Radford University students train on crime scene investigations

RADFORD, Va. (WDBJ7) At Radford University, the same practices used to analyze the crime scene in New York terrorist attack were being done by students training for a similar situation.

Criminal Justice Professor and former police officer Tod Burke set up a scene with a victim and clues all around a classroom. And while the destruction wasn't anywhere near what happened in New York, Burke said, in execution, the investigation is the same.

"If you look at what's going on in New York right now, you have a crime scene, our students here have a crime scene," Burke said. "The difference might be the location but everything else, they still have to follow procedures. It's not always easy, especially if a crime scene has been compromised."

In New York, it was the public on the scene risking compromising the investigation. In Radford, it was first arriving police and the media, which were in the classroom before the students arrived.

The first student into the scene instructed, "For the purposes of this crime scene, could you delegate back here?"

The students were shocked to think their work was the same as that of people investigating terrorism.

Radford Senior Adam Sinnott said, "It's very surreal to know that professionals are doing this and doing what we are doing. It's the exact same steps, exact same processes. It's just surreal, it's indescribable."

And it was a successful training, as they learned something important about crime scene investigation.

Junior Brianna Painter said, "It's easier on paper than it is actually doing. So there was a lot more steps and a lot more security and just trying to get everything written down."

Fellow Junior Elena Mann added, "I thought it would be in and out, taking the measurements and drawing the sketch, but it took us maybe 30 minutes just to get all the measurements."

That's what Burke wants them to know. That crimes are not solved in sixty minutes, including commercials.

"It's not what they see on TV," he explained. "The crime scenes are very complicated. Do the best you can, get it right, because you may not have an opportunity to do so later on."

To further drive that point home, the exercise lasted almost two hours and the class didn't know how the victim died. Burke said that will be worked on in a future class.

But it was the experience that he wanted them to get dealing with collecting evidence and properly securing it, just like investigators in New York did.

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