Local course teaches students to dig for buried bodies
There's a course this week at Northampton Community College that's not all in the classroom. Most of it is outside in the dirt and the students are members of law enforcement agencies from Pennsylvania and other states. The Buried Body and Surface Skeleton course uses fake skeletons to teach forensic workers skills and techniques when handling situations when bodies are found in the ground.
The Northeast Forensic Training Center at Northampton Community College hosts the course. Jan Johnson, who owns a company called Forensic Pieces, traveled from Florida to teach it. She has more than 40 years of experience with forensic work and travels around the country teaching different classes.
"I love giving back to the forensic community things I've learned in my background," said Johnson.
"When you have a scene like this, whether it be a surface skeleton or a buried body, you want to get all the physical evidence at the scene whichs means the hairs, the fibers, any potential evidence that may be there," Johnson said.
Detective John Grassel with Rhode Island State Police is one of the participants.
"It's great training," he said. "It's challenging because it is as close to real life as it can be."
Andrea Feldman, a crime scene investigator with the Prince William County Police Department in Virginia, said "It's important to practice before you actually have to come out to a crime scene like this."
"Maybe I can go back to my unit and share everything I learned here so we're all on the same page and work crime scenes the same exact way," Feldman added.
It's all about the details with this kind of work.
Johsnon said, "When it comes time to go to court, especially since the CSI effect is on all of us, everybody expects perfection and the courts and the juries, they want that."
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