Fake crime, real experience

Simulations of real-world scenarios are important experiential learning tools for different programs at Lees-McRae

On Wednesday, April 6 the sun was shining, the grass was green, and there was a dead body on the lawn in front of Tennessee hall.

The toppled mannequin representing a victim killed by gunshot wound to the chest laid face down on the lawn as Criminal Justice students swarmed around the mock crime scene.

This crime scene simulation is an important part of the experiential learning Criminal Justice students undergo to prepare them for work in the field. Each student was assigned a role, ranging from patrol officers and investigators to witnesses and family members of the victim.

Students were broken down into groups and debriefed on any information about the crime that was relevant to their role before they launched into action. Patrol officers practiced crowd control over rowdy onlookers while media circled the scene, questioning patrol officers and investigators who began to analyze the evidence and question suspects and witnesses.

“We should put gloves on,” senior Nicole Shapiro thought aloud before making an announcement to her fellow officers. “If you’re going to be near the dead body please put on gloves.”

Patrol taped off the scene, placed orange cones around the victim’s body, and began to identify evidence, which was then marked with yellow numbers. While the students were mostly left to explore the scenario and investigate the crime on their own, they did receive some necessary guidance from their professors, Instructor of Criminal Justice Jerry Turbyfill and Visiting Instructor of Criminal Justice Derrick Lail.

“As you’re roping off the crime scene keep in mind that you want to rope it off to preserve any potential evidence. Make it as wide as you need to make it,” Lail said. “Eventually you’re going to want to start a log of anybody who steps on the other side of this crime scene tape.”

Experiential learning opportunities like this are a keystone of the educational strategy at Lees-McRae and are extremely important for programs like Criminal Justice that teach students skills that translate directly to the real world.

“This is a teaching experience, they’re not being tested on this,” Turbyfill said. “It’s an important learning experience.”

Learn more about experiential learning at Lees-McRae.

By Maya JarrellApril 12, 2022