Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Training Technique Crime Scene Scenario Site of Police Seminar

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Training Technique Crime Scene Scenario Site of Police Seminar

Article excerpt

JEKYLL ISLAND -- Police officers worked in the woods

yesterday gathering artificial evidence at a fake crime scene.

First, they found evidence scattered in and around a plastic

skeleton lying in the leaves and then crossed a trail to

excavate another that was buried earlier.

The officers are on Jekyll Island this week for the 27th

annual educational seminar of the Georgia State Division of the

International Association for Identification. The association's

members are detectives, crime scene technicians and laboratory

specialists who gather and test evidence used in solving crimes

and criminal convictions.

Although the training scenarios are simulated events, some

parts -- such as the dirt, steamy heat and swarming mosquitoes

-- are too real.

"You can't beat the old-fashioned way," said Lowell McNeal,

the Gainesville, Ga., police detective who is president of the

organization. "Patience, lifting prints, getting on your hands

and knees. It takes getting your nose to the ground."

There was plenty of opportunity for that at the two

make-believe crime scenes set up by Karen Cooper, a crime lab

analyst supervisor with the Florida Department of Law

Enforcement's Fort Myers office.

Along with the plastic skeletons, Cooper had placed a

handgun, a spent shell casing, a slug, some identification and

other evidence among the leaves that had accumulated over

several years. A group of seven officers marked off an area,

removed debris, sifted it all through screens, took

measurements, made photographs and notes and treated it like a

real crime scene.

"You've got to do this to get into court with it," McNeal

said after the officers, who included detectives and crime scene

and lab technicians, found the evidence Cooper had concealed.

It also is important to gather anything from the body that

would help identify the victim, Cooper said.

"A lot of times in these cases, we don't know the victim,"

she said. …

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