News: CSI Korea: OSI agents train with local agencies
Story by Staff Sgt. Chad Thompson
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea - Osan Air Base's AFOSI detachment recently established this mock "crime scene" and took the opportunity to not only practice their own abilities, but also teach and learn from local Republic of Korea Air Force members and Korean police investigators.
What appears to be a dead body is found laying in the grass. Several footprints are discovered leaving the scene. Further investigation shows tire tracks of a vehicle that might have been used to flee the scene. A cordon is set up, it is determined that a "crime" has taken place, and Air Force Office of Special Investigations agents are called to action.
Osan Air Base's AFOSI detachment recently established this mock "crime scene" and took the opportunity to not only practice their own abilities, but also teach and learn from local Republic of Korea Air Force members and Korean police investigators.
This was something Lt. Col. Shan Nuckols, 5th Field Investigations Squadron commander, said the base hasn't done with local agencies in more than three years.
"Not only is this a great opportunity for us to train with our local agencies but it is also our chance to learn from them as they learn from us," Nuckols said.
The training included numerous crime scene investigation forensic techniques.
The techniques included procedures in photographing a dead body; conducting an outdoor line search to look for evidence at a crime scene; photographing and casting footprints; photographing a vehicle used in a crime; photographing tire tracks; and finding and lifting fingerprints off different types of materials.
Special Agent Peter Van Damme, 5th FIS, said being systematic in each process is one of the most important parts of processing a crime scene.
He said whether someone is photographing a vehicle or a footprint, it's important for everyone to start the process and follow through each step one at a time.
It's this approach that helps turn a suspicious car into a piece of evidence, and it's important that locals know how AFOSI does business in case they ever have to work together.
Special Agent Alison Babcock, an AFOSI forensic science consultant stationed at Yokota Air Base, Japan, was brought to Osan AB to help with this training.
"It's very important to foster these relationships because if we ever have a crime scene off base we have to have a good relationship with local law enforcement," Babcock said. "If we ever have to process the scene jointly it's good to know what their capabilities are as well as knowing what our capabilities are."
She said it's that teamwork that's going to allow investigators to preserve and collect the evidence associated with a case to make sure a thorough investigation is conducted.
Ensuring that everyone was "on the same page" was why she was here, and it's her expertise with forensics and each process that has equipped her with the right tools for this task.
A lot of time and energy focused during the training was on proper procedures for photographing different pieces of evidence and collecting finger prints.
She said a lot of people don't understand the quantity of photographs that are needed when looking at a piece of evidence.
Babcock said for a shoe impression, there are a total of nine photos needed -- all of which are taken from the same point with different lighting angles.
In each instance, the numerous photos are used to build a 360-degree picture of the item.
There must be no doubt in the science behind something that is being used as evidence in a crime, she said.
Each piece of the puzzle at a crime scene has the potential to turn something unknown into a hard piece of evidence, such as a shoe print, a finger print or even a tool mark that is left behind in a crime, she continued.
When evidence is processed correctly, it could potentially be used to either put someone behind bars or keep an innocent person from being convicted of a crime they didn't commit, Babcock pointed out.