TBI course gives students first-hand look at solving murder cases

(Photo: WKRN)

BELL BUCKLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – This week, 19 college students from across Tennessee are working in Bell Buckle to solve murder scenarios spread across three crime scenes.

The exercise is part of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s Criminal Justice Academy, an annual training program that offers hand-on-training for college students with an interest in criminal justice and forensics science.

The students live on campus at the Tennessee Fire Service and Codes Enforcement Academy in Bell Buckle.

“It’s a crash course, hands-on chance, for students to get an idea of some of the aspects that go into investigating crime scenes, “ TBI Public Information Officer Susan Niland said. “They have some classroom instruction from agents, take part in judgmental shooting and investigate set up crime scenes.”

(Photo: WKRN)

In one of the scenarios, students are processing two crime scenes in a home with at least two people dead. They only know a little bit of information about what first responders were told happened.

Tessa Stevenson is a junior at Milligan College. She has a double major in political science and psychology with double minors in international studies and legal studies.

“I got set up with a tour last summer and then just looking through their web page I saw they have internships and different academies you can attend,” Stevenson said. “I have learned so much at the academy, like photography and how to measure things.”

She continued, “You think you know how to do it because you see it on TV, but when you put it into practice it’s so detailed.”

(Photo: WKRN)

Tyler Yoder is a senior at Bryan College studying criminal justice. He also has a bond to the TBI through his father who is a special agent.

“We have only been out here a few hours,” Yoder said. “I can only imagine being out here a lot longer than this because there is a lot to it. It is just a shock, really.”

After the students gather all the evidence they think is relevant they will spend Thursday preparing a presentation to explain their findings and theory of the crime.

Following the presentation, they will graduate the program. The students attend the academy from colleges across the country, though most are from Tennessee originally.

There is also an emphasis on promoting diversity among the group of 19 students. The goal is to encourage the students who have an ongoing interest in working for the TBI to have a continued relationship with the agency.

There are two agents in basic criminal investigation school who are training to be TBI special agents who attended the CJA.

Click here for more information about the TBI’s Criminal Justice Academy.