks, gloves, and we look ridiculous. I have never seen a single detective wear such gear on CSI ever. I don't even think they wear gloves to pick up things. So it's very different. I love the program—don't get me wrong, I love it. But we have fun because of it, because people's expectations are ridiculously high. We are very quick, but we are not that quick. But I love the program nonetheless.
Renwick:We have the same problems because of CSI. It's amazing to see how much it affects someone else in a different country.
Medley:I have been asked to give advice on television programs in England and they never take it because it doesn't make good television. I tell them 'You have to wear specific clothing. You have to walk on plates so you don't walk on the floor.' They don't do that, because it takes away the sex appeal. They want the girl to look good, so she can't wear the bunny suit.
Nevada News: What have you learned while in Nevada?
Medley:I actually learned that we are all very similar and we all have the same problems. We're the same—it doesn't matter where you go.
Nevada News: You said the main difference between northern Nevada law enforcement and Scotland Yard is volume, but is there a difference legally?
Medley:Your sentencing in the states is much harsher and you also have more far-reaching powers over the suspects. They have so many rights here it's unbelievable. They don't have as many in England. And you carry guns, we don't carry guns.
Nevada News: In England, are campus police different from metropolitan police?
Medley:No, no they're not. We have a lot of colleges and they just come under the Metropolitan police. No matter where you are assaulted, if you report it, we [the metropolitan police] will deal with it. The only difference is if you're assaulted on a train or the metro, then they will deal with it. That's the only difference within London.
Nevada News: Where are you based?
Medley:My main base is at Scotland Yard, right in the middle of London. I also have a forensic facility in the outskirts of London. I also have an office in Westminster, near Parliament.
Nevada News: Was this your first trip to Nevada and what have you found the most interesting?
Medley:Everything's been interesting. It is my first trip to Nevada and it's been amazing. I would love to try and organize an exchange. We've done with it Australia and we learned a lot from each other. You haven't had as much volume as us, so you haven't learned some of the things we have.
One of the women in Reno the crime lab was telling me that she had a condom found in the desert, so it was in extreme heat. She found the profile of the victim on the outside and the suspect on the inside. I would never have thought to do that, because DNA hates heat. She must be amazing. She must be really good, because if you find something on a hot day in England you think "there's nothing on that."