Micayla Lane began Wednesday morning at a mock crime scene, dusting empty bottles and cans for fingerprints.

Lane, a junior-to-be at Bellevue East, was one of 50 participants in the Omaha Police Department’s CSI Summer Camp. The camp gives high school students the chance to work with the department’s forensic unit for a day and learn what investigators do in the field.

“I think it’s important to have,” Police Lt. Charles Ott said of the camp. “What the CSI unit does is very important to the department’s success in investigating all sorts of crimes. ... Also, hopefully, it puts things in perspective because what they see on TV isn’t necessarily how things happen.”

Police Officer Ruben Soto said the inspiration for Wednesday’s camp came from such popular TV shows as “CSI” and “NCIS.”

“The students that we have here, they basically get everything off what they’re watching, what their parents are talking about,” Soto said. “It seemed like there was an interest, especially with the younger crowd, between reality and fiction.”


Rees Wing, 14, left, inspects an empty water bottle with William Henningsen, the Omaha Police Department's forensic manager,  at the Omaha Police Department's CSI Summer Camp on Wednesday.

Wednesday’s camp activities began with casting and comparing shoe impressions and a fingerprint dusting exercise in which students used fingerprint powder to dust empty pop and water bottles for fingerprints.

The camp of 50 then broke into three smaller groups and rotated among three stations.

The first included documenting and inspecting mock crime scene evidence.

The second gave students a lesson on fingerprint science and had students using exercises to mark details in prints they obtained earlier in the day through a magnifying glass.

Lastly, students worked with 3D laser scanners, which are commonly used for forensic mapping at vehicle crash scenes.

Soto said enrollment for the camp, which usually tops out at 30, closed in less than a day. However, the department reopened enrollment and expanded this year’s camp to 50 students.

Soto said department officials are considering holding a similar camp for adults.

“We’ve had a lot of interest from parents,” he said.

Lane, a first-time camp attendee, said the experience gave her a chance to think about potential job opportunities after high school.

“I really like it, especially because it gives me an open mind on what I want to do when I grow up,” she said. “I am going into my junior year of high school, so I feel like it’s time for me to get on track with figuring out what I want to do with my future.”

Prior to attending the camp, Lane said, she had considered a career in law enforcement. Talking with officers Wednesday piqued her interest in looking at fire and police training programs. When asked if she had a dream job, Lane said one came to mind: “I feel like CSI could be a big interest.”

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