Crime lab director, Wakefield resident named to R.I Criminal Justice Hall of Fame

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KINGSTON, R.I. – April, 8 2016 – From fire debris to paint chips and breathalyzer evidence to a study of baseballs, Dennis Hilliard has done just about everything a forensic scientist can do. Throughout his career and as the director of the Rhode Island State Crime Laboratory at the University of Rhode Island, Hilliard has assisted in the training of nearly 2,000 police officers in scientific investigation during the past 39 years.


Because of his service to the law enforcement and criminal justice agencies in Rhode Island, he will be inducted into the Rhode Island Criminal Justice Hall of Fame.


The induction ceremony will be held at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Warwick on Tuesday, June 14 at 6 p.m. For tickets, call Alison L’Heureux at 401-274-4400 or email ricjhof@gmail.com. Tickets are $30 each. Table sponsorships (10 guests) are also available for $300. Checks should be made payable to Rhode Island Criminal Justice Hall of Fame and sent to Rhode Island Criminal Justice Hall of Fame, PO Box 6751, Providence, RI 02940-6751.


Joining Hilliard in the hall’s Class of 2016 are: Col. Brendan Doherty, Rhode Island State Police (retired); Capt. Thomas Dolan, Johnston Police Department; the Honorable Alice Gibney, Rhode Island Superior Court presiding justice; the Honorable Joseph Rogers, Rhode Island Superior Court (retired) and Randy White, Rhode Island assistant attorney general (retired.


Hilliard has worked in the forensic science field since 1980. He was appointed acting director of the State Crime Laboratory in 1992, and was appointed director in 1995. Hilliard has also been an adjunct assistant professor of biomedical sciences in URI’s College of Pharmacy since 1994.

Hilliard was nominated for the honor by Mike Clancy of the Rhode Island State Fraternal Order of Police and retired detective from the Warren Police Department.


“I met Dennis back in the 90’s and he has always been a fantastic man, dedicated to his profession in the crime lab,” said Clancy. “He has a passion for his work in the crime lab and strives to be the best. He provides the facts and is a balanced scientist,” Clancy said.


“It is an honor to be selected to join such an elite group of people,” said Hilliard, the first forensic scientist to be elected to the Hall of Fame. He is also the first inductee from URI and the state crime lab.


“They say that when you wake up in the morning and you’re excited to go to work, it’s not considered a job; and that’s exactly how I feel,” said Hilliard. “Sometimes I can’t believe that I have been doing this job for 36 years. This job is not routine and every case is completely different. That is why I love what I do,” Hilliard said.


In addition to his work with police officers, Hilliard has been awarded numerous grants to upgrade technology in the crime lab. He has also spearheaded novel programs to combat domestic violence and train police and firefighters in a joint crime scene investigation drill at the Union Fire District’s training complex in South Kingstown.


Hilliard and two other URI professors founded the Forensic Science Partnership in 1999, one of the oldest continuously running cross-disciplinary academic partnerships at the University. The partnership has offered a spring and fall series of seminars on forensic science for 17 years, which has brought several nationally and internationally recognized forensic investigators to URI.


The forensic science partnership has led to an expansion of forensic science research at the University, including, the departments of chemistry and computer science and statistics; in the College of Arts and Sciences; the College of Engineering; and the department of textile, fashion merchandising and design.


Dominick LaFerrera, an intern in the marketing and communication department, and a communication studies major wrote this release.