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Day as a Detective

Sara Majorsky, Business Manager

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Have you ever thought about what it’d be like to be a detective? Do you like solving mysteries or doing escape rooms? Do you like watching popular Crime related TV shows like; Criminal Minds, Law and Order, and Sherlock? Are you interested in Criminal Justice and Forensic Science?

If you said yes to any of these questions, the Mock Crime Scene Program at Waynesburg University might be the right thing for you.

On Saturday, November 10, Senior, Hunter Smith, and I traveled to Waynesburg University for a Mock Crime Scene Workshop. We attended out of sheer cur

iosity. Mrs. Olecki-Leeper, the Law, Global Studies, and Economics teacher gave us this opportunity. She offers this free program to her Law students every year in hopes to inspire any interest in the career field and for the great learning opportunity it provides.

Upon arrival students were put into groups of about 10-15. As the day went on, the groups attended 4 different classes; Fingerprints, Drug Analysis, Crime Scene Processing, and Firearms Identification, followed by a lunch break. All of the previous classes led up to a final Mock Crime Scene. Each group had to solve a pseudo crime scene as a team. given what was learned throughout the day.

 

Fingerprints

The first session, Fingerprints, was led by Jason Clark, a scientist and Automated Fingerprint Identification System operator within in the Allegheny Office of the Medical Examiner. He discussed all aspects of fingerprint testing relating to crime and investigation. Clark had a powerpoint presentation showing how different fingerprint types can be deciphered. Different fingerprint types include; a Plain Arch, Tented Arch, Ulnar Loop, Radial Loop, Plain Whorl, Central Pocket Loop, Double Loop Whorl, and an Accidental Whorl. He also explained how law enforcement collects fingerprints from crime scene evidence. He made this topic very interesting through his comedic personality and thorough explanations.

 

Drug Analysis

During the Drug Analysis presentation, Alyshia Myers, a forensic scientist for the PA State Police Crime Laboratory, went into detail on how drugs are collected/distinguished from crime scenes and search and seizure operations. She explained the process of identifying drugs. For example, during Chemistry tests, adding a reagent will change the color of the tested drug to match up with what drug it is. Myers talked about the procedure of testing illicit drugs, the magnitude of the Opioid Epidemic within Pennsylvania, prevention for overdoses, and the measures that forensics scientists have to take to stay safe from infection. Alyshia Myers was a very informative speaker and well accustomed to her topic.

 

Crime Scene Processing

Kasey Gizler, a Westmoreland County Crime Scene Investigator, gave insight on real life examples as a detective. From her story of working undercover to detain an anarchist group to her perspective as a woman working a job that is connoted as being just for men, she captivated the group.

 

She emphasized the importance of observation when being a criminal investigator through two small tests. For example, Gizler placed powder sugar on the floor in front of the doorway and was able to pick up our footprints without the group’s prior knowledge. In the second test, she had a Waynesburg University student sit near the front of the classroom. While we were distracted, the student left the room and partnered groups had to describe as much as they could remember about the student.

 

Senior, Hunter Smith, said “My favorite part of the workshop was learning from Kasey Gizler and learning about all of her different experiences throughout the field. As well as actually solving the mock crime scene.”

 

Firearms identification

Firearms Identification was taught by Mike Cipoletti, a Forensic Science Program Director at Waynesburg University. As a professor, he was well versed in his topic and also runs the Mock Crime Scene program every year. He gave a lecture on the differences in lethal weapons, the process of how a gun fires bullets, and the rising issue of gun violence within our country. He passed bullet casings around the room to give students a visual look at what he was speaking about. Overall, Cipoletti’s presentation was very factual and realistic.

 

Mock Crime Scene

Finally, the big event of the day, the Mock Crime Scene! As we walked into the classroom, anticipation to get started was high. The scene was on full display. With a chest of equipment, little direction, and a wealth of new knowledge, the investigation began.

 

A deceased mannequin victim was placed sitting at a school desk along with multiple pieces of evidence; bullet casings, styrofoam cups and packets of a fake illicit substance. Each person in the group had the ability to solve a different part of the scene. The bullet shells were collected and examined in order to determine the make and model of what weapon they matched up to. The styrofoam cups were tested for fingerprints by using a dark powder and piece of tape. They were then compared to a set of possible suspects. The drug packets were tested and resulted as heroin.

 

When the lead suspect was determined, an interrogation was set up with a female student who acted as the suspect. As a group, we asked questions that would prove the girl in question guilty. This part of the investigation was very crucial and fun to engage in.

Crime Scene victim surrounded by marked areas that contained evidence

Data from Mock Drug Testing

The final outcome ended with the suspect admitting guilt to homicide due to a drug deal that was not paid. Out of anger, she shot the victim and promptly left the scene.

 

I highly recommend this program for anyone interested in Criminal Justice and Forensic Science. It’s free, in close proximity, roughly 1 hour 25 minutes from Latrobe, and a 7 hour in-depth and interactive learning opportunity. Even if you aren’t interested in any of these fields, the experience is still worthwhile. The next workshop will be held this spring, 2018. The information and registration can be found on Waynesburg University’s website.

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About the Writer
Sara Majorsky, Business Manager

I’m a Latrobe High School Class of 2019 senior. The school subjects that I enjoy the most would be History, English, and Environmental Capstone. This...

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Day as a Detective