LAS VEGAS — A kicked-in door. A room with missing jewelry. A handprint on the window.
It's only a scenario, but the people piecing these clues together aren't visiting Las Vegas' newest "escape room." They're Soldiers with the 137th Military Police Detachment learning the basics of military police investigations during training held Sunday at the Henderson Armory.
"This is our main job, other than being a Soldier, of course," said Staff Sgt. Christina Dorsey, section sergeant with 137th MPs. "We're also military police, but on top of that investigators — detective-level work. We have a certain purview that they need to know. This is training us for any upcoming deployment, anything real world."
Dorsey has completed the school for military police investigators, and she uses her knowledge to train Soldiers who've yet to attend the course. Military police investigators need to know how to photograph a room. One good shot is "better than three of the same thing," Dorsey tells her Soldiers. They also learn how to lift fingerprints. Dorsey advises using a "twirling motion" to apply the powder.
Spc. Jose Gamino, a military police investigator with 137th MPs, listens carefully before dusting a Coke can for fingerprints. There are discussions of how much powder to use and excitement when the powder reveals fingerprint ridge lines. After carefully applying tape over the powder, Gamino pulls off a print.
"I definitely enjoyed the hands-on part," said Gamino. "It's a lot better than sitting down and going through Power Points. You can learn from your mistakes."
After the Coke can, Gamino dusts and tapes a handprint left on a window. His partner, Spc. Johnathan Galvin, also a 137th military police investigator, uses a camera to document the crime scene and steps taken by the investigators.
"Everything is evidence," said Sgt. Anthony Thomas, military police investigator with 137th MPs. "It's not just a process you follow for the Army."
There is plenty of process, however. The crime scene, the evidence and the steps taken by investigators must be documented. Paperwork isn't glamorous, but it's part of police work. Evidence now in hand, Gamino and Galvin conduct a mock interview with the suspect.
"When it comes to crimes like this, you don't have a suspect on site," said Dorsey. "It's up to us to get the information and have that stuff so we can actually charge somebody with it."