Police get week of CSI training

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SOUTH JORDAN -- There are a number of TV dramas every week showing law enforcement investigators working at a crime scene. By the end of the program, the mystery is solved and the bad guys are locked up. Obviously, though, real life investigations certainly take longer than an hour to solve.

Several times a year, instructors with the National Forensic Academy, based at the University of Tennessee, conduct week-long courses showing CSI members the latest techniques in everything from how to photograph a scene to how to read blood patterns.

Instructors travel the country conducting these courses; they try to make these mock crime scenes as realistic as possible. This week's course held in South Jordan was about the blood. Keep in mind as you view this story, the blood is sheep's blood, not human!

Inside the old South Jordan Elementary school gym and cafeteria area, there was plenty of crime scene tape. There was a baseball bat on the floor and a nearby handgun. Blood was spattered on the walls and doors. In the kitchen area could be found a couple of soda cans and more blood.

In all, there were five mock crimes scene set up, and these investigators were there, looking at every minute detail to figure out what happened.

Nathan Lefebvre, with the National Forensic Academy, said, "Everybody that we train is already employed by a law enforcement agency, and some aspect of their employment includes crime scene investigation."

A couple of dozen officers attended this week-long course. Many were from Utah; others flew in from other states. Most do crime scene investigations now, but this class helped them hone their skills and expand their knowledge.

Instructors want investigators to consider every detail at a crime scene. For instance, one instructor demonstrated how and where blood will spatter if different objects--knives, bats or hammers, for example-- are used in a crime.

Sgt. Travis Rees, with the West Jordan Police Department, said, "Yeah, a lot like the real thing. That's one of the first things I notice about the scenarios, how realistic they were, after doing this for several years."

Instructor Paulette Sutton was a CSI investigator for 30 years. She now creates the mock crime scenes. She has a simple goal for the students.

"I want them to call me in a month and say, 'You know what, I used what you taught me, and it helped me to solve a case, or pointed me in the right direction,'" she said.

Sutton said she has indeed received those phone calls from past students.

Friday is the big day for the students. They will present all their evidence to their peers and to the instructors to see if they solved the crime.

E-mail: kmccord@ksl.com


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Keith McCord


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