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CSI craze prompts mystery-solving program

Gilford Det. Christopher Jacques and Detective/Sergeant Kristian Kelley prep for a tire impression during the first session of “CSI with the Gilford Police” outside the library. (Lauren Tiner) (click for larger version)
April 06, 2011
Residents learned to fight crime, or at least solve a real life mystery, during a new two-part program, "CSI with the Gilford Police," held at the Gilford Public Library this past month.

Now that spring has arrived, Gilford Librarian Betty Tidd said she felt library goers and "CSI Miami" fans alike could use a breath of fresh air and try out a different program, courtesy of the Gilford Police Department.

Det. Jacques demonstrates how to detect a fingerprint on common materials such as a Coke can. (Lauren Tiner) (click for larger version)
"I thought this would be a fun idea to get the Police Department involved. There is also a CSI craze going on in television today. I thought it'd be a great way to bring people in," said Tidd during the first of two sessions. "I hoped it would bring in all ages, from teens to adults, across the board."

This hands-on program proved to be a hit with all ages, and brought in 70-year-old participants to seventh grade participants, who all worked together to mold and identify tire tracks and trace fingerprints on even the most persistent materials or small spaces, such as a doorknob or soda can.

During the second session last Wednesday, participants were also given more hands on experience and learned the ins and outs of a small Police Department, which in actuality requires a lot of work.

Gilford’s Det. Christopher Jacques pours a special mold mixture onto a tire print in order to make a tire impression – a method sometimes used in investigations. (Lauren Tiner) (click for larger version)
Gilford Det. Sgt. Kristian Kelley and Det. Christopher Jacques volunteered to run the show, and are driving forces behind solving crimes in town, from burglaries, to Internet scams, to sexual assault and homicide cases.

Kelley has been with the department for 12 years, and Jacques for 10 years. Both saw this program as an opportunity to inform residents on their roles within the Police Department, and to explain what it entails to be a detective dealing with a crime scene, various suspects, and even public relations.

While some large towns and cities may function a bit differently, all crimes that have occurred in Gilford, whether large or small, pass the desk of these detectives.

Participants young and old look on in delight as they detect fingerprints during a special CSI program at the library. (Lauren Tiner) (click for larger version)
"Gilford doesn't have a town crime unit, yet we have detectives and specialized training to investigate crime scenes," explained Kelley.

While the Gilford Police initially dealt with the recent murder of Roberta Miller on Country Club Road, once more severe investigations unfold, it's necessary to hand the responsibilities over to the state level.

Kelley added this is the first reported homicide since the 1940's in Gilford.

Det. Jacques of Gilford’s Police Department helps participants use different techniques to detect fingerprints during a two-part library program. (Lauren Tiner) (click for larger version)
During the first session, participants looked on eagerly as Jacques created a tire impression outside of the library, where fresh tire prints had coasted over the mud. With the right materials, snow impressions can also be made in the winter months. This practice is often done if a detective is looking to identify and seek out a certain vehicle or driver behind the wheel.

After Jacques made an impression of the tire print with a special mold material, allowing it to solidify, Kelley took professional snap shots of the print.

"It's necessary to take photos of the crime scene. It's the first thing you do before touching or moving anything or any evidence," said Kelley. "You see what you want to find at a scene. You must see the big picture."

Gilford Police also carefully prep crime scenes for other units and detect or collect evidence without walking over footprints or other marks, which may lead to further clues in the end. Crime scenes are also secured before major crime units take over, such as the Roberta Miller case. If one piece of evidence is destroyed or overlooked, it could throw off the entire case, which puts a lot of pressure on first responders.

While there is a difference in roles between the patrol officer and the detective, the officer must be well trained because they are often the first to respond to the scene.

"We investigate anything from burglaries, robberies, to assaults, and in the recent years, a lot of computer crimes. We just had 10 or 11 burglaries recently," said Kelley. "We must be multi-faceted and learn to do a lot of things. In Gilford, detectives do most of the crime work. We've found ourselves all over New Hampshire for investigations, as long as the crime happened in Gilford. We must be Jacks of all trades."

While there is a protocol for homicides, which requires towns to contact major crime units, other investigations are up to the detective's discretion – whether they need more resources to help solve a crime, including elements such as computer forensics.

Participants also learned the basics of fingerprinting during the first session, and got a hands-on experience after Jacques demonstrated different techniques. He said that fingerprinting is still a very common method, although it can have its drawbacks. Waiting for a confirmation on a fingerprint can take months, and certain materials are not always receptive to this method.

"Fingerprinting is more of a supplement to investigations. It tends not to be a large momentum of an investigation. It does work and can identify a suspect at a scene, but it's only a piece of the puzzle," said Jacques, perhaps demystifying any preconceptions of a classic method.

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