05/30/2007

Icelander first foreign officer at National Forensic Academy in Tenn.

By Darren Dunlap
Knoxville News-Sentinel

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Before he became a policeman in Iceland's capital city and set his sights on the National Forensic Academy in Knoxville, Johann Eyvindsson had sampled several other careers.

As a boy, he'd worked in his father's auto shop during the school year, and during the summers, he worked on farms. He later joined the Iceland Coast Guard and, after six years, got out and became a welder and steel fabricator.

Then in 2002, Eyvindsson fell in love with police work and, one year later, the dream of going to the NFA's crime scene

Eyvindsson is the first officer from a foreign country accepted into the NFA's program, said Nathan Lefavbre, forensic training coordinator. Iceland is a small nation island of about 330,000 in the North Atlantic.

Lefavbre said the NFA is about five years old and that there's always been interest in the academy from abroad.

"We're really excited to have him," said Lefavbre.

Eyvindsson has 17 classmates who come from New Jersey, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas, Georgia, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Officers chosen for the academy's 10-week in-residence training program learn about evidence identification, collection and preservation.

The NFA is part of the University of Tennessee's Law Enforcement Innovation Center.

Eyvindsson's class was in its third week last week and spent time in a chemistry lab at Walters State Community College where they practiced lifting latent fingerprints from a number of surfaces.

One of Eyvindsson's favorite techniques involves lifting prints from the inside of a glove. With little prompting, he demonstrated for a reporter.

It's the hands-on aspect of the training that he said he likes so much. In a few weeks, he's going to UT's Anthropological Research Facility, also known as the Body Farm.

"Usually at schools, you learn from

ON KNOXNEWS.COM

Video: The National Forensic Academy's first foreign student, Iceland police officer Johann Eyvindsson, talks about his experience.

investigation training program in Knoxville. He'd learned about the NFA through a six-part TV series on the Discovery Channel, he said.

"I watched every one of them," said Eyvindsson, 32. "I watched them over and over again. I was so excited. I wasn't positive that I was going to get into the program. It's very competitive. They'd never taken a foreign student before."

Johann Eyvindsson,

on watching a six-part Discovery Channel series about the National Forensic Academy in Knoxville

books," he said. "Everything we learn, we learn hands-on. We learn about human remains - we work with human remains. ... We have a group of people with a lot of experience, and they are discovering methods they have never seen before."

Eyvindsson joined the Reykjavik Police Department in 2002. In 2003, he joined the Kopavogur Police Department, where he concentrates mostly on narcotics and crime scene investigations.

He came to the United States in summer 2005 to learn more about crime scene and fire investigation. He recently graduated from Indiana University with honors where he earned a bachelor's degree with an emphasis on criminal justice and natural sciences.

He said it was an honor to be in the NFA program and reflected on how he came to police work.

"It was by accident, basically," said Eyvindsson, who is married and the father of four children. "I needed to work shifts for a while for certain financial reasons. I found the police job, and I just loved it.

"I thought (I'd) never do anything else in my life. ... Very soon, I got interested in forensic science." 


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