MPs train to protect, preserve

Story and photos by Spc. Adrienne Killingsworth
18th Military Police Brigade Public Affairs Office

Soldiers from the 18th Military Police Brigade, along with Criminal Investigation Division special agents from throughout Germany, got the opportunity to participate in a week-long Advanced Crime Scene Investigative Techniques course April 13 to 17 in Grafenwöhr, Germany.

The event was organized by the 1002nd MP Battalion (CID) and the 202nd MP Group (CID).

The training was a mixture of classroom instruction and practical exercises. Soldiers and agents were instructed in the areas of crime scene photography, blood evidence and the use of Krime Site scopes, which use ultra-violet bulbs to view fingerprints.

The course provided Soldiers and agents the chance to not only enhance the training they already have but a chance for the MPs to explore the forensic side of crime scene investigations.

Col. Jefferey Harris, commander of the 202nd MP Group (CID), and Col. Michael Walker, commander of the 1002nd MP Bn. (CID), sat in on the training and observed and encouraged the students to take full advantage of their unique experience.

“The MP corps as a whole – we have a hard time getting together like this. You don’t have this opportunity very often so take advantage of this. Ask questions,” said Colonel Harris to the group.

Traditionally, the role of military police at a crime scene involves acting as initial responders to the call, securing the scene, providing aid to victims and keeping non-

essential personnel away from the crime scene, among other things.

The training in Grafenwöhr gave the MPs a chance to get a more in-depth look at what goes on at a crime scene once CID arrives.  

“It’s helpful because we can better understand what CID does when they get out there. It helps us better support them because right now we’re seeing all of the different things that they’re having to do, which are really elaborate,” said Staff Sgt. Jason Murray, an MP with the 92nd MP Company.

The course kicked off with the photography instruction, which reviewed basic camera techniques and allowed students to apply the information they received in photographing evidence as well as surveillance photography. Students were also instructed on the principles of forensic photography, the presentation of photographs in court and the process of photographing a crime scene.

Special Agent Patrick John Connor, Ansbach CID special agent in charge and forensic science officer, was the instructor for the course. He said he begins the training with photography because he believes so much of the advanced training hinges on the ability to have a strong understanding of photography in the investigative process.

After photography, the students moved on to the blood evidence training, which gave the Soldiers and agents a more advanced look at the specifics of how to analyze and understand blood evidence at a crime scene.

Instruction focused on blood pattern analysis, blood evidence collection and forensic entomology – the relationship between insects and physical human evidence. The practical exercises gave the students a chance to collect blood samples and go into the field to collect forensic entomological evidence at a mock crime scene.

Agent Connor said the training would be helpful not by making the Soldiers experts in blood evidence, but by giving them, “an understanding of how (analysis) works, just so they’re familiar with it.”

Krime Site Scope training rounded out the course and provided the students with a chance to use refracted ultra-violet light to find fingerprints that are not visible to the naked eye. The practical exercises provided multiple methods for identifying and collecting fingerprints at a crime scene. In a real-world application, the familiarization in these functional areas allows the military police to be more aware of the forensic aspects of a case when they come into a crime scene. Having an understanding of the forensics allows military police, the first responders to a scene, to better protect and preserve evidence that CID agents will need to collect once they arrive.

“I think it’s great. I don’t think a lot of MPs get a chance like this,” said Staff Sgt. Donald Lowery, an MP with the 92nd MP Company. Because MPs and CID work so closely with one another at the crime scenes, it is important for the two branches to be aware of one another’s roles.

“MPs come out to our crime scenes. They’re the ones that do our crime scene security. They assist us with canvas interviews, so any chance we get to teach them a little bit more of what we do, we try to do,” Agent Connor said. “I appreciate the fact that they’re out there helping us.”