I am impressionable. Last week after the class on S.W.A.T., I had a vivid dream about being on the team. I am hoping that is not the case tonight after an exhilarating session on Crime Scene Investigation. In fact I WANT TO WARN YOU NOW that some of the photos to come are highly disturbing, but are the reality of what our CSI team deals with on a regular basis. We also had a heart-warming presentation on Volunteers which I am going to save for last so we close with those warm fuzzy feelings. Maybe then I will get some restful sleep!
Before we get into all the shock and awe, I have to say I was happy to see CSI investigator David Rodriguez. This was the second time in my life that I have seen him. The first time was last summer when he arrived at my house in the IRCSO Crime Scene van to investigate the bloody mess a young man left all over my driveway and bike as he tried to steal it in the wee hours one July morning. If you click on the GRIT page you can read about it ("The Bleeder: Conclusion" - posted July 3, 2014). I have not been able to properly write about it and after seeing David tonight and speaking with him about it, I am taking it as a sign that I need to get it done. I am going to do that right after I finish this post.
OK so back to business. Detective Sgt. Kyle King – known affectionately to his team as “Big Daddy” – presented the Crime Scene portion of the class. I have repeatedly told you that these guys have a great sense of humor, and no doubt Sgt. King is the IRCSO king of comedy. We laughed all night. And after seeing photos of some of what he has faced in the 25 or so years of his career, I can see why. One MUST be able to have a sense of humor to be able to have some degree of detachment from the horrors ever present in this line of work. “This is tragedy and misery all of the time,” he says. “There is no way to separate violence and death from what we do. There is nothing we can do to fix the situation. The best we can hope for is to find the truth and get justice. Most people ask WHY did this crime happen? The only answer I have is that we live amongst evil.”
WARNING – YOU MAY WANT TO SKIP THESE PHOTOS IF YOU ARE IMPRESSIONABLE LIKE ME:
(I even left out the worst ones if you can believe that!)
“We work inside the tape,” he says. “We have to de-program ourselves to expect anything. We have to approach each scene with a pristine state of mind. We have to look at each scene without the influence of what someone tells us has happened.”
Sgt. King gave a shout out to IRC Fire Rescue’s Dive Team – one of my favorite groups of people that include David Dangerfield and Kevin Slade. He said IRCFR is very proud of their Dive Team, which they are, and that he was more than happy to let them do their work of diving for submerged vehicles containing dead bodies.
We then took a tour of the new CSI facilities. Inside is the best photo studio I have ever seen, and here is where they photograph victims of domestic violence and rape in order to be able to later clearly show a jury subtle red marks that a normal photo might not be able to show. In fact we learned that photography is one of the most important tools they have at their disposal in solving crimes.
We visited the training room, the situation room, the area they do their forensic searches of automobiles, and the mobile crime lab. Forensic science makes this “the best time in history to be in this line of work,” Sgt. King says. “Our training and equipment at IRCSO is better than most departments throughout the country.” We learn that they could really use new technology which would enable them to do DNA testing on site. They could get results in 95 minutes !!
So now for the feel-good portion of the evening: the Volunteers. Ken Simone is a retired Fire Chief from Providence, Rhode Island and he spoke to us about the volunteer arm of IRCSO.
“It’s rewarding,” he says of his work. “I spent my entire life in public service and I want to keep giving.”
He explains how volunteers reduce tax dollars, and how the volunteers go through the same training as the paid deputies. “Through our drivers’ training, we learn how to control a spin-out. It’s FUN!”
Volunteers work in Road Patrol, Marine and Clerical divisions. Volunteers are not just retirees either. Many young people looking to get into the profession will get field experience through volunteering first. He points out that one of our class members - Tim Byrd - is a volunteer for IRCSO!
The volunteers create a presence and a visibility. “Visibility prevents break-ins and crime,” he says.
Volunteers do area, business and home checks both by land and water (when you are going out of town, you can ask them to come do periodic checks). They help with traffic control, DUI impounds, and speed trailers. They run errands for IRCSO and facilitate school crossings. They patrol neighborhoods and alert seniors against fraud and scams. They are victim advocates. They make daily calls to the elderly through the WE Care program. They provide parking enforcement and lock-out services (meaning they help people who have locked themselves out of their cars).
“Up north with the fire department, we averaged about 6 lock-outs a year,” he says. “Down here we do about 6 every 3 hours it seems! I think we should have AAA on the side of our patrol cars,” he laughs. “I don’t know why the numbers are so high, and often they are the same people!”
He closes with the fact that they really need more volunteers. Maybe that sounds like you? Give IRCSO a call.
Phew! Good prevails and ends this post. I feel better now. Good night and sweet dreams. See you next week.
I am an official, fully vetted volunteer with the Indian River County Sheriff's Office (Citizen's Academy, background checks, fingerprinted, etc.). Since my expertise is photo-journalism, producing these stories is one way I give back to my community.
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