Crime Scene Investigators
By Kathleen Goddeyne
While some teenagers were sleeping the morning away last week, a group of 14 13-15 year olds were busy at the Fruita Police Department Junior Citizen Police Academy. The free classes were held at the Fruita Police Department on West McCune Avenue from 9 to 11 a.m., Monday through Friday.
Officer Nick Peck was in charge of organizing and conducting the academy camp. Each day, the students covered two topics with lecture and hands on activities. The goal of the academy is to provide students with an understanding of the role of the police department and the greater partnership between department and community.
Over the week, students studied how to become a police officer with emphasis in gang crime, canine unit, drug awareness, DUI enforcement, crime scene investigation and a general overview of police work.
A different speaker worked with the kids each day.
“I tried to ask people that are passionate about this job or people that have an area of expertise to talk to the kids,” said Peck.
During classes, instructors are sure to cover all the details of the topic. The class practiced a mock DUI stop from beginning to end. When studying crime scene investigation, students documented each detail.
Using a digital camera, students were instructed to take plenty of pictures covering the entire crime scene. Peck also emphasized the importance of labeling and sealing each piece of evidence, but only after the scene had been thoroughly photographed.
Officer Les Guttmann took the time to teach the students how to dust for fingerprints, another important part of investigating a crime scene. He explained the importance of using very little powder to the junior officers. If too much powder is applied, the print may be lost, which could be detrimental to a case. The technique behind dusting for fingerprints is precise.
“It was important for the kids to be a little older so that they could understand the complexity of this job,” said Peck.
The program could translate into something for adults, but for now, it is only offered to teenagers.
Fruita Monument High School sophomores and sisters Cassie and Courtney Cross both attended the academy camp over the week.
“I thought it [the camp] would be really fun. Being a detective looks interesting,” said Cassie.
The junior officers had their graduation Friday, June 23 at the Fruita Community Center. These officers will be invited back for a monthly alumni meeting to continue their education and experience with the Fruita Police Department.