By Scott Prater | Mountaineer staff
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Fort Carson grade schoolers worked through a mock crime scene at Mesa School Age Center (SAC) July 18, 2019, searching for clues, taking detailed notes and lifting fingerprints off of windows, door jams, floors and table tops.
The students, ages 6 to 12, participated in activities during day four of CSI Summer Camp (a camp designed to mimic crime scene investigation) at the Mountain Post, a weeklong camp organized by Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Child and Youth Services (CYS) staff in partnership with military police investigators (MPI) and the post’s criminal investigation command (CID).
While the campers studied the makeshift crime scene inside a classroom at Mesa SAC, military police investigators provided guidance as to some of the important items in the room.
“The idea is to introduce school age kids to different professions and to let them know there are jobs out there that are interesting and that they can do,” said Tina Gagne, CSI Summer Camp coordinator and lead program assistant at Mesa SAC. “That’s why we incorporate different parts of the military police, police investigators and judge advocate staff.”
During the weeklong activity, campers toured the Fort Carson Police Station and watched a K-9 demonstration. The next day, Fort Carson Wildlife Education conservation officers provided lessons about local wildlife and students ran through a mock police academy obstacle course.
The third day included learning proper fingerprinting techniques, where they dusted and lifted fingerprints and made cards to display the prints.
“We bring the campers in and they get to see representatives from our operations center and our investigations division,” said Sgt. Carter Watkins, military police investigator, 148th Military Police Detachment, 759th MP Battalion. “It’s an opportunity to build some trust with the kids and it seems to be fun for them, especially those who have an interest in police work.”
The campers were able to put their training to use during the fourth day, as they were introduced to the mock crime scene inside a classroom and tasked with collecting evidence.
Under the watchful eyes of MPIs, they took photos, examined the area for missing items and logged what they found, before carefully collecting boot and fingerprints in preparation for the camp’s culminating event, a trial scheduled for the following day at the post’s courthouse.
“We set up a scene where they could kind of discover and evaluate details,” Watkins said. “They noticed an open window and boot prints on the floor. Eventually, they decided on a potential suspect and were able to make a mock arrest. I was a bit surprised, too. They are young, but they thought of good questions and collected good evidence.”
On trial day, the campers assumed the roles of prosecutor, defense attorney, judge and jury with the assistance of the MPIs and judge advocate staff while they deliberated the case.
This year marks the fourth time the CSI camp has been offered to CYS students, and Gagne said the camp seems to grow in participation and activities each year.
“The kids learn a wide range of subjects — from police work to law, lab technology and crime scene investigation,” Gagne said. “Many of the campers said this was the best camp they’ve ever attended, and that they liked every step.”