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Getting in on the clues

POSTED: February 27, 2014 7:53 p.m.
Photo by Paul Floeckher/

Sgt. Ramsey Mannon helps ECSO Explorers locate evidence during the group’s crime scene exercise. "Blood" is visible on the rocks.

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A group of local high school students got an up-close look Tuesday at how to investigate a crime scene.

It was a hands-on exercise for the 10 teenagers in the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office’s Explorers post, an organization for students interested in pursuing law enforcement careers.

“They get a good glimpse of what we do, from kind of the inside-out,” said ECSO Explorers advisor Sgt. Ramsey Mannon. “It just gives them a different outlook that most kids don’t get in a career field.”

The exercise culminated the crime-scene training the Explorers received at their three previous meetings. The group, open to ages 14-20, meets every other Tuesday night.

“They did well” in the exercise, Mannon said. “We have to be reminded that these aren’t deputies — they’re young’uns. We give them real bare-bones, basic training. Our goal is to let them learn.”

The “crime scene” was set up at the Goshen Public Safety Station, with a drag dummy serving as a “shooting victim.” The “evidence” nearby included a handgun, shell casings, a table with two drinks sitting on it, and two chairs, one of them overturned.

Deputies drove the Explorers to the scene in patrol cars. That added a bit of realism right from the start, according to Explorer Pricilla Cartwright, a home-schooled sophomore.

“We got to ride in the cars. That was fun,” she said with a laugh. “They were trying to make it seem as real as possible, so I think that’s cool, and just trying to figure out what ‘happened.’”

The Explorers arrived in three different teams, with each having different responsibilities such as checking on the “victim,” taping off the scene, locating and marking evidence, and collecting and documenting the evidence.

Kayla Christmas, a sophomore at Effingham County High School, was on the first team to arrive at the scene. She located one of the shell casings, on the ground behind the back of the “victim.”

Christmas described the crime scene exercise as “really interesting” and “definitely the most fun” activity so far in her first year in Explorers. Other lessons have included the proper techniques for taking latent fingerprints and handcuffing a suspect, and the dangers of drunk driving by using goggles that simulate being under the influence.

“When we did the handcuffing, it’s just us right there,” Christmas said. “This actually had evidence to look at. It’s definitely more realistic.”

The Explorers assist ECSO deputies at local events, such as helping with traffic control at parades and security at the Effingham County Fair. The students also receive training they can use in everyday life, like administering first aid or CPR or knowing what to do at the scene of a car crash.

“If they roll up on a crash as a civilian,” Mannon said, “they’ll know how to tend to somebody — just basic hands-on to keep them still, how to treat for shock, bleeding, those kind of things.”

The majority of Explorers participants do not continue on to a career in law enforcement, Mannon said, but a number of them are working in the field. Program graduates include a current Port Wentworth police officer, a state trooper in Clarke County, and two military police officers — one at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico and one serving in Afghanistan.

“It’s gratifying” to offer the program, Mannon said, “particularly years later when you talk to them and they have kids of their own, or some of them that are in law enforcement full-time now come back and say, ‘I really enjoyed the program and it helped me see whether I wanted to do it or not.’”

About the Explorers
For more information about the Explorers post, visit www.effinghamsheriff.org/divisions/exploring. Or call Sgt. Ramsey Mannon or Deputy Heather Schafer at 754-3449, ext. 4221.

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