An 11-year-old writes feverishly onto a small notebook, documenting blood splatter patterns, while a plastic-gloved 13-year-old places evidence cards next to a bloody baseball bat. Ok, it's red paint, not blood, and the "dead" victim is a plastic dummy. But the LA County Sheriff Deputies helping CSI Campers investigate a set-up crime scene are very real, and it's the job of this large group of 11 to 14-year-olds to solve the crime.
"Cool!" echoing from kids in the extensive set up at Farnsworth Park. The body is in a kitchen, the blood trail leads out to the back yard. The suspect is hiding nearby! The 5 day camp is organized by the LA County Sheriff's Altadena Sub-Station Deputies as a way to give local children, out of school, something interesting to do.
But solving a murder?
"Kids watch the TV Crime shows" says LASD Captain John Benedict, explaining that "We actually made this as realistic as possible". Indeed, the campers get to go through all aspects of crime scene investigation, from evidence collection, to fingerprinting, even following clues to find that suspect. By the end of the week, they will be working with a real District Attorney to "present" a case to a "judge".
"I learned to get fingerprints!" says one proud young man, his brother chiming in "hey, don't forget the blood collection!". Yes, they are pretty obsessed with the blood work, but also "get into" questioning their witness and eventually, the suspect.
"See? he is wearing the same Vans that left bloody footprints", whispers one young lady."I didn't think it would be this interesting" adds another camper. One 13 year old explains she is so into this, she wants to do CSI work for a living.
"This is really about creating relationships with our kids" explains Benedict, "But it would be really cool if they did end up in the business!". It's gotten so popular, they are already planning on more locations for next year. They may even add the news media angle, which proved very popular. Nothing like a bunch of pre teens telling us to get behind the yellow tape.
"No comment" is all we could get out of them!
For more information, you can call Deputy Scott Rule, at the Altadena Sheriff Station. His number is 626-798-1131.
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