Saturday, June 25, 2022
June 25, 2022

Linkedin Pinterest

CSI Vancouver: Camp teaches teens to solve crimes

Police Activities League works with sheriff's deputy to map out week of hands-on learning

By , Columbian Breaking News Reporter
Published:
5 Photos
Above: Sheriff’s deputies Jeremy Koch, left, and Chris Luque lead 14-year-old Kenzie Brown, dressed in a full bomb suit, around a simulated crime scene to look for staged explosives. The Tuesday simulation was part of a full week of activities. Left: Deputies Chris Luque, left, and Jeremy Koch, right, help Jayden Pantier of Vancouver, 13, put on a bomb suit.
Above: Sheriff’s deputies Jeremy Koch, left, and Chris Luque lead 14-year-old Kenzie Brown, dressed in a full bomb suit, around a simulated crime scene to look for staged explosives. The Tuesday simulation was part of a full week of activities. Left: Deputies Chris Luque, left, and Jeremy Koch, right, help Jayden Pantier of Vancouver, 13, put on a bomb suit. (Alisha Jucevic/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Weighed down by a 95-pound bomb squad suit, 13-year-old Jayden Pantier plodded through the courtyard of a Vancouver high school, his eyes scanning through the small window of the helmet.

When he spotted something out of place — what appeared to be four tubes of dynamite — he backed away and relayed the information to two deputies standing nearby: It’s in a bush, about 14 feet from the door, he told them.

“I’m a big ol’ marshmallow,” he later said, still inside the suit. “That was hard. I couldn’t bend my knees at all.”

Pantier is one of a dozen teenagers participating in CSI Vancouver, a new summer camp offered by the Police Activities League.

The idea for the camp started when Jenny Thompson, the executive director of the nonprofit, noticed there wasn’t a summer camp for teens.

“It really came out of, ‘What do you do with teens for the summer?’ What’s fun and exciting? Have them solve a crime,” she said.

She reached out to schools, used social media and went through parks departments to garner interest and opened the camp to incoming eighth-graders and high-schoolers. Henrietta Lacks Health and Bioscience High School let them use its campus.

Thompson worked with Clark County sheriff’s Deputy Chris Luque to map out a week filled with hands-on learning, interaction with law enforcement, a taste of what the job entails and a chance for teens to try solving a crime themselves.

Starting with a bang

The camp started off with a bang on Monday — a fictitious bomb exploded near a fictitious professor’s car. A backpack with a wire coming out was then found in the hallway of a classroom.

On Tuesday, campers operated bomb-neutralizing robots, used an X-ray machine to peer inside suspicious bags and climbed into a bomb suit to make sure the scene was safe.

Throughout the rest of the week, they’ll take fingerprints and DNA swabs, interview witnesses and suspects and pore over the evidence found through a search warrant. By the end of the week, they’ll put the pieces together to identify the person responsible.

“Obviously it’s fun, playing with all the toys, but I wanted something that kept them going through the week thinking about what tomorrow was going to be,” Luque said. “In real crimes, you go home and you can’t stop thinking about it. What you thought going into it today was completely different by the end of the day. We’re hoping to introduce some of that to them.”

Sheriff’s Cmdr. K.C. Kasberg, who oversees the special operations unit, said that programs like these allow law enforcement and kids to interact in a positive setting.

“We don’t always have the best reputation among high school students,” he said. “What’s cool is that it shows the kids that we do a lot more than just write tickets and pull people over, which is what they typically see.”

Kasberg added that showing the teens more of the work might inspire them to go into law enforcement.

But some of them can already see themselves holding the career down the road.

Katherine Stump, 15, said that she finds everything about police work interesting. The work, she said, allows you to help people out of danger and she is learning how to do that purely through observation.

“I’m learning how to investigate a scene and take details out of it, she said. “Even if a detail seems really small, write it down because that could change a whole investigation. … It’s amazing.”

Columbian Breaking News Reporter

Support local journalism

Your tax-deductible donation to The Columbian’s Community Funded Journalism program will contribute to better local reporting on key issues, including homelessness, housing, transportation and the environment. Reporters will focus on narrative, investigative and data-driven storytelling.

Local journalism needs your help. It’s an essential part of a healthy community and a healthy democracy.

Community Funded Journalism logo
Loading...