Alumna Flourishes as Forensics Supplier

Need some impression wax to capture footprints in the snow? Or perhaps some fingerprint lifting tape or protective gear? Or maybe a blood splatter documentation kit or a gunshot residue collection kit?

Roberta Grode Berkowitz ’84 has got you covered.

Photo of Berkowitz

Roberta Grode Berkowitz ’84

As president of Prendo Forensics, Berkowitz provides a one-stop shop to meet the forensics and digital-related supply and equipment needs of law enforcement agencies across the country, interfacing with everyone from purchasing clerks to homicide investigators and police chiefs to academic professors. She also supplies customized kits and life-size training mannequins, and sets up interactive mock crime scenes for forensics and criminal justice programs at colleges, secondary schools and specialty institutes.

“Unfortunately, crime will always exist, so the need for these products isn’t going away,” said Berkowitz, a member of many law enforcement associations and the College Criminal Justice Advisory Board. “I am constantly researching the emerging products to share with law enforcement to keep them safe and assist them in solving crimes.”

For example, Berkowitz said the recent opioid and fentanyl epidemics have created an immediate need for more and better filtration products and protective gear for law enforcement, who risk overdose by inadvertently touching or breathing in the drugs when responding to calls.

Through her research on products and attendance at numerous trade shows, she connects law enforcement departments to new tools—such as DNA-free crime scene supplies and personal hazmat kits with gloves, masks, overalls and a portable glove box to test substances so law enforcement won’t be exposed to the fumes or powders.

Her work draws heavily on strong interpersonal communication, research and relationship-building—skills she said she developed through her communications coursework at SUNY Oswego and her work in the admissions and alumni offices.

Berkowitz is a 2018 Enterprising Women of the Year Champions Honoree, 2009 Albany-Colonie (N.Y.) Regional Chamber of Commerce Women of Excellence award recipient, 2001 Business Review’s 40 Under Forty Business Achievement Recipient and a certifying partner of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council.

“My livelihood depends on my communications and my ability to read my customers,” she said. “You have to be a certain kind of person to do cold calls, and I make 20 to 30 cold calls a day. Then once you have a customer, you need to build a strong relationship with them.”

And she knows a little something about maintaining relationships. She initially set her sights on the “cute guy in the red hat from chemistry class” who she saw again on the Hart Hall elevator and discovered he lived directly above her room on the ninth floor.

She and the red-hatted man, Ned Berkowitz ’85, have two children and are celebrating their 30th anniversary this year.

—Margaret Spillett

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