|The Real CSI: Crime Scene Investigation & Forensics
This course will introduce students to crime scene investigation and forensic science, and attempt to dispel some of the myths about these fields. Topics will include the history and sub-disciplines of forensic science, the application of the scientific method to crime scenes, and the legal requirements of evidence. Students will learn the methods of crime scene documentation, and the types of evidence commonly encountered at crime scenes such as blood and fingerprints. Methods of human identification, questioned documents, and criminal behavioral analysis will also be covered. Fun, hands-on exercises will re-enforce concepts discussed in lecture.
Week by Week Outline
Week 1: Introduction to Evidence and Forensic Science: History and sub-disciplines of forensic science, CSI fantasy vs. reality, investigative personnel and roles, the path of evidence through the justice system, crime lab structure, legal requirements of evidence, categories of evidence and probative value.
Week 2: Crime Scene Investigation and Documentation: Scientific thinking and the scientific method, recognizing evidence, steps of crime scene investigation and reconstruction, methods used to document evidence at a crime scene. Practical Exercise.
Week 3: Blood Pattern Analysis. Interpreting stains, types and degree of force, the effects of surface, distance traveled, and angle of impact on resulting blood stains. Practical Exercise.
Week 4: Human Identification: Forensic anthropology (bones), forensic odontology (teeth), and fingerprints. Practical Exercise.
Week 5: Questioned Documents: Methods of document analysis including handwriting comparisons, visualizing indented writing, and using varying wavelengths of light to restore faded print.
Week 6: Criminal Profiling: Methods, limits, and challenges of criminal behavioral analysis, reality vs. television.
Objectives of the Course Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:
• Distinguish forensic fact from forensic fiction.
• Display knowledge regarding the limits and value of forensic evidence, and the legal requirements involved in the collection and handling of evidence.
• Document a crime scene methodically using notes, photos, and diagrams.
• Apply the scientific method to reconstruct a crime scene.
• Analyze commonly encountered evidence such as blood stains and fingerprints, and less commonly encountered evidence such as bones, bite marks, and questioned documents.