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Forensic fun for Seton School seniors

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The seniors at Seton School went on an exciting field trip to the Prince William County Forensic Lab in Manassas. It was a great opportunity for students to see practical application of what they are learning in their Advanced Lab Science class that is used in real-life, crime-solving situations.

The students had the chance to talk to police officers about how they solve crimes using physical evidence. The officers explained that it is not just the forensic unit, police or detectives that solve the crime but everyone working together. Prince William County Police Officer Eric Toto said, “Not one person is responsible for solving a crime. If you don’t put in the team effort you’re not going to win.” This is striking because it shows that these officers are not as interested in getting credit for solving the case but, more importantly, getting criminals off the street.

In the lab, students were shown different rooms containing tools they use to examine physical evidence at a crime scene. One room was dedicated to photography, and another focused on fingerprint and DNA analysis. It was amazing to see the numerous techniques used to get one single fingerprint from a piece of evidence. The officer used chemicals, powders or lasers to get an image of a fingerprint to analyze and enter into their system.

“I found it very informative because this is actually what I want to do,” said Seton student Alana Compton. Many of the students were inspired to consider forensic science as a career after seeing the effect it has on the community, and how important it is for arresting criminals. Others were turned off by the gruesome details of the work.

“I enjoyed learning about how they solved the crimes but I would not want to do it because it’s too scary,” said Ana Gasser. Though all the students appreciated the science behind the forensics, some would not want to take part in it, which is why the officers who do are so important. Not everyone is made for this type of work.

By exploring the lab and learning about forensic analysis, the students gained a great deal of respect for the criminal justice system. It is hard to imagine how much behind-the-scenes work goes into keeping Prince William County safe. Meeting the officers responsible for solving crime and taking criminals off the streets gave the seniors a glimpse into a local, real-word “Forensic Files.”

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018