Friday, October 30, 2015

Students in Intro to Criminal Investigation Process Mock Crime Scene

Students in the introductory Criminal Investigation course had the opportunity to process a mock crime scene earlier this semester. This has both academic and practical applications.
 
Students examine the crime scene and take notes.
Left to Right: George Crone, Mohamed Alhashmi, and Auston Smith

Academically, students applied the concepts of inductive and deductive reasoning.  And, like in any investigation (academic or otherwise) an investigator must be able to reason properly and spot common fallacies in reasoning so that they do not make mistakes that lead them to the wrong conclusions.  While the investigation is not yet complete, students will later interview witnesses and interrogate suspects, processes during which they must continue to apply the principles of logic with lengthening fact patterns. 

Mohamed and George take photos and measurements
while Auston takes notes to use in preparing their reports.

Practically, students learned that it is necessary to thoroughly document crime scenes in order to aid in the investigation of the crime.  This documentation can also serve as the basis for formal reports that can be used in court if a case goes to trial.

George and Auston take measurements to prepare for
the sketches they will create later on.

To document the crime scene, students noted what they observed about the scene and took photos and measurements.  Students then created a to-scale sketch of the crime scene using those notes, photos and measurements.  The students were also able to utilize best practices, such as exercising caution when moving within the crime scene to prevent contamination of evidence and taking photos first to act as a reference in case evidence is unintentionally disturbed.

The group discusses their findings after they process the scene.

This project afforded students a glimpse of what it takes to investigate a crime.  "The crime scene project...gave me an overall picture of the procedures of processing a crime scene," said Mohamed, a criminal justice major who plans to go to graduate school to study digital forensics.  "...when I first arrived, I wasn't sure where to start, but I remembered what we had learned in class and started to apply it.  [It] was a really nice activity." 

Melissa Smith, a senior psychology and criminal justice double major who also had the opportunity to process the crime scene, was most surprised by the level of detail.  "It was cool to see what it's like, but it was harder...more challenging than I thought it would be," said Melissa. 

Check back later this semester for updates on the case as students continue their investigation of the crime by interviewing witnesses and interrogating suspects.

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