Multiple crime scenes were under scrutiny at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park on Friday morning.Photo by Brandon Hicks

CSI 1776

Published 8:48am Monday, April 28, 2014

No need to worry, though.
There wasn’t a crime outbreak. Criminal justice students from Elizabethton and Happy Valley high schools were testing out their crime scene investigation skills in the 2014 Northeast Tennessee CSI Competition.
In the competition, students were divided into five groups. Each group staged a crime scene that depicted a different crime – such as a homicide, a drug deal that had gone wrong or a crime scene with a missing victim – for another team to solve. After the teams arranged their first scene, they were taken to the scene that they were to investigate to determine what happened.
“We wanted to give the students a chance to get hands-on experience,” said EHS teacher and contest organizer Ryan Presnell. “This gives them a golden opportunity to interact with people who work in these types of situations every day.”
The teams were being judged by members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Carter County Sheriff’s Department and the Elizabethton Police Department on how they secured, searched, investigated and collected evidence in the scenes they examined, and for how they arranged evidence in the crime scenes they were responsible for setting up.
HVHS junior Breanne Holder was looking forward to the entire competition.
“It is always fun to be in a competition, especially against bigger schools,” Holder said.
After a brief instructional session, the students were divided into teams, given their law enforcement judges and were sent out to different areas of Sycamore Shoals park to set up their crime scenes.
Many of the students are thinking of pursuing a career in criminal investigation, or had become interested in the field because of the many television shows that depict the career field.
EHS sophomore Olivia Sapp said a career as a criminal investigator was something she had considered for a long time.
“I have always wanted to be a detective,” Sapp said.
EHS sophomore Kaitlynn Puckett was on a team with Sapp. Puckett said she also wanted to pursue a career in criminal justice and was excited about processing a crime scene.
“I think it will be exciting to do the fingerprints and the DNA analysis,” Puckett said. “We are hoping our scene has areas where we can hide the evidence and make it harder for the other teams to find.”
The students from HVHS were given the crime scene of a drug deal that had turned bad, resulting in the shooting death of one of the participants.
Sophomore Shelby Harding planned to use different forms of evidence as a way to possibly stump the other teams.
“We are going to use different evidence that is almost alike but there is a little difference between them,” Harding said.
After the scene was set up, the students were taken to the crime scene set up by another team for them to interpret.
“We are looking for anything and everything,” HVHS sophomore Demetrius Canter said. “Sometimes it will be right there in front of you. Other times, you have to look a little harder.”
After the teams investigated their crime scenes, the students had to submit a report on their findings. Of the five teams, the first and second place teams were given awards sponsored by the Tennessee Army National Guard.

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