Homes covered in blood to train students about crime scenes

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OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The National Forensic Academy (NFA) is working with the University of Tennessee Law Enforcement Innovation Center to introduce two new customized Bloodstain Pattern Analysis (BPA) houses.

The structures were installed at the Outdoor Forensic Training Center, a seven-acre site within UT's Aroboretum in Oak Ridge, Tenn., through a partnership with the UT's Institute of Agriculture.

The two buildings were custom-designed so participants would be able to train to analyze bloodstains without the hazards related to using condemned houses. Before the new structures were introduced, program participants had to use homes that were condemned or even scheduled to be demolished.

The new buildings measure 12-feet-by-40-feet and were framed into 4 rooms in each building. Each room was designed and outfitted to represent different rooms that might appear in houses or apartments, like bathrooms, a kitchen, a living room, a bedroom, a utility room and a laundry room.

Every surface in the structures was designed so that they could be thoroughly cleaned and blood could be removed.

Before participants began work on the first exercises held in the buildings, blood was strategically placed on the walls, floors and cabinets by instructors. Participants had to identify the types of bloodstains and determine which could be used forensically to help solve the "crimes."

"Every scene should present some sort of evidence of clues that can help us put a story back together," said training consultant Dan Anselment.

Crime scene investigators from all of the country have graduated from the National Forensic Academy. The academy is part of UT's Law Enforcement Innovation Center. Director Jeff Lindsey said there is always something new to learn.

"Forensics change, science changes, folks that commit crimes get smarter and the folks that investigate crimes have to be more smart than they are," said Lindsey.

Lindsey explained time is what separates reality from television.

"The amount of time and investment of effort that it takes to have the clues that are gathered at a crime scene, analyzed and reported back; It's a much more involved approach than you see on just about any show that you see that has a crime scene in it," he said.

Anselment said the program's hands-on training has helped investigators find the truth and deliver evidence in court.