What looked like a Hollywood set on Rockdale Road in West Haven Friday was a staged, yet realistic, crime scene created for 35 teens.
The high school students from across the country put their skills to the test after learning advanced techniques all week at Crime Scene Investigation Camp at the University of New Haven.
Program director Peter Massey and his staff transformed the Rockdale Road house, which is owned by the university, into a bloody crime scene, scattered with fake drugs, blood splatter evidence and cotton mannequin bodies.
“It’s a lot more intense when you’re doing this here because you have to take everything that you were taught and everything that you’ve learned, and apply it,” Jacob Bladd, of Middletown, said.
Massey emphasized the importance of training his students in a simulated situation and “in the correct, right way.”
“Again, we don’t want to do shortcuts. We don’t want to cause trouble for anybody. We just want to make sure it’s done right,” he said.
New to the ninth year of the camp were two pieces of advanced technology currently being used by crime units across the country.
The first device identifies fingerprints on site faster than ever. The second, a portable photometer, detects unknown powders. Teens were able to use both during their simulated investigations.
Reece Purdie traveled all the way from Riverside, California to attend the camp and is interested in working as a forensic scientist.
“There’s just a hammer chilling in a barbeque pit,” Purdie said. “That’s awesome because you don’t know what the hammer’s there for. It could’ve been there for someone who was having a barbeque or it could be part of the crime scene. We won’t know until we test it.”
The university’s forensic department uses the Rockdale Road house during the academic year for all of their field work.