States may talk about the value of being free, but New Hampshire (NH) takes the concept seriously. The state’s official motto “Live Free or Die” echoes the words of Revolutionary War general and local hero John Stark, although it wasn’t officially adopted until the 1940s.
Of course, New Hampshire’s 1.3 million residents embrace the concept of living free; by illustration, it was the first U.S. state to create its own constitution, and there is no sales tax or income tax. There is also an abundance of wilderness, hiking trails and many uncrowded, quaint towns. Also, crime is generally low; as of 2016, the state had the third lowest violent crime rate in the country with less than 200 instances per 100,000 people, right behind neighbors Vermont and Maine. It also ranks last in murders at 1.3 per 100,000, slightly above Maine at 1.5 (Death Penalty Information Center).
Some consider the Granite State “gun-friendly” not because of its high crime, but rather because of the few restrictions on gun ownership combined with easy access to the outdoors. This means plenty of opportunities for hunting and related activities, plus a strong recreational ethic and general appreciation of firearms and firearm safety.
Even with a low crime rate, New Hampshire offers a variety of educational and career opportunities in forensics and criminology, including with New Hampshire’s Medical and Forensic Services Division, which focuses on meeting the physical and behavioral needs of people incarcerated statewide. Municipal law enforcement departments also can benefit from trained individuals in the areas of investigation and analysis.
For instance, the largest cities like Manchester and Nashua have the highest reports of violent crime in the state. Although murders are infrequent anywhere, larger cities see a traditional range of felonies such as robberies, property crime, arson, and rape, all of which require forensics services for proper evidence collection and analysis.
This guide explores forensics programs in New Hampshire, including three outstanding professors, expected coursework at different degree levels, and the outlook for careers in this field.
Part of the value of formal training in forensics is that students receive a foundation in a variety of subjects. Rather than simply drilling deep into one scientific discipline, university-level justice and forensics programs provide more breadth in inquiry, discussing topics such as sociology, philosophy, political science, and psychology. This interdisciplinary insight can make a job candidate more marketable and make it easier for them to adapt their skills into different career areas. The same is to an extent true of forensic psychology programs in New Hampshire, although curricula for those programs tends to be cover the psychological aspects of criminal behavior and forensic investigation in greater detail.
For those students who are unable to commit to a full course schedule on campus, online learning may be an option. There are online forensic science programs available in NH and beyond that can fill this need.
Forensics programs in New Hampshire are generally accredited by the regional New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), the country’s oldest accrediting association. It includes more than 2,000 public and independent schools, colleges, and universities.
Some forensics programs in the U.S. are accredited by the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC), including on-campus programs in nearby Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. As of April 2018, there were no FEPAC-accredited programs in NH. However, FEPAC has accredited very few programs overall and only awards accreditation to those programs that are focused on natural sciences such as biology and chemistry. Criminal justice and CSI programs are not elgible for FEPAC accreditation, meaning it is not required in order to ensure a strong education.
The private and public sectors in New Hampshire can benefit from people with training and credentials in forensic sciences or related subjects. Local law enforcement agencies and the state government are both good starting places. While smaller law enforcement agencies may not have the resources for full-time laboratory staff, they still may appreciate someone trained in modern investigative and evidence-gathering methods.
The New Hampshire State Police operates a certified Forensic Laboratory which analyzes evidence from 220 city, state, county, and federal law enforcement and fire agencies. The lab can process DNA, fingerprinting, ballistics, controlled substances, and other submitted evidence, all of which require specially trained forensics personnel.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, positions such as forensic technicians are going to be in demand into the future and pay relatively generous salaries (May 2017). As of 2017, there were 15,070 forensic science technicians nationwide in state and local governments, scientific research, and medical areas, who earned the following salary percentiles:
United States (15,070 forensic science techs): $61,220 average annual salary
Interestingly, there was a smaller range of salaries for forensic science technicians within NH, but they generally commanded better salaries than the national figures, boasting higher average and median salaries:
New Hampshire (40 forensic science techs): $68,990 average annual salary
Notably, the BLS (2017) reported that there would be a 17 percent increase nationally in positions for forensic science techs between 2016 and 2026, amounting to approximately 2,600 new positions. Within NH, there was an expected 26 percent increase in positions in this field.
In sum, forensic science technology represents only one career open to those with training in forensics; there is expected to be growth across other related occupations in crime scene investigation, laboratory technology, law enforcement, and other areas.
The current coordinator of the University of New Hampshire’s COLA’s justice studies program, Dr. Ellen Cohn specializes in social psychology with an emphasis on legal socialization, race, justice, and jury deliberation. Dr. Cohn is also an instructor in the school’s justice studies and psychology programs, as well as the forensics minor. Her courses include psychology of crime and justice, social psychology, and the psychology of law. She also heads the school’s Legal Socialization Lab, which researches topics such as bullying, racism in legal systems, and unwanted sexual experiences among college students.
As a senior lecturer in COLA’s justice studies and psychology programs, Dr. Robert Eckstein specializes in psychology and counseling psychology topics. He teaches several mental health courses, including personality and counseling. Dr. Eckstein also heads the school’s Innovations Research Center, which worked with the White House to explore sexual violence on college campuses, seeking to understand if prevention programs increase or decrease incidence reporting.
Dr. Jefferson Allen brings his experience in the military judicial system to his teaching, including his years supervising military police and being a military prosecutor. As a civilian, he’s also worked in law enforcement. His teaching specialties include basic criminal justice, police work, and investigations. Notably, he’s one of the school’s most popular advisors for his engaging storytelling, motivational style, and ability to strike a balance between making classes challenging and enjoyable.