S.P. Police Academy: Solving a Murder
Ever since I can remember, I always wanted to solve a crime.
Whether it was taking mental notes while reading Encyclopedia Brown and Sherlock Holmes stories, challenging my friends and family at the board game Clue,, or watching -television cop shows like "Adam-12" or "Dragnet" (reruns, of course), I was always trying to figure out the mystery.
So when I learned about the Southern Pines Police Department's Citizens Police Academy, I was as excited as rookie officer about getting his badge.
The academy is a seven-week course that meets for two hours each week.
Half of the class was devoted to a classroom session, covering various aspects of the department and police procedures. The other part was a hands-on session that allowed the 21 novice crime-fighters in our class to learn how to solving a crime.
We collected evidence, dusted for fingerprints, cast footprints and even conducted searches with the help of the K-9 units and the Special Response Teams. The goal was to gather enough evidence to obtain an arrest warrant for a suspect.
Here is a quick recap of the case.
We had a card game in the break room of the building and grounds department that resulted in murder. The janitor (we named him Schneider) said he came in for work and found the victim. He told police he saw the body, dropped a black binder and fled the scene without touching anything.
The victim was stabbed in the chest and rushed to the hospital, where he died before we could question him.
The break room was our primary crime scene. On a table in the center of the room, there was a bloody knife, wine bottles, poker chips, playing cards, three sets of reading glasses and a red rag with "#1 Blood" written on it. Overturned chairs, poker chips with blood splatter and newspapers were in the vicinity of the table.
A set of bloody footprints on the floor led to the back door.
We cast footprints and took fingerprints from the bottles and the knife. The footprints were identified as made by a size 15 Nike shoe. Fingerprints on the bottles belonged to the victim and the other card player, who lawyered up and wasn't talking to us. Fingerprints on the bloody knife belonged to Schneider, the janitor.
As the weeks progressed, Schneider became the primary suspect. We learned he had a prior arrest on drug charges and was known to affiliate with the Crips, a rival gang to the Bloods.
We obtained a search warrant for his home. The Special Response Team helped us execute the search warrant. We found a pair of sneakers - size 15 Nikes - and a piece of red cloth, which would eventually be matched to the rag found at the crime scene.
In a later week, police officers pulled Schneider over on a routine traffic stop. When he was stopped, he fled his vehicle. With the help of the K-9 units, we conducted a walk-around of his vehicle. The dogs got a positive hit for drugs, and we discovered several bags of drugs hidden in the truck.
After the search of the vehicle, the dogs tracked our suspect through the woods and brought him out. He was taken to jail.
Before a class graduation ceremony at the new police station, we presented our evidence and obtained an arrest warrant for the janitor in connection to the crime. Book 'em, Dano.
In all seriousness, the Citizens Police Academy was a blast. It was interesting and informative thanks to our instructor/coordinator, Bob Temme; our evidence technician, Joe Leggett; Chief John Letteney; and all the members of the department who took their time to teach us about their jobs and answer our questions.
Their hard work, dedication and enthusiasm really made each session great. And a special thanks to my classmates. They were fabulous. They took the class seriously, but also had fun with it.
If you are interested in the class, admission is free, but it is limited to 20 students. You must be 18 years of age and pass a background check. Preferred status is given to Southern Pines residents and individuals who own businesses or work in town.
I would encourage anyone to take the class. It will give you a greater appreciation of what the police do, as well as give you a chance to meet some great folks in your community.
And if you are like me, the class affords you the chance to channel your inner Sherlock Holmes and flex your crime-solving skills.
Contact Tom Embrey at email@example.com.
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