If you’re going to learn how to gather evidence, why not do it for real?
Letting students step into a real-life crime scene and find evidence the real way is exactly what Humber College’s new Centre for Justice Leadership was built for. Aptly nicknamed “C.S.I. Humber” by staff, the centres features interview labs, a forensic studio and specially built classroom that fully recreates a one-bedroom apartment.
Meant primarily for students in Humber’s police officer programs, the centre lets students get into the action of what a real crime investigation looks and feels like.
The state-of-the-art crime scene simulation studio is any C.S.I. fan’s dream: A 65-seat theatre built around a real one-bedroom apartment where students get to practice the finer points of collecting, cataloguing and protecting evidence in a typical environment. Bullet casings might be found behind a couch with telltale fingerprints imprinted on a nearby wall, for example.
Built-in cameras throughout the room let students and instructors zoom into specific pieces of evidence on the scene as small as a human hair and project them onto a large screen for discussion and examination as a class.
Instructors and students can move around furniture and objects however they wish to set up a new crime scene every time, making each investigation unique.
Gina Antonacci, dean of Humber’s School of Social and Community Services, says that while the simulation studio is definitely meant to impress, the ultimate goal is to give students a forum in which to not only experience the act of investigating a crime, but to also share their thoughts, techniques and observations with each other.
“It combines the applied nature of gathering evidence with technology that creates a learning space that’s exciting. These are things students can really learn from and be able to share with other students,” Antonacci said.
Along with the staged apartment, the centre includes a forensic studio where students can learn evidence-gathering techniques, such as extracting fingerprints from a gun, as well as four interview rooms that are rigged for videotaping and streaming into the classroom so that students can practice conducting interviews in real-time and have their performance reviewed right away.
The school is partnered with the Toronto Police and Antonacci says officers have already toured the facility and given it their seal of approval.
The centre opened yesterday; Antonacci hopes it will be the premiere resource of its kind for training students in policing.
“It’s about creating a space for advanced learning where students have an opportunity to practice their skills and reflect on what they’re doing. It’s about preparing students for occupations that actually exist,” Antonacci said.