By Robert P. Johnson, Fort Leonard WoodApril 4, 2012
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (April 4, 2012) -- For anyone who has watched "CSI," they know that collecting evidence at a crime scene requires accuracy, attention to detail and speed before the elements degrade the site, and now, military police personnel going through Advanced Individual Training are acquiring those same CSI skills.
"It's called Sensitive Site Exploitation, Battlefield Forensics, and this is the first OSUT (One Station Unit Training) unit to get this level of training on crime scene evidence collection," said Capt. Rachel Morgan, Company E, 701st Military Police Battalion commander. "It's initial crime scene processing, and it's skills that MPs use in garrison and on battlefields in theater."
The Soldiers' training begins in the classroom, but on March 29, the action moved to the field where a scenario allowed the students to put the training into hands-on practice.
"The situation they will find is something that any MP might encounter downrange," said 1st Sgt. Steve Rogers. "We have a location where a bomb maker has accidentally detonated explosives, and the MPs have to secure the site and collect the evidence."
Two Soldiers volunteered to be training aids for the mission. Pfc. Judith Pruett and Pvt. Annette Galvin, both Co. E, portrayed the insurgents who set off their explosives.
"We went through the training yesterday, so today we are part of the opposing force. It's really good training that allowed us to apply what we learned in the classroom and go through it in a field situation. You have to photograph everything, makes notes on what's there, fingerprint the individuals and do this all very quickly. You want to be thorough and accurate, but fast," Galvin said.
While the Soldiers in training swarmed over the room, Morgan explained how there is a push for MPs to go back to the basic skills necessary to be a police officer.
"Any one of these Soldiers could find themselves in a situation where the evidence has to be preserved … in garrison or in combat," she said. "They may be the first to go through this training, but it will be incorporated in all future cycles. In fact, these Soldiers will be the ones going to units in the near future and will have to teach their fellow MPs these very skills."
With the fingerprinting, photography and evidence secured, Staff Sgt. Jamie Picken, Co. E drill sergeant and veteran of a forensics team while deployed, walked the platoon through an After Actions Review.
"If you have a job to do inside (the site), you need to focus on your job. If your task is to fingerprint, focus on that. You'll have teammates to take care of security and other requirements," Picken told the Soldiers.
"In a building this size, a team that knows what it is doing should be in and out in five
minutes," she said. "It's important to be accurate, but it's also important to do your job quickly."
The requirement for accuracy, speed and attention to detail was not lost on the AIT students.
"Getting the right information can help us get the right individual responsible for the crime," said Pvt. Cody Adams. "It's a learning curve out here. I was on fingerprints and learned quickly just how little powder is needed to get a set of prints. It's definitely a good hands-on experience."
One of his fellow Soldiers in training agreed.
"You've got to be fast, and if you think it might be evidence, tag it, photograph it and take it to the lab. Even a fingerprint on a picture on the wall can be part of the intelligence gathered from the site," said Pfc. Nicholas Sheets, Co. E. "If we can haul it out, we will."