Celebrating 10 years of the Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center

By Jillian Beck

Students demonstrate Luminol tests that reveal previously hidden traces of blood.
Inside a room within the Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center, students in white lab coats and goggles demonstrate Luminol tests, spraying the chemical solution to reveal a blue glow where previously hidden traces of blood are detected.

Across the hall, another group of students analyzes patterns in blood spatter and showcases the intricacies of fingerprinting.

This center on the edge of the California State University, Los Angeles campus is where, for the past decade, real-life “CSI” has met University academics. The center’s graduates can be found throughout Southern California, excelling in careers in forensics or criminalistics.

Cal State LA President William Covino (center) with State Sen. Robert M. Hertzberg (left) and former Gov. Gray Davis (right).

 From left: State Sen. Robert M. Hertzberg, President Covino, and former Gov. Gray Davis

“As we celebrate, we look back, of course, with great pride at what’s been accomplished and recognize that the work that takes place here every day has an immeasurable impact on Los Angeles,” Cal State LA President William A. Covino said at an Oct. 30 celebration marking the center’s 10th anniversary.

“It took a lot of people with a lot of vision and a lot of work to make this thing happen…”

The Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center houses the laboratories of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s and Los Angeles Police departments, and is also home to the Cal State LA School of Criminal Justice and Criminalistics and the California Forensic Science Institute.

The anniversary reception honored the center’s namesakes, State Senator and former Assembly Speaker Robert M. Hertzberg and former California Gov. Gray Davis, both of whom were instrumental in securing funds for the construction of the regional crime lab.

As Assembly speaker, Hertzberg championed the need for improved forensic science capabilities across California. Along with then-Gov. Davis, he helped ensure funding for the center, now the largest regional, municipal crime lab facility in the nation.

Criminalistics students stage a mock crime scene in the Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center.
Students learn about blood spatter analysis in the Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center.
During the reception, Covino presented to Hertzberg and Davis the California State University, Los Angeles Presidential Medallion. The medallion is the University’s highest honor and is bestowed upon individuals who have displayed outstanding leadership and extraordinary service to the community.

“When you’re in office, no matter what job you have, you always hope you can do something that leaves people better off…”

“It took a lot of people with a lot of vision and a lot of work to make this thing happen,” Hertzberg said to the hundreds of people gathered at the reception.

The center came to fruition because of “government working together at its best,” he said.

“When you’re in office, no matter what job you have, you always hope you can do something that leaves people better off,” Davis said after receiving the medallion. “When I see this building, it just so exceeds my expectations.”

Cal State LA students accepted into the highly competitive programs take courses related to forensic sciences, including crime-scene reconstruction and courtroom testimony, and have opportunities to work with LAPD and LASD investigators.

State Sen. Robert M. Hertzberg (center right) and former Gov. Gray Davis (center left) with students in the Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center
Since the center opened its doors on the University’s campus in 2007, more than 2,000 students have completed their bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice. Many graduates of Cal State LA’s criminalistics master’s degree program have gone on to work as crime lab employees for the LAPD and LASD.

Cal State LA Executive Vice President Jose A. Gomez, who was the emcee of the anniversary event, noted the invaluable real-world experience students receive thanks to the facility.

“The center merges scholarship with training and allows our students to benefit from working with the best in the business—crime scene investigators and forensic scientists from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s and Los Angeles Police departments,” Gomez said.

Photos by J. Emilio Flores

Lead photo: Students demonstrate Luminol tests that reveal previously hidden traces of blood. Photo 4: Criminalistics students stage a mock crime scene. Photo 5: Students learn about blood splatter analysis.

President
William A. Covino
 
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
Jose A. Gomez
 
Vice President for University Advancement
Janet S. Dial
 
Executive Director for Communications and Public Affairs
Robert J. Lopez
Editor
Jocelyn Y. Stewart
 
Graphic Designers
Nery Orellana
Alcie Villoria
Edward J. Kitaoka
Cory Grabow
 
Photographers
J. Emilio Flores
Tyrone Washington
Gareth Mackay
 
Online Magazine
Caroline Lee
Edward J. Kitaoka
Contributors
Jillian Beck
Carly Buechler
Robert J. Lopez
Margie Low
Akanksha Prabhune
Madeline Tondi
LeAnn Zuniga
 
Editorial Assistant
Irwin Medina
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Cal State LA
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Los Angeles, CA 90032-8580
 
Phone: (323) 343-3050
Email: magazine@calstatela.edu
 
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Credits
President
William A. Covino
 
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
Jose A. Gomez
 
Vice President for University Advancement
Janet S. Dial
 
Executive Director for Communications and Public Affairs
Robert J. Lopez
 
Editor
Jocelyn Y. Stewart
 
Graphic Designers
Nery Orellana
Alcie Villoria
Edward J. Kitaoka
Cory Grabow
 
Photographers
J. Emilio Flores
Tyrone Washington
Gareth Mackay
LeAnn Zuniga
 
Online Magazine
Caroline Lee
Edward J. Kitaoka
 
Contributors
Jillian Beck
Carly Buechler
Robert J. Lopez
Margie Low
Akanksha Prabhune
Madeline Tondi
 
Editorial Assistant
Irwin Medina