Blaine, congratulations on your new role! Tell us more about your law enforcement career. How did you get into digital forensics, and specifically, video and multimedia?
Thanks so much! I couldn’t think of a better way to transition from my law enforcement career than to join the team at Amped Software. I’m honored and humbled to be a part of this group.
I got into digital and multimedia forensics by accident. I studied communications and journalism at university and after graduation, worked for a year as a reporter at a small market ABC affiliate in the western U.S. I left that position and moved to Oklahoma for personal reasons, hoping I could land an entry-level role at one of the television stations in Oklahoma City.
The opportunities in OKC never came to pass, so I began applying everywhere I could just to find work. I was eventually hired as a 911 dispatcher at the local sheriff’s department in Norman because I had a communications degree. Working in that role for a short time led me on a new career path, and I gave up pursuing television with no regrets.
A few years later, I joined the Norman Police Department and was a patrol officer for several years before becoming a detective. I transferred into the investigations division because the forensic video analyst at the time was leaving for the private sector. The investigations command staff assigned me to the newly vacant forensic video analyst role because I “used to be a TV reporter and knew all about video.” While my experience in broadcast television and the FVA workflow in 2005 were worlds apart, I was excited about the opportunity and the challenge.
We understand you’ve used Amped software for years as a customer. What about the role and the company excited you enough to join as an employee?
I became an Amped customer in 2012 after a colleague referred to the company as their “new best friend!” I had a great deal of success with FIVE almost immediately and the accuracy and efficiency of my casework increased exponentially. After being an Amped customer for several years, I was drawn to the role mainly because of the people and culture there. Martino Jerian has compiled an amazing team that consists of some of the most respected people in the forensic community. His desire to build lasting partnerships with customers and users drives everything the company does to deliver software tools analysts want to use.
In your 15 years of experience as a video / multimedia analyst, what have you seen evolve as the biggest challenges to investigators, which vendors like Amped will help to overcome?
Currently, most of the challenges analysts face seem to be focused around the proper conversion of proprietary formats, authentication, quality enhancement and the presentation of results, both from the creation of demonstratives and the accurate reporting of the work done. Many of these issues are being directly addressed by the team at Amped Software either in presentations, blog posts, or future updates to the Amped Software solutions. We’re working diligently to help our users navigate these complex aspects of forensic video and image analysis. Plus there are a number of new challenges that Amped is researching, contributing not only to the forensic community by adding new features to current products or developing new products, but also to the scientific community, through the publication of research papers. Of particular interest in this moment is the topic of deepfakes. It is already possible to do something with Amped Authenticate, but the technology is rapidly evolving and so are the techniques to fight these deepfakes.
You’ve served as President/Corporate Vice President for the Law Enforcement and Emergency Services Video Association (LEVA). How did that experience inform your own forensic work, and how do you anticipate it will help you work with Amped’s North American customers?
Working in those roles for LEVA gave me the unique ability to empathize with the challenges that both solution providers and forensic analysts face. For vendors, the challenge of how, when and to whom do they market their products within a relatively small market of potential customers. For the analysts, the challenge of choosing which forensic tool allows them to accomplish the most complete analysis for the limited budget they may have. Knowing what kinds of tools LEVA’s corporate partners were producing allowed me to stay abreast of and utilize the latest trends and techniques not only in the science but in my own forensic work. I also think having the experience I did with LEVA will allow me to relate to Amped customers in a way that builds long-lasting partnerships.
Tell us a bit about your role: what do you expect a day in your professional life will look like?
My title is Technical Sales and Support Specialist so I’m currently learning the commercial side of the business. Soon I will work support calls into my daily duties then, tackle training. I anticipate any given day would consist of sales and support with training mixed in occasionally.
In your first year with Amped, what are you hoping to accomplish?
To continue to help Amped Software build on the relationships with their customers and users to provide them the best experience possible.
What about your career have you found most rewarding thus far?
Helping colleagues with challenges they faced with digital evidence. Whether it was helping detectives at Norman PD with recovering video, playback issues, or clarifications, or helping our prosecutor’s office with their evidence delivery and management, I am proud of what we as criminal justice partners accomplished. I realize I’m incredibly lucky and don’t think I could have found a better place to land than at Amped Software for supporting the law enforcement and the forensic imaging communities.
When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
When I’m not working, you’re likely to find me with a golf club in my hand enjoying what has been referred to as “a good walk spoiled,” although I’m not sure why.