- The Washington Times - Monday, June 29, 2009

CUMBERLAND, Md. | (AP) — “We all decided they wanted me to be sergeant,” said Morgan Cook, 11, one of four team leaders at the Cumberland Police Department Summer Camp. “The sergeant is the team leader who organizes everybody.”

The weeklong outreach program with middle schoolers is held by the police department in cooperation with the Salvation Army. Its goal is to provide campers with the information to make smart, healthy and safe decisions and goals for a productive life.

A crime-scene investigation exercise was part of the program for a group of 35 youngsters ages 10 to 12 at the summer camp. But the focus that day wasn’t on the big picture. It was on one of four mock crime scenes where campers had to secure, photograph and collect forensics and turn in that evidence following proper procedure.

“Your photographers and sketchers are the first into a room,” Cumberland Police Cpl. Jim Hott told the four team sergeants. “You’ve got to capture the scene.”

Officer Chris Fraley was in charge of a mock hit-and-run that happened in an alley next to the Salvation Army building. After impact, the driver got out of the vehicle and put his hands on the rear passenger window of Officer Fraley’s police cruiser, which took most of the impact.

The driver then fled the scene — and Officer Fraley’s team of young forensic investigators got to work.

Daniel Hott, 10, photographed the scene. Mason McKay, also 10, drew the crime scene onto a paper, which could later be used by another officer in writing the incident report.

“I’m supposed to design the rough draft,” Mason said.

Mason said he took care illustrating the car and its placement in the alley between a fence and the brick building.

Officer Fraley said the campers prepared for the exercise in a morning training session with Sgt. Chuck Ternent.

Sgt. Ternent went over the basics of crime scene investigation — including evidence collection and why certain distances are measured, such as from the point of a piece of evidence to another fixed point.

Campers were also scheduled to take part in a K-9 unit presentation, a Cumberland Emergency Response Team demonstration, drug and alcohol awareness training, a Maryland State Police helicopter demo and a class on Internet safety and bullying.



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