Following the fingerprints to Blair

March 28, 2022, 9:41 p.m. | By Isabelle Yang | 2 years, 2 months ago

Ms. Walsh's journey from former forensic technician to security

Speeding through the streets of the D.C. metropolitan area in her cruiser, Maureen Walsh could already picture the crime scene. Based on the location of the homicide, she could determine the most probable cause of death without even arriving at the crime scene. Once she arrives, however, it's a totally different matter - she's meticulously combing through the crime scene, evidence bag in hand, collecting evidence with blood splatters, shell casing or fingerprints, that can be used to identify the suspect. 

More than 15 years ago, before she came to work at Blair, Walsh was a forensic technician, a combination of processing crime scenes, puzzle-solving and attending trials. With up to 18 hour workdays and up-close encounters with death, the profession is taxing and demanding. Nonetheless, Walsh loved her job and the rewarding feeling of bringing justice. "You like to think that you saw part of the puzzle and that you cared about that person's loved one, … that's what drives you to work: to bring justice to another person," Walsh says.

Walsh first joined the police department as a patrol officer, one of only a few women in the division at the time. Before, there existed a height requirement of five foot seven to be a police officer. However, once the requirement was lowered, Walsh took the initiative to join the police force. Going through all the school and training needed, she learned how to drive insanely fast, use firearms and more -- skills that have an impact in life-or-death situations.

After serving as a patrol officer for 10 years, her background in nursing and photography facilitated her seamless transition to a forensic technician. When she worked in the medical examiner's office, her knowledge came in handy. "[They] loved me because they didn't have to tell me that a patella is a kneecap. I knew what I had to do and I just slid in and did it," Walsh says. There, she helped to solve countless crimes, including a murder case in 1983 (District Man Sentenced to 40 Years to Life for Felony Murder Arising Out of a Burglary and Rape in 1983).

A life-long aspirant towards learning, Walsh took whatever opportunities she could to become a master of her craft. Not only learning all she needed to be a forensic technician, she also attended all the training for detectives. This additional training has also allowed her to better understand the roles of the different members of the team. "I've been to every school that [detectives] go to thinking that, in terms of doing jobs for people as a team, it's always better that you know what their job is and what they have to do," Walsh says.

Though the profession allowed her to witness the worst side of humans and the greatest atrocities they could commit, it also allowed her to appreciate life in a different light. "It translated into an appreciation for life because I know how quickly [it] can end for somebody, just how it does out of the blue," Walsh says.

After her retirement from the police force, Walsh came to Blair as a Security Assistant, where she has been part of the Blair community for 15 years. She first became involved in the Blair community as the parent of a Blazer.

A staff portrait of Walsh as part of Blair security. (Courtesy of Maureen Walsh)

When her son attended Blair, forensics teacher Megan Hart invited Walsh to give guest lectures to the students in Hart's classes. Walsh both described her job and provided insight and information about certain cases that she worked on -- once, she came with a detective to talk about a case involving a serial murderer in D.C. Her positive experiences with Blazers in the classroom ultimately led her to work at Blair.

At Blair, Walsh has gained an opportunity to work with young people in a much more positive environment than before, witnessing growth and change. "I love working with kids because before, as a forensic technician, the only time you're coming in contact with young people is either [I] have a body that I'm dealing with [to] collect evidence from, or I'm in court watching some young person go to prison for the next 30 years," Walsh says.

As part of the security team, she mostly comes into contact with students with behavioral issues, who might have a lot of stress or problems going on outside of school. However, these are also the kids who can grow the most when they have a mentor to guide them.

With her unique background as a forensic technician, Walsh has a myriad of stories to draw from to tell the students. Whether it be the hard work and dedication needed to succeed, or the immediate consequences of rash actions, Walsh can turn them all into lessons to pass on to students. 

Walsh stresses the importance of thinking about the long-term consequences of one's actions to her students. "You're only working with a piece of the potential that you have, since [there are] another 10 years before [the brain] is finished [developing]. It's so exciting, but it can get kids in trouble too because when they don't have good control over their emotions, they're out here doing stuff that within one birthday [can] end in life sentences," Walsh says.

Most of all, Walsh wants to see the Blazers grow and thrive. "We want to see our kids do well," Walsh says.

Last updated: March 28, 2022, 9:49 p.m.

Tags: security Walsh Blair staff

Isabelle Yang. Hi! I'm Isabelle (she/her). Outside of SCO, I love to listen to music, hike and solve puzzles. More »

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