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Peabody Police CSI program offered for 4th year

Posted by Bella Travaglini  August 25, 2010 10:53 AM

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A group of Peabody teens this week is contemplating whether or not a career in fighting crime may be for them.

This is the fourth year that Peabody police are offering the week-long, award winning CSI Teen Program, a forensic science workshop where kids learn hands-on how to investigate crime. It is the brainchild of Peabody Lt. Richard Callahan, who was inspired by the hit TV show, not so much to mimic it, but to clarify what police work is really about, said juvenile Officer Mario Alves. The program is offered through the Peabody Recreation Department and conducted by a team of Peabody Police officers with support from the State Police, the Northeast Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council, Salem Police and District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett.

“We want to show the kids that police are here to help people and it’s not all like it appears on TV,” said Alves, “although the investigative part shown on television is somewhat accurate.”

Police arrange for a variety of activities for the kids ranging from computer forensics to a lecture from the department’s animal control officer. The group yesterday was taught how to find fingerprints, lift and match them up using a computer database, said Alves. On Monday, a State Police arson squad and K-9 dog demonstrated how the team detects accelerants used in fires, while a bomb squad planted potentially explosive devices for the team to find, said Callahan. The kids also competed in an obstacle course overseen by NEMLEC officers suited up in S.W.A.T. team gear, said Det. Peter Olson, who contributes to the program.

On Thursday, police will set up three crime scenes at Brooksby Farm where kids will conduct their own investigations, said Alves. Culminating the week on Friday is a tour of the Essex County Correctional Facility in Middleton, when kids will hear from prisoners who will tell their tales.

“The jail visit is based on the series, “Scared Straight,” said Alves.

Alexander Marcus, 13, who will be an 8th grader this fall at Higgins Middle School, is participating in the program for the second year. His dad, Doug Marcus, is a Peabody Police detective. While Alexander isn’t thinking of a career in law enforcement right now, he enjoys learning more about what his dad does for work, he said.

“I really recommend this program because it’s fun,” said Marcus. “Not everybody gets to tour the police station and jail."

The CSI program has been offered since 2006 for $50 through the Peabody Recreation Department. It is limited to 25 kids ages 11 - 15 every summer and is conducted by Callahan, Alves and Officer Manny Costa with input from other Peabody officers and regional agencies. In 2007, the program received the Innovative Program Award from the Massachusetts Recreation and Park Association, said Jennifer Davis, Peabody Recreation Program supervisor. Attendance is split between girls and boys and there is a wait list every summer, said Davis.

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