- Associated Press - Thursday, July 21, 2016

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) - The report came in as shots fired. A team of patrol officers set off near a wooded area, searching for a “gunman.”

The simulated incident was part of an experiential learning exercise Wednesday evening in Dobbs Park for Harrison College criminal justice students. And like real-world police work, the information relayed by the caller was incomplete. The noise could have simply been fireworks or authorities may be dealing with a violent crime.

“So we really don’t know what we’ve got,” Sheriff Greg Ewing, who recently joined Harrison’s faculty to teach an introductory law enforcement course, told the students hunting the edge of Pinewood Trail.

A sweep near the Native American museum didn’t turn up any clues, so the group made its way to the butterfly garden. There they found the woman who heard a series of loud pops and called 911.

“I haven’t seen anyone,” Laura Welcher, whose husband, Steve, is the college’s dean of academic affairs, told the mock first responders. “Haven’t seen a gun.”

The students took down Welcher’s contact information before entering Pinewood Trail to continue assessing the scene. A short walk down the muddy path led to student Kelley Grizzel tending to the “victim,” Teresa Conder.

Conder pretended to be shot in the arm. With fake blood smearing her T-shirt and hand, she gave the patrol officers a description of a “husky” man with gray curly hair and a thin woman with a long ponytail.

Lester Eytchison, an adjunct criminal justice instructor, played the role of a paramedic, radioing to a dispatcher that an ambulance was on the scene. Ewing instructed the class to secure the scene.

The scenario is one of two mock crime scenes planned as part of the experience. On Harrison’s campus in September, the Seelyville Volunteer Fire Department will stage a structure fire, and Terre Haute Fire arson investigator Norm Loudermilk will describe an arson investigation.

A mock trial and appellate hearings will take place later this fall. Students also assisted local public safety agencies during the Vigo County Fair and will help Terre Haute Police with traffic control at National Night Out in August.

Vigo County Emergency Management director Dr. Dorene Hojnicki and Terre Haute Police Dept. Capt. Jason Brentlinger served as technical advisers for the program.

In a sweltering Dobbs Park, the students were joined by members of the sheriff’s office’s Explorer Post 84. The program, part of Crossroads of American Council of Boy Scouts of America, is open to youths age 14-21 interested in law enforcement.

Louis Reeves, dean of criminal justice who set up the mock scene, said the exercise was aimed at putting a realistic spin on what students are learning in the classroom.

“And this is pretty hands-on, as real as it gets,” he said. “It’s hot, it’s humid, it’s muddy, and so really letting the students experience what folks out in the field really experience.”

Standing on a bridge deeper in the trail, as her colleagues looked on, student Kiana Johnson radioed for criminal investigators - represented by Harrison criminal investigations and criminalistics classes.

Waiting for the investigators, the first responders received two pieces of evidence: a student ID and Harrison notebook.

After speaking with the witness who found the items, a pair of sightseers played by Laura and Steve Welcher approached the area.

Ewing instructed a couple students to divert them. “That actually happens,” he explained. “People want to come right up to the scene.”

The students stretched crime scene tape between two trees to secure the area and were reminded to log every person coming and going from the scene.

Ewing said the mock scene helps students better understand the process of working a criminal investigation.

Unfortunately, he added, the class had to deal with muggy weather.

“But it’s real world,” Ewing said. “It could be 20-below or heat advisories or rain, or whatever,” he said.

___

Source: (Terre Haute) Tribune-Star, https://bit.ly/29WWYWl

___

Information from: Tribune-Star, https://www.tribstar.com

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide