Normally, a line of yellow police tape means “Do Not Cross,” but just the opposite was true on a sunny April morning at the opening of Gannon University’s new Forensic Investigation Center (FIC).
When Bishop Lawrence Persico, Keith Taylor, Ph.D. and members of Gannon’s Criminal justice department faculty cut the tape, it was an invitation to enter a building that was transformed from an empty, former fraternity house into a hub of new technologies that will transform the way criminal justice is taught at Gannon.
Attendees at the opening of the FIC were invited into the building for tours to uncover the features that the building holds. Their first stop was a classroom visible immediately upon entering. A large screen connected to a video system dominates the room and will allow students to observe crime simulations acted out on the FIC’s third floor. On that floor is a mock apartment with a family room and bedrooms for simulations, where fabricated crimes will be created, complete with evidence being placed for collection. Strategically placed cameras throughout the floor will allow students in the first-floor classroom to observe and discuss investigative methods and adherence to maintaining a chain of custody.
Also on display for the tours was the firearms training simulator located in the FIC's lower level and a forensic laboratory with comparison microscopes for the analysis of fibers, firearms examination, fingerprints and questioned document examination, which is housed on the second floor.
"The FIC is going to be a great resource and learning center for our criminal justice students, but we also hope to make this facility a community resource that provides training for local law enforcement agencies," said Julia M. Mack, Ph.D., director of Gannon's criminal justice department.
The FIC's first students will be in the military ordnance identification course offered in July. The FIC will also host the Criminal Investigator's Camp for high school students, July 27 to Aug. 1.