Magazine article Techniques

Beyond Scooby Doo

Magazine article Techniques

Beyond Scooby Doo

Article excerpt

Most of your students may still remember the crack team of teen investigators on the animated TV show "Scooby Doo." Those cartoon characters foiled the criminals' plans time and again by using their investigative smarts. "I would have gotten away with it if it hadn't been for you meddling kids," the villains would say at the close of each episode.

But in real life solving a crime takes more than just intuition. Twelve high school students in Honolulu, Hawaii, will tell you it's a scientific process that can be quite sobering.

This summer the Honolulu Police Department sponsored an evidence specialist class for high school students throughout the state. Of the 51 students who applied, 12 made the cut based on grades, extracurricular activities, recommendations, an application essay and their interest in science. Joan Furuya, an evidence specialist with the Honolulu Police Department, says the class is a way to introduce young people to investigative police work.

"The public doesn't know us too well, but we are the backbone of proving the case," says evidence specialist Marcus Chong. Chong, Furuya and several other evidence specialists comprised the team of instructors that gave students an 11-day crash course in gathering, preserving and testing evidence from crime scenes.

No place for queasiness

To get a real feel for the job, students learn in the context of a mock crime scene. In one example, a dummy murder victim is lying on the floor. "Blood" pools around the mannequin and stains the walls.

"One thing you learn is that you need a strong stomach," a student says.

The clues students gather under the supervision of their instructors are based on actual cases that were solved by the police department. Students wear plastic gloves, learn to gather clues properly in evidence bags, write up evidence identification cards and compile notes from the crime scene. …

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