“Come hang out” with CSI club

Members of the South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC) CSI club experience various fields of forensic science through hands-on activities that demonstrate how real crime-scene investigations are actually conducted.

Club members use real equipment, like colored powder, magnetic wands, and iodine to dust for fingerprints. They also occasionally study blood spatter by filling up mannequin heads with fake blood and bashing them with hammers.

The club frequently sets up mock crime scenes around campus, much to the confusion and horror of passing students. “I was definitely alarmed and concerned initially because I thought someone was hurt. Once I realized what was happening, I thought it was a good way to get some practical experience in something that seems hard to get in a school environment,” said student Tawny Mayer.

The club’s advisor, Warren McLeod, is the forensics professor at SPSCC and elected coroner of Lewis County. I had the pleasure of joining the CSI club for one of their meetings a few weeks ago after receiving an email from McLeod that invited me to “come hang out with” them for a meeting. Though I wasn’t lucky enough to dust for fingerprints, examine a mock crime scene, or bash in a fake skull, I did get to hear about the events the CSI club is currently planning for next year.

The club goes to the American Academy of Forensic Science Conference (AAFS) every year, and the club plans on sending five students to the next meeting in February 2013.

Samantha Grove, the club’s secretary, said the AAFS conference is an international event that “brings together the leading minds in the fields of forensic science so they can discuss the cases they have worked on and any new research that has come out.”

The AAFS conference offers students planning to major in forensics invaluable knowledge, as it allows them to meet and communicate with the brightest minds in the field.

According to Elyssa Meitz, club treasurer, “While attending the conference I discovered that I truly wished to pursue forensic science, as a toxicologist…a field that combines my love of medical science and forensic science.”

Grove said the CSI club is also plans to set up lectures with guest speakers from some of the other clubs on campus. Meitz is currently working with the Culinary Club to plan a Murder Mystery Dinner event for fall quarter. Though the event isn’t set in stone, Meitz is confident that additional members would make events such as these easier to plan.

Club members said working with McLeod’s experience is a great opportunity for club members, and he is always willing to recount tales of his personal experience working as a coroner and medical examiner.

McLeod also offers an internship at his office in Lewis County every quarter. Grove worked with McLeod as an intern shortly after beginning her academic career at SPSCC and now works at his office as a deputy coroner assistant. Though you do not have to be a member of the club to apply, participating in both would prove beneficial to any student pursuing a career in forensics or criminal justice.

The CSI club meets on the first and third Thursday of every month in Building 23, Room 221 at noon. Students interested in joining the club can contact McLeod via email at wmcleod@spscc.ctc.edu or simply show up to a meeting.