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Junior CSI: Applying classroom to real world
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Students participating in the Junior Crime Scene Investigation Academy at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Manteca / Lathrop are discovering that classroom work applies to the real world.

In piecing together a crime scene, Lynda Donelson, a reserve Manteca Police Department sergeant and director of the academy since its inception six years ago, points out that the 28 enrolled in the week-long program – fourth through sixth-grade students – will use science, math, language, and memorization skills.

“They’ll have three minutes to look around a crime scene and will have to write down and remember everything they saw,” she said. “Using math, they’ll also do some diagramming.”

Donelson added that those in the Junior CSI Academy will learn how to properly gather evidence, finger-printing, and take a field trip Wednesday to the local police department, morgue (forensic science), and the Lathrop-Manteca Fire District (arson investigation).
All told, the program provides a unique experience for youngsters to learn about basic CSI techniques from law enforcement personnel, according to John Scharf, the club’s lead youth coordinator.

On Monday, the first day of the academy, students were educated on local law enforcement’s Gang Unit, Bomb Unit and K-9 Unit.
Cpl. Randy Chiek introduced youngsters to Blade, his 8-year-old German shepherd and family dog trained to apprehend the bad guy.
Police Explorer Josh Luis, wearing the padded sleeve, had a chance to play the bad guy as part of the training exhibition.
By now, he’s used to the dog chasing him down and locking his teeth on to the thick padding wrapped around his arm.
 But it wasn’t always the case.

“The first time the dog came running at me full speed I was scared,” Luis said.

For Blade, the exercise is fun and games.

“It’s like playing Xbox or Nintendo for him,” Chiek told the group.

Youngsters had waited in anticipation for Det. Mike Keener’s demonstration of the bomb squad robot. It’s the same one shared by the other law enforcement agencies in San Joaquin County. Using a concoction of water and food coloring, Keener, who was assisted by his son, Clayton, had hoped to entertain the kids by simulating an explosion.

“We had a dud,” the younger Keener said.

Meanwhile, Donelson noted that youngsters in the academy will have a chance to put their know-how in use at Friday’s crime scene finale at the local Boys & Girls Club.