Earning the Badge: CSI

A team of cadets work to process evidence at a simulated crime scene at the Wright State University — Lake Campus on Monday night. Cadets were honing their investigative skills with the scene after several days of instruction.
Assistant Editor

It was a case of whodunit during Monday night’s class at the Wright State University — Lake Campus Police Academy. 

Lt. Doug Burke from the Auglaize County Sheriff’s Office and Special Agent Tyler Price from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification spent the past few days teaching the cadets how to collect and preserve evidence before being split into groups to process a simulated crime scene.

Using a mixture of fake and real, the instructors did their best to make the future officers think like investigators. Paper was laid down on the floor and pig’s blood was dripped on it to show the trail of a wounded suspect leaving the scene of a drug deal gone bad. Left on a table was a dummy that had suffered fatal gunshot wounds, including a strike to the head. 

To expose the cadets to the harsh reality of the violence they will see at a scene, Burke acquired pig brains to make the scene more like real life.

“If we expose them to it now, they can get a better idea of if they will be able to handle seeing this in real life,” he said. “The trauma that first responders have to experience is not something you’re naturally used to. It’s normal for a human being to be uncomfortable around another human being in that state but it’s something we have to work through.”

Tasked with each of the roles needed to complete work on a crime scene — recorder, photographer, measuring team — the cadets went to work trying to piece together everything from overturned chairs and scattered money to blood sampling and locating shell casings. Working together, each group was given 45 minutes to figure out what happened.

Later that night and into Tuesday’s class, the cadets got a taste of report writing as they tried to piece the scene back together in their own words.

He and Price added that a well-written report will also help the officer when it comes time for the case to go to court. They said it could be months to years later before the case goes before a judge and even though the officer has had dozens of cases since then, they need to be able to know exactly what the details of the case are.

“Crime doesn’t stop just because you get a big, high-profile case,” said Burke.

Despite all the rules, challenges and details involved in crime scene investigation, the cadets did enjoy the class.

Cadet Wyatt Schmersal said he liked the challenge of collecting evidence because there are “so many ways you can screw up if you’re not careful.”

“I like a challenge so that’s the most fun for me,” he added. “I have actually been thinking about becoming a detective or working for BCI. It's been something that's interesting to me so I might follow it up later in my career.”

While Schmersal is considering making crime scene work his specialty, Cadet Jerrod Rhodes is more focused on the broad skills he learned from Burke and Price.

“This has taught me not to go into any sort of scene with a predetermined idea of what's going on,” Rhodes said. “Until you actually get in there and start picking it apart and getting the story behind it, you need to keep an open mind as to what happened.”