officers with “FEDERAL AGENT” stamped across their backs in yellow block
letters swarmed the Crime Scene Investigation House repeatedly last week as part of training exercises.
Federal probation officers from the U.S.
Probation and Pretrial Services district offices in Buffalo and Rochester,
N.Y., spent two days on campus searching the CSI House for perpetrators, drugs,
laptops, guns and other evidence. While agents searched, trainers watched from
the CSI control room in order to conduct “real-time” performance evaluations.
Within minutes of each scenario
ending, agents gathered with trainers in the control room to review DVDs and
As part of monitoring federal
parolees, the agents conduct two to three home searches each month in the
Western New York district, so while they get regular practice, exercises such
as those conducted at Pitt-Bradford allow them to refine their techniques.
Conducting searches is one of the
most dangerous tasks for agents, and watching on the monitors, it’s easy to see
why. As agents searched and cleared rooms, the trainers’ eyes darted to closets
still unchecked where more perpetrators could have been hiding.
David Bovard, deputy chief of the
district, said that most of the searches his teams conduct involve violations
of drugs, guns or child pornography. The district trains for searches twice a
year, often in abandoned areas, offering none of the realistic advantages of
the Crime Scene Investigation House.
Pitt-Bradford provides access to the
criminal justice program CSI training facilities to local, state, and federal law
enforcement agencies. Dr. Tony Gaskew, associate professor of criminal justice
and director of the program, works in collaboration with the agencies assisting
in the preparation of crime scene scenarios, along with operating the
state-of-the-art electronic recording equipment.
Opened in 2008, Pitt-Bradford’s CSI
House provides criminal justice students a realistic setting in which to learninvestigative processes and skills, including locating and lifting latent
fingerprints, learning forensic photography and documenting evidence. Closed-circuit
audio and video cameras allow instructors to see and communicate with students
as they investigate crime scenes set up in the house.
During the exercise with the federal
probation agents, several criminal justice majors served as “perpetrators” for
the scenarios. “I’ve been doing this 21 years, and this is as good as it gets,”
said trainer Thomas Langelotti.
The students benefitted also, Gaskew
said. “It was a great opportunity for criminal justice students to observe
first-hand the type of professionalism required to work as a federal agent.”
also got to meet an important member of the team for them – the agent who
coordinates internships – setting the stage for continued opportunities for
them to work with federal professionals.