Eielson law enforcement reaches out to BEHS students
By Airman 1st Class Nora Anton, 354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 06, 2007
EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska --
Investigators from the 354th Security Forces Squadron took a detour from regular day-to-day operations to demonstrate to local high school students the intricacies of forensic science Jan. 30 at the Ben Eielson Junior/Senior Highschool.
The students of Ben Eielson Junior/Senior High School received an abridged forensics lesson about theories such as Locard's Exchange Principle and Fruit of the Poisonous Tree protocol, and information about the differences between military and civilian law enforcement.
"Forensics provides the most conclusive evidence at a crime scene," said Investigator Christopher Stone, 354TH SFS NCO in charge of investigations. "It has the power to sentence men to their death or to set them free."
The investigators conducted an interactive presentation on crime scene processing and surveillance.
"We demonstrated the use of our fuming tank, an air-tight container used for attaining finger prints, dusted items for latent prints, conducted a presumptive test for marijuana using our drug test kits and showed a brief surveillance tape of an employee theft at the AAFES gas station," Investigator Stone said. "We also demonstrated use of infrared marking dye we use to tag stolen items during theft sting operations."
The investigators also made it a point to deglamorize what Hollywood has made of investigating with television shows such as CSI.
"We told the students it takes weeks to confirm fingerprints, organic materials and other evidence," Investigator Stone said. "Those shows do employ paid consultants to keep the science as real as possible, but for time and entertainment purposes, they cut steps and truncate time tables."
The students were very interested and willing to participate, said the sergeant.
"The students immediately engaged us with questions and personal experiences," he said. "They asked a lot of questions about law enforcement officers' integrity and were passionate about punishments regarding cops who impugn their integrity and break the law."
Mrs. Renee Parsley, BEHS crime forensics teacher, said, "The students really enjoyed the guest speakers; it was really educational and there were a lot of hands-on things to do."
Mrs. Parsley also said the investigators were very well-versed in their profession and understood the students and what they were interested in.
"Not all guest speakers understand the students this well," she said. "They did a great job and were very dynamic."
Both teacher and investigator concurred that the most interesting part of the class for the students was the fingerprint demonstration.
"The students readily engaged in conversation and participation when we used our fume tank to locate fingerprints on a cup," Investigator Stone said.
"The fuming agent, cyanoacrylate, is almost chemically equivalent to superglue and adheres to the oils, salt and amino acids found in about two percent of your fingerprint. The other 98 percent is just water and will degenerate quickly in dry environments like Alaska, so we add warm, distilled water to the tank and a heat source to active the fuming agent," he said.
"They let the students hold the cup and some of the students got to dust it with magnetic dust," Mrs. Parsley said. "They seemed pretty excited, I think because its something they see on television a lot."
The overall outcome of this investigator-student relationship is an increased interest in forensic science for youth and the continuation of a great joint relationship with the school, Investigator Stone said.
In addition to investigators' demonstrations, the 354th SFS also conducts cooperative readiness exercises with the school to ensure teachers and students are prepared for an emergency situation.
"We conducted a joint exercise in December with the Alaska State Troopers and the Northstar Borough security officer at BEHS," explained the investigator.
The exercise was conducted during normal class hours so the school could practice its emergency lockdown procedure.
"We conducted a training drill, with a scenario of a disgruntled parent shooting the assistant principal, Mr. John Fink," he said. "We had our Hostage Rescue Counter-Terrorism Team, the equivalent of a civilian SWAT team, perform a sweep and clear of the school."
More security forces-school partnership is expected in the near future, Investigator Stone said.
"We are coordinating some proactive preventative steps to address the increased reports of drug use in the Fairbanks Northstar Borough school system," he said.
"All of the school's faculty members I have worked with have been extremely concerned with the role law enforcement plays in the daily lives of the students, teachers and parents," Investigator Stone said. "We have worked in cooperation with the faculty on several reports of incidents at all of the schools on base - they welcome our assistance and we welcome theirs."