- Associated Press - Sunday, July 5, 2015

WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) - As Maui Police Department evidence specialist Anthony Earles poured a forensic casting mixture into a shoe print in the dirt, he stressed the importance of starting his work outside to preserve evidence at some crime scenes.

“Remember, footwear impressions, tire impressions, they’re transient types of impressions,” Earles told high school students participating in the weeklong CSI Camp at the MPD Forensic Facility. “I want to do it as quick as I can. If I have a body in the house, I’m not going to worry about the body first.”

“I want to make sure I capture that first — everything that could blow away or get knocked out by something.”

After watching Earles demonstrate the technique Wednesday, the students got a chance to do footwear casting on their own, using a spoon to smooth out the poured mixture and to leave their initials in the castings that would be retrieved once set, The Maui News reported (http://bit.ly/1eY2Hyj).

“It’s pretty cool how he’s making this kind of like a real-life situation, how we have to cast footprints and dust for fingerprints,” said 16-year-old Kaitlyn Castillo, who will be a senior at Kamehameha Schools Maui.

To create the camp, now in its fourth year, Earles combined hands-on experiences, like the footwear casting and bloodstain pattern analysis, with lectures by 19 guest instructors from agencies like the FBI, MPD, Honolulu Police Department, Maui County prosecutor’s office and the University of Hawaii Maui College administration of justice program. The students also toured the Wailuku Police Station and MPD morgue.

“We try to put the whole puzzle together, including educational opportunities here on Maui,” said Earles, who is camp coordinator.

The 12 high school students were selected for the weeklong camp that began Monday after submitting an application, essay and letter of reference from a teacher or counselor, then going through a 15-minute interview. “Just like after they graduate from high school, everything they do now is competition,” Earles said.

Along with students from Baldwin, King Kekaulike and Maui high schools, Seabury Hall and Kamehameha Schools Maui, this year’s participants included off-island students from Mid-Pacific Institute and St. Andrew’s Priory on Oahu and Lanai High School.

Jayde Fernandez, 17, who will begin her senior year at Lanai High, said she has been interested in forensics since she finished middle school.

“I thought this would be a good start and good experience,” said Fernandez, who wants to enter the field of forensic psychology. “I just like the hands-on stuff and being able to meet actual detectives and listen to the stories they have.”

MPD hosts the camp, which is free for the students. They received bags, T-shirts and caps that were donated for the camp, as well as a binder filled with reference material.

Earles, who has worked as an MPD evidence specialist for nine years, said the camp builds on the “CSI effect,” a reference to the popular television shows that have gotten some students interested in the field. Through the camp, he said, students get a taste of what the work really involves.

“I want them to realize the stuff they see on TV — people in suits, women in high heels — it ain’t all that glamour,” he said. “You’re getting dirty. You’re getting into whatever.”

He tells students to wear jeans for the hands-on activities, including the footwear casting.

In his MPD job, Earles said footwear casting has helped police identify suspects in some cases, including a vicious sexual assault of a woman in Kihei several years ago. The woman was unconscious in the hospital for a few days. At the scene of the attack in a construction site, police found footwear impressions as the woman was dragged.

While most of the impressions were in sandy soil, one was behind a rock wall in soil used for landscaping, Earles said. The impression matched the suspect, he said.

Jacqueline Kapu, who attended the camp last summer after graduating from Kihei Charter High School, said she learned the work is “way more complicated” than depicted on television. “There’s a lot more that goes into it than on TV,” she said.

Kapu, who is currently studying administration of justice at the University of Hawaii Maui College, is serving as a volunteer student summer intern for this year’s camp.

“This program is what inspired me to study administration of justice,” the 18-year-old Kihei resident said. “We did so many cool things. We were able to tour the police station, dispatch center, see how 911 calls come in. It gives me adrenaline.”

In addition to assisting with the camp, Kapu will help set up and staff MPD’s CSI table featuring displays and hands-on activities at the upcoming Maui Fair.

She said casting footwear impressions was one of her favorite parts of the camp, along with learning about autopsies. “I’m really curious about how it all works,” she said.

“The way that Tony instructed us last year also inspired me,” Kapu said. “He made the camp extremely exciting.”

“I just would love to be in law enforcement someday, hopefully working by his side.”

Earles said one student who was in his first CSI Camp in 2012 recently graduated from a Mainland university with a bachelor’s degree in criminology.

Others have enrolled in a criminalistics course that Earles will teach at UH-MC during the fall semester. Earles also has been selected to do a presentation on “Creating a CSI Experience for Students” at the International Association for Identification’s Educational Conference in Sacramento, California, in August.

“The bottom line is we’re here for the community,” Earles said. “We’re here for the victims. We want to bring closure to the case.

“The good thing about it is the evidence speaks for itself. I’m nonbiased. I stay right in the center. The evidence will tell the story. We just have to be able to recognize the evidence, document it and then bring it to the court.”

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Information from: The Maui News, http://www.mauinews.com

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