Caution tape outlined cups, books and other items scattered on the floor of the CUB Lounge Thursday afternoon. The crime scene was staged as a part of the WSU Police: Face to Face Forum that took place between 4 and 5 p.m., highlighting the truths behind crime scene investigations.
Comparisons between real crime scenes and television shows and movies were brought to attention by WSU Police Sgt. Monte Griffin.
“Real crime scenes are more complicated than television and are more time consuming,” Griffin said. “We have to document, collect and secure evidence, do interviews and eventually come to conclusions about what happened.”
In his presentation, Griffin said it could take as many as a few months to conduct a full investigation.
The presentation began with Griffin interviewing two pretend victims of an alleged home invasion robbery that took place after a party. He asked them questions such as “What happened?” and “What did the criminals look like?” If a student is required to provide a testimony for police, it is best if the testimony is written down, he said.
“Eyewitness testimonies are not as reliable as most people would think,” Griffin said. “Memories decay, and if you write it down, your mind will recall more events and descriptions.”
Students were then allowed to observe the crime scene and make a statement about what they saw.
When involved in a crime scene, it is important not to touch anything because it can destroy evidence, said Maggie Cornell, junior criminal justice major.
Cornell is an intern for the WSU Police Department and volunteered to participate as one of the victims to help students understand crime scene investigation.
“We want students to learn how we conduct our investigations and know the things they should and shouldn’t do to make the investigation more successful,” Cornell said.
After students made a few statements about what they saw, Griffin continued his presentation by explaining the process of conducting investigations, such as collecting and processing evidence. The presentation concluded with some pointers on how to prevent robberies.
“Be sure to lock things up, don’t leave anything unsecured and don’t leave any valuables unattended,” Griffin said.
Many robberies take place on campus during breaks, and students should make sure that they lock their rooms and windows when they leave, he said.
The crime scene presentation displayed the importance of police as well as the danger they put themselves in to perform investigations, said Whitley Barnes, junior criminal justice and political science major.
“It showed the side of the police, and that they take risks when they enter crime scenes,” Barnes said. “They have to be careful because they don’t know what they will come across, such as a weapon.”