After nearly 20 years of working in forensic laboratory management and education, Shreveport native Trey Green was looking to apply his expertise in a leadership role with an agency looking to grow in the ever-evolving field.
Green found such a position with the NOPD, joining the department as its new civilian crime lab director in January.
“I felt that with my unique perspective, I could bring something to the table in an organization that was growing and entering the new age of forensics where DNA study was becoming much more advanced and where crime was increasing,” he said.
Green’s unique perspective includes working with the Louisiana State Police’s crime lab in Baton Rouge and the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office Crime Lab in Slidell, as well as military experience in the U.S. Navy and in education and sales. Along with his extensive work experience, Green holds a Bachelor of Science degree in animal sciences from Louisiana Tech University and a Master’s degree in forensic sciences from LSU.
“We at the Crime Lab are, often times, the gatekeepers in a sense where we help justice go from the street through successful completion in the court room,” Green said. “We make sure that people who are accused of a crime, if they are found to be guilty, to be given justice according to what they deserve. We also make sure that victims of crime received the justice they deserve, as well as those who may have nothing to do with what happened are protected accordingly as well.”
Commander Darryl Albert, who oversees the NOPD Crime Lab and Central Evidence and Property units, said that the search committee was looking for a director who would be the best fit to lead the Crime Lab into the future.
“We had many good and qualified applicants, but Trey stood out and elevated himself,” Albert said. “Trey’s experience working in other labs and working overseas, as well as his military background, are crucial in this role as director. He can be soft spoken, but he will reach out to the department and be a strong leader to help move our lab into the future.”
Green described the experience of leading the NOPD Crime Lab as humbling.
“As thrilled as I am to be here and excited and pleased to be a member of the NOPD team, I’m really here to serve the department and the people of New Orleans,” he said.
A life of science and education
Green said he originally had goals of following in his father’s footsteps and becoming a medical doctor. However, after a year and half of studies, he chose to change direction to forensic sciences.
“Forensic science is something I had a deep attachment to in school,” he said. “I had some mentors in college who really conveyed that interest to me and created a passion in me that gave me something to focus on once I decided medicine was not the path I would take.”
After hearing from a guest speaker from the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab, Green said, he knew he wanted to become a forensic scientist working in law enforcement. Upon graduation, he applied to and was hired at the LSP Crime Lab, where he worked in the drug chemistry unit.
“I had wanted to go into other aspects of forensics, but as I worked in the drug chemistry department, I understood how it was something that could take me anywhere I wanted to go, I began to appreciate more what I was doing,” he said.
Green then moved to work with the St. Tammany Parish Crime Lab in 2003, before later joining the U.S. Navy in 2008. Soon after he earned his Navy commission, however, Green received an offer to teach forensic chemistry in Baghdad, Iraq. He accepted and moved overseas for an 18-month teaching position to train Iraqi police to handle all aspects of forensics – documentation, drug chemistry, firearms examinations, explosives examinations, DNA study and more.
“It was a very rich experience where I learned a lot of personal and professional life lessons,” Green said of his time in Baghdad. “The infrastructure there is not like it is here. Things like electricity aren’t always easy to come by, so we had to get creative with how we did things.”
That creativity also came into focus in terms of supplied used to conduct forensic investigations there, Green said.
“They did not have access to the equipment and supplied we’re used to having so readily available here in the U.S.,” he said. “For instance, they were using soot from a refinery as fingerprint powder. We were there to give the Iraqi people a way to use evidence in their criminal justice system, instead of relying so heavily on confession-based criminal justice.”
Green said he feels working through the conditions he encountered in Baghdad helped prepare him for a leadership role in forensic sciences upon his return to the U.S.
“When you’re in that kind of environment, it’s very stressful not just because you’re hearing the bombs and gunfire and dealing with logistical struggles, but that you’re so involved in it,” he said. “When I came home, I thought to myself, ‘I should have done this.’ I wanted to get back in there and make a difference again. That was when I realized that I wanted to be in a leadership position in forensics.”
Returning in the U.S., Green took a position in scientific instrumentation sales before again relocating overseas to teach forensics in Armenia. During this time, he was contacted by a friend about the open crime lab director position with the NOPD, to which he applied and was eventually selected.
Goals for the future
Both Green and Albert said that they have specific goals for the NOPD Crime Lab – to gain further accreditation for additional units with the lab, to continue to obtain state-of-the-art equipment and education for Crime Lab technicians and to advance plans for a new Crime Lab building.
“Our goal is always to find the facts,” Albert said. “A lot of times, we do that through examination of scientific evidence. Accreditation tells us that we’re getting it right 100 percent of the time. Right now, two of our four sections are accredited – firearms and advanced crime scene. This summer, we’re working to achieve accreditation for our drug chemistry section. Trey’s experience in that regard and his leadership are going to be paramount in our work to earn that accreditation. We’ve been doing a great job, but that accreditation is another way to show everyone that we mean business.”
Both Albert and Green also cited the department’s purchases of equipment to keep the Crime Lab working with the latest forensic technology.
“This administration has been outstanding in making sure we have the best available technology we can have to do our jobs well,” Albert said. “Forensics is always evolving, so you have to stay ahead of the curve.”
To also keep the Crime Lab operations current, Albert added that Green’s networking experience also helps in finding continuing educational opportunities for technicians.
“We recently a conference here in New Orleans for crime labs,” Albert said. “In attending that conference, I learned that almost everyone there knew Trey or had heard of him. His networking will be crucial in finding new training and methodology that makes our technicians even better which, in turn, makes us even better. He’s been a great advocate for training, searching out schools across the country that will host us.”
The department is also working to obtain funding for a new Crime Lab building that would house all current departments – crime scene investigators, ballistics testing, advanced crime lab, photo lab and drug chemistry. The new facility would also house DNA examination, which is currently done through the State Police Crime Lab. The department currently rents space in the University of New Orleans Research and Technology Park to house the Crime Lab.
With these goals in mind, Green said he feels the NOPD Crime Lab is in the perfect position to build upon it successes to reach even higher achievements.
“With these tools and continued education for our outstanding technicians, my goal is to see this Crime Lab continue to be a pillar of excellence within this department and to continue to serve the people of the City of New Orleans in helping to solve criminal cases through the science of forensic investigation,” he said.