By Jeff Lindsey and Dan Anselment, Law Enforcement Innovation Center
The National Forensic Academy (NFA), a program of The University of Tennessee (UT) Law Enforcement Innovation Center (LEIC), reached another milestone in October 2017 with the introduction of two customized Bloodstain Pattern Analysis (BPA) houses. Through a partnership with UT’s Institute of Agriculture, these modular structures are located at the Outdoor Forensic Training Center in Oak Ridge (OFTC). The OFTC is located on a seven-acre site within UT’s Arboretum and is the scene of several NFA training events.
LEIC Training Consultant and NFA Project Lead Dan Anselment, with the hard work and assistance of Training Specialist Tim Schade, designed the two customized structures that provide NFA participants the ability to train in a controlled environment without the hazards related to the use of a condemned house. Prior to the introduction of the new structures, NFA participants had to conduct their BPA practical exercises in a house that was condemned or scheduled for demolition. As a result, NFA participants frequently had to train in less than desirable conditions.
After facing the necessity to train in the condemned houses over the course of many years, the leadership team of the NFA realized it was time to design and procure their own structures that could be dedicated to BPA practicals, and for staging crime scenes used in other NFA lessons.
Two 12-foot by 40-foot pre-fabricated buildings were purchased and delivered to the Oak Ridge site. They were then framed into four rooms in each building. Each room was then designed and outfitted to represent the different rooms found in a typical house or apartment, such as bathrooms, a kitchen, a living room, a bedroom, a utility room and a laundry room. Deliberate planning ensured that the BPA houses were configured and equipped so that the NFA could get many years of use out of the structures. Every surface be cleanable so that the blood could be thoroughly removed, and each room reset for the next NFA session as quickly as possible. Additionally, the purchase and placement of the BPA houses at the OFTC ensured that LEIC and NFA will have unhindered access to a safe and secure venue for training whenever needed.
The inaugural use of the new BPA houses happened when the current NFA session conducted their BPA practicals. Prior to the exercises, blood was strategically placed on the walls, floors, and cabinets, by NFA instructors. NFA participants were put through their paces as they had to identify the type of bloodstains present and subsequently determine which stains could be used to forensically tell the story of what had unfolded at the mock crime scene. Because of the intentional design and placement of the BPA houses, participants worked in their respective scenes while the BPA instructors were centrally located and readily accessible for consultations and exercise oversight. In their very first use, the LEIC has already been able to demonstrate the positive impact of the new BPA houses on NFA training.