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JBLM CID agent named Forensic Science Special Agent of the Year

Special Agent Johnny Victory, at the Criminal Investigation Division’s Western Field Office at JBLM, demonstrates how evidence is collected from a source before it is sent to labs for further testing. Photo credit: Pamela Sleezer, JBLM Public Affairs

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JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD - Department of the Army Criminal Investigation Division Special Agent Johnny Victory leads the charge every day in keeping the CID Western Field Office at Joint Base Lewis-McChord at the forefront of the latest developments in forensic science.

Understanding forensic science is a specialty Victory has devoted most of his investigation career to. It has become his passion, and it is how he believes he can make a significant impact within the CID community. Under Victory's guidance, JBLM's office is the very first to develop a Forensic Response Team, a three-person team of specially trained agents whose sole focus is collecting and processing evidence to support the case agents within their office.

"There are many benefits to having the team, the top benefit being time management," Victory said. "Processing a crime scene takes time. By having a team devoted to that, it takes that load off the case agents so that they can spend their time processing leads and interviewing suspects."

Special Agent-in-Charge of the JBLM office, Michele Starostka praised Victory's enthusiasm and dedication in developing the FRT and said the specialized team has contributed to a more thorough and completed investigative product.

"The Forensic Response Team under Special Agent Victory has enabled our office to be more proficient and accountable for each facet of an investigation," Starostka said. "The Forensic Response Team has been a force multiplier for how our agents and teams respond to duty calls or incidents and teamwork for a more thorough investigative product."

Victory's trailblazing effort and the success of his office's FRT is already getting the attention of other installations in the Army. This past year, Fort Liberty, North Carolina and Fort Cavazos, Texas are following suit and have created their own forensic teams modeling the JBLM plan.

"It's a great feeling for others to see the value in this model," Victory said. "For me, this is the goal. If every single field office could have this Forensic Response Team model, I feel like that would be a good impact to the forensic community."

The expertise Victory brings to the CID forensics world and his passion to create new pathways in how investigations are managed is one of many distinctions that recently earned him the award for CID's Forensic Science Special Agent of the Year.

"I really had no idea I was even nominated until I was selected," Victory said. "Nominations are kept private, so I'm not even sure who it was that nominated me. I'm just truly honored to have been suggested at all."

The prestigious award is a bright career highlight in Victory's 12-year career in the Army. He joined the military in 2011 as a military police officer following in the footsteps of his father, retired Master Sgt. Johnny A. Victory.

Enlisting with a four-year degree, Victory had plans to one day commission as a military officer, but those plans changed after one fateful day in 2014 when he had to provide support at a crime scene.

"That situation gave me my first glimpse of a death scene," Victory said. "In that moment, I saw the crime scene and I got to speak with CID agents, and I got this understanding of what CID is all about. I instantly knew that was something I wanted to do with my career."

Victory set his plan into motion and one year later he arrived at Fort Cavazos a newly trained CID agent.

During his time at Cavazos, Victory processed numerous crime scenes while simultaneously conducting the investigations.

"That's where I really gained expertise," Victory said. "And I realized that I love to do this type of work."

Two years later, he received orders to Fort Carson where he served as a supervisory special agent providing oversight on general crimes, special victim crimes and narcotics crimes investigations.

While at Carson, Victory was accepted into a one-year master's degree program at the George Mason University in Virginia where he learned about the foundation of forensic science, its applications and latest breakthroughs and the limitations of forensics.

"Learning about the limitations was one of the most valuable portions of it," Victory said. "It taught us that it's not always about what can be collected, but what is worth collecting and if it is truly useful."

These days, Victory remains as passionate as ever about sharing his knowledge with others within CID and others.

He offers monthly training sessions to Military Police Investigators who investigate misdemeanor level offenses. He also provides briefings to prosecutors and defense attorneys.

"It's really about increasing knowledge and awareness about forensics," Victory said. "With the litigators, I have actually seen them change or rephrase what they request from investigations because they have a better understanding of the science behind it and how it all pertains to the investigation."

Winning the Forensic Science Special Agent of the Year award gives Victory a spotlight of sorts in the CID community, and Victory said he hopes to use that as a platform to encourage others to share forensic education.

"Education is a really important thing to me," Victory said. "I believe in educating myself as much as possible, and I believe sharing that education with others can benefit all investigations even if they are not necessarily CID investigations."

Of course, Victory can't help but acknowledge the implied success his name carries.

"Oh, I get jokes all the time," he said with a chuckle. "I just laugh about it now and joke right back that I'm happy to leverage the unfair advantage my name gives me on paper."

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