Liberty County deputy, firefighter graduates from National Forensic Academy

Liberty County Sheriff's Deputy Zack Harkness (center) is pictured with Texas Rangers Brian Burney and Dean Fant at the National Forensic Academy in Oakridge, Tenn.

Zack T. Harkness, a deputy with the Liberty County Sheriff’s Department, recently completed his coursework and graduated from the prestigious and highly competitive National Forensic Academy, located in Oakridge, Tenn.

The National Forensic Academy is a component of the University of Tennessee Law Enforcement Innovation Center (LEIC), an agency of the University of Tennessee Institute of Public Service. The Academy trains investigators from federal, state, county, and local agencies as well as international organizations.

Liberty County Sheriff’s Deputy Zack Harkness (front left) participates in a forensic dig as part of his training at the National Forensic Academy in Oakridge, Tenn.

Through the intensive 10-week residential program, law enforcement officers learn from expert national instructors in almost every aspect of forensic criminal investigation. This 400-hour program is designed to meet the needs of law enforcement agencies in evidence identification, collection, and preservation.

Areas of study include the following: bloodstain pattern analysis, bomb threats at the scene, crime scene management, computer sketching and mapping, courtroom testimony, criminal investigative analysis, DNA, firearms and toolmark identification, footwear and tire impressions, forensic fire investigation, latent fingerprint processing, crime scene photography, post-blast investigation, postmortem fingerprinting, serial number restoration, shooting incident reconstruction, trace evidence, death investigation, autopsy, bone trauma, burned bone, child fatality, manners of death, time since death, wound pattern interpretation, forensic anthropology, bone scatter search, forensic entomology, forensic odontology, forensic osteology, and human remains recovery.

Included in this comprehensive course is the usage of the Outdoor Forensic Training Center, oftentimes referred to as the “body farm”, a multiagency collaboration, used exclusively for law enforcement training.

In addition to his employment with the Liberty County Sheriff’s Department, Zack is also a proud member of the United States Coast Guard and is employed by the Cleveland Fire Department and is a reserve officer for the Cleveland Police Department.

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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.

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