Students Accept August Vollmer Award

Students Accept August Vollmer Award

Two PACS students were part of a team from the Bensalem Township Police Department (PA) that was honored this week by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). The Bensalem officers received the August Vollmer Excellence in Forensic Science Award, which ‘recognizes the significant impact forensic science has on the criminal justice system and seeks to acknowledge pioneering efforts in this field,’ according to IACP.

Lieutenant David Richardson and Sgt. Keith Christie, both students in the Master of Science in Criminal Justice program, earned this recognition when they employed the use of DNA sampling to create a database for the Bensalem, PA Police Department.

According to an award program describing their accomplishments, the Bensalem Township Police Department instituted the local DNA database in 2010 to combat the epidemic of local offenders committing the majority of offenses in their community. Since the program’s inception, Bensalem has collected more than 13,000 DNA samples from suspects and crime scenes and has been instrumental in more than 250 criminal investigations and prosecutions. Most importantly, this technique allows for the identification of key suspects in criminal offenses, preventing them from future crimes by stopping them in their tracks.

IACP Vollmer Award photoRichardson and Christie’s contribution to the project proves DNA can be used as an everyday tool to solve crimes, and illustrates the many types of cases that can be solved with DNA when crime scene detectives have the necessary training to collect and analyze the evidence. The August Vollmer award recognizes them for their ground-breaking use of forensic technologies as a crime-solving tool for law enforcement.

“The Vollmer Award is a really big deal,” said Todd Wuestewald, PACS professor of Criminal Justice. “August Vollmer was a pioneering innovator in policing whose contributions include things like the use of motorized patrol, two way radios and the first use of the polygraph lie detector. The International Association of Chiefs of Police is the oldest, largest and most influential law enforcement organization in the world, representing 20,000 police executives from more than 100 countries. IACP gives out only a handful of awards each year. Recognition of this caliber is pretty rare. I am extremely proud of David and Keith.”

The IACP has been serving the needs of the law enforcement community since 1893, and the organization has been instrumental in forwarding breakthrough technologies and philosophies from the early years of their establishment to the present. They conduct groundbreaking research, have launched numerous historically acclaimed programs—including the national use of fingerprint identification—and provide exemplary programs and services to their membership around the globe. For more information please visit

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Mary Hopper

Mary Hopper specializes in digital and content marketing at PACS. She is the project manager for the marketing department's team of writers, manages the college's digital advertising, and serves as editor and contributor for the PACS blog and social media efforts.