By Alaynah Luttrull
STUTTGART | March 7, 2017
CSI. NCIS. Bones. Many people are familiar with these television shows but do not understand the science used by the crime fighting main characters. From February 27 to March 4, known as Dead Week – the break between winter and spring sports seasons (also a fitting week considering the focus of the class) – a select group of students had the opportunity to learn about forensic science and how it is used judicially. Unfortunately, catching the ‘bad guy’ is not as easy as Hollywood makes it seem. Luckily, the Criminal Investigation Command (CID) here in Stuttgart could spare an agent to come and teach a class on his profession. Students have stayed after school every day all week to learn about crime scenes, photographing evidence, and the importance of light, trace evidence, blood patterns, and forensic entomology.
Forensic science is important in the judicial and crime-fighting world because it helps investigators better understand the physical evidence that they discover and use the small, minute details to ultimately catch the bad guys. The representative who came to teach the class is a special agent with the CID and has been trained as a forensic science technician, meaning he has had training in many forensic disciplines. He generously shared the knowledge that his training has given him to the students who have joined him in Mrs. Stephanie Payne’s classroom this week. Not only have students learned about the misconception many jurors have of the forensic field due to the CSI Effect – which refers to the idea that real-world forensics happen the same as they appear to on television – students have also learned how to photograph evidence properly, how to use light to investigative advantage, and how trace evidence, blood patterns, and insects are used to solve a case.
“This is a community outreach for [the CID office],” comments the agent, “we wanted to try to elicit some interest in the forensic field and give students an understanding of how this science applies to law enforcement.” This application became increasingly clear to students as they studied the pragmatic application of many of these newfound skills. The most prominent of which, many students claim, is the ability to look at the minute details and put together the puzzle of a crime scene. “I’ve learned to view things differently and pay more attention,” says student Autumn Reid (SHS’18).
Students’ fresh-learned skills were put to the test on Friday afternoon during their final exercise, a ‘practical.’ In this practical, members of the CID office simulated a murder case and students tried to solve who committed the crime. Students were given a case file and spent time looking at the murder scene with their team, searching for evidence and clues that allowed them to piece together what had happened. After observing the scene, the teams moved through stations manned by agents of the CID, where they used multiple methods of examination – from fingerprinting to UV light – to understand the physical evidence they had collected. While not all the teams were able to come to the correct conclusion about the case, having the opportunity to put all the information they had learned about over the last week to use in a “real-life” incident was an amazing experience.
Forensic Science Week was a fantastic success. “My favorite part was learning about all the different aspects of forensic science, and how [the CID agent] took stereotypes and showed us the reality,” recounts Clare Walls (SHS’18), “I 100% had fun!”
Note: The CID agents requested anonymity due to the sensitive nature of their work, therefore they remained unnamed in the article.