North Texas Daily

Students get hands-on with ‘Crime Scene City’

Students get hands-on with ‘Crime Scene City’

November 04
23:36 2009

By Melissa Boughton / Senior Staff Writer –

Students in the criminalistics program are getting a dose of reality this semester with the opening of “Crime Scene City.”

The university has provided two buildings adjacent to the UNT Library Annex for the criminalistics program to set up crime scenes for investigational use by students.

“While we’ve done crime scene scenarios over the last six to eight years, it’s always been a situation where we would have to set them up, take them back down, and it just didn’t work out very well at all,” said Edward Hueske, of the criminal justice department.

A new crime scene investigations class uses the scientific method at crime scenes and has a need for a more permanent set-up, Hueske said.

“It just absolutely was necessary to have the space to be able to lay out these scenarios and keep them set-up for weeks, if not months,” he said.

Hueske made a request to the university for the space and was granted two buildings and the outdoor area on Precision Drive to set up the crime scenes.

Students used the space for the third time on Tuesday as they investigated tire tracks and practiced lifting footprints from various surfaces with electronic devices.

“You can sit in class all day and try to learn something, but until you actually, physically go out in the field, do it with the surroundings and conditions, you’re not really going to learn,” said Heather Chamberlin, a photography senior.

Chamberlin, who is also pursuing a forensics certificate, said the crime scenes are a lot different than what students see on television shows such as CSI.

“This gives them something that television doesn’t, and that is the sweat and hard work that’s involved, because by the end of the day, this is just like working in a big-city crime scene unit and having to go from crime to crime,” Hueske said. “It’s hard work and it’s tedious, and it’s not quite as romantic as they portray it to say the least.”

As a result of the many television shows, jobs in criminal investigations have been on the rise.

The criminalistics program recently acquired two new buildings and some outdoor space to set up crime scenes for student’s investigations. Photo by Melissa Boughton/Photographer.

The criminalistics program recently acquired two new buildings and some outdoor space to set up crime scenes for student’s investigations. Photo by Melissa Boughton/Photographer.

Hueske said that an opening in a crime scene unit in Reno, Nev., received more than 1200 applicants.

“So, we try to give the students a realistic idea of what’s really involved and give them a good dose of reality in the face of all the entertainment aspects that are out there,” he said.

At the beginning of the semester, Hueske said he could only do demonstrations with the materials students are now using in the crime scene investigations.

“We were doing things in labs, but again, it was just through textbooks and different controlled areas, and so we get more flexibility when we can come out here and set things up on our own and work more with our groups and classmates,” said Stormie Cooley, criminal justice senior.

Hueske said he hopes to eventually acquire more buildings and create a crime scene village.
The new crime-scene city will also help students prepare for an annual crime scene competition at the University of Texas at Arlington, he said.

“My students have won first place and second place two years running in that and so we intend to do even better because we are going for a clean sweep,” Hueske said.

The next competition will take place in May. Until then students have a final project to look forward to in December.

“At the conclusion of the semester, I let the students create the crime scenes,” Hueske said.

The students will break into groups, create a crime scene and then work another crime scene created by a different group.

“It is a lot better than sitting in a classroom,” said Crystal Nelson, a sociology senior.

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