By Mr. Derek Gean (Leonard Wood)May 5, 2016
FORT LEONARDWOOD, Mo. -- What looked as if it could have been the scenes of multiple violent crimes turned out to be a unique training opportunity for a group of 60 Waynesville High School students.
Students could be seen photographing blood splatters, exploring shallow graves and casting shoe impressions -- just a few of the activities available at mock crime scenes set up by instructors at the U.S. Army Military Police School. The team of Army forensics experts hosted two separate WHS forensics classes for field trips, Monday and Tuesday at the Timmerberg Building.
According to Chief Warrant Officer 4 Duane Mitchell, division chief for Military Police Investigations, the students took part in identical programs each day, receiving training in the various disciplines of forensics. They learned how to apply forensic techniques in a laboratory environment and then applied the methods while processing different mock crime scenes, Mitchell said.
"We hope to broaden the student's knowledge in crime scene processing," Mitchell said.
"They should be able to grasp that what happens in real life, isn't the same as portrayed on television shows such as CSI. Often times you get only one chance at collection, so you have to make sure you have the right equipment and the talent to properly collect," he said.
The students started their day with a safety briefing then rotated through the different scenarios.
Kymberly Rodriguez, WHS forensics teacher, said the class is a semester-long introductory course in the basic concepts for forensic science. She said the field trip served as a "great" opportunity for students to get hands-on experience implementing some of the concepts they studied during the semester.
"My hope is that my students find value and relevance in what they study … and reflect on what actually happens within the real world," Rodriguez said.
The students, many of whom are interested in careers in forensic sciences, welcomed the opportunity.
"This is going to expand my knowledge of forensic science," said Kaitlyn Kucera, a WHS junior. "I like learning about how you investigate the crime scenes."
It was the variety of available training experiences that interested senior Jackson Tetreault. "I am excited about the different stations we are going through," Tetreault said. "We are learning different methods of evidence collection -- some unique," he said.
Sophomore Kirkland Vereen agreed. He said the field trip has helped increase his understanding.
"I'm particularly interested in ballistics," he said.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Justin Cullen, course manager/instructor for the CID Warrant Officer Basic Course, organized training for the day. He said the trip gave the schoolhouse a chance to invest in the community and the future of the Army.
"Through training like this, the community can see how highly-trained Army CID special agents and military police investigators are in the field of forensic science," Cullen said.
"We hope (the students) walk away from this experience with a greater understanding of criminalistics (advanced crime scene processing) and an appreciation for those who work in the investigative profession."
Cullen said taking part in this type training will aid them in their future career aspirations by showing them the realities of crime scene processing and being a forensic scientist.
"It is great opportunity for (the United States Army Military Police School) to work with the leaders of tomorrow, and hopefully set the students path onto a new career," he said.
Rodriguez said she believes the trip made an impact on the lives of her students.
"I am truly thankful to the staff at the Timmerberg (building) for extending such a wonderful learning experience to WHS students," she said.