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DEATH INVESTIGATION CLASS PROVIDES INSTRUCTION ON RECOVERY
The Suburban Law Enforcement Academy’s “Death Investigation 2” class provides instruction on a variety of topics related to crime scene evidence identification, collection and preservation.
It even includes a rural crime scene recreation that allows participants to use their new skills in recovering and documenting a discovered “body.” “Death Investigation 2,” recently presented at College of DuPage, is one of many courses that sworn and civilian law enforcement personnel can take through SLEA’s Continuing Education program, which will offer courses in COD’s new Homeland Security Education Center, scheduled to open in 2011. In addition to SLEA, the College’s Criminal Justice and Fire Science programs will be housed in the new center.
“The new center will enhance the education we deliver,” said Jim Kempinski, SLEA Continuing Education program manager. “A class like ‘Death Investigation 2’ still requires fieldwork, but the new lab and classroom space alone will provide a better learning experience for our students.”
John Larsen, president of Larsen Forensics, Inc., teaches both “Death Investigation 1” and “Death Investigation 2,” the latter a 40-hour advanced class that is modeled after a similar program offered by the FBI.
“It’s targeted at medical examiners, coroner’s office employees and crime investigators,” said Larsen, a retired FBI agent. “It gives them a controlled environment in which to work off of previously living things, see the biology of the scene and then interact with it.”
During the recent “Death Investigation 2” class, students spent several days in the classroom, listening to renowned experts on such topics as entomology and forensic odontology. For the simulation, four pigs were buried at a rural site in Kendall County, and students found, documented and articulated their discoveries. Larsen said a pig is used because it decomposes at the same rate as a human body.
“In this environment, you learn protocols and then follow them to see if they work,” Larsen said. “You end up with an investigator who will go to a real scene and won’t lose evidence, will know what comes first and can coordinate with others on the scene. Everything needs to be done in a way so people can understand their reports. They can then testify to a grand jury in a way that’s meaningful.”
Tom Hoskinson, who has worked in forensics with the Mount Prospect Police Department for seven years, was impressed with the quality of the instruction.
“One session was about how a dentist studies teeth. This can help me with everything from live victims’ teeth marks to murder, from child abuse up to homicide,” he said. “In another session, we looked at the life cycle of certain bugs at a crime scene in order to place the approximate time of death. It’s the best class I’ve been to in 12 years.”
For more information on SLEA, call (630) 942-2677.
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