What might’ve looked like a real emergency at the University of New Haven was actually an exercise for students to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom as they worked together to respond to and investigate two mock crime scenes.
April 29, 2022
Trevor Holmes ’23 recently served as an incident commander as he and his colleagues responded to and investigated a crime scene. As he responded to calls on his radio and offered guidance to other team members, he drew from what he has learned in the classroom, as well as from his real-world experience as a firefighter.
Though it might’ve looked real, the “crime scene” was actually part of a mass casualty drill at the University of New Haven. It enabled students such as Holmes to work together and gain additional hands-on experience.
“This was a great opportunity,” said Holmes, a fire science major who has served as a volunteer firefighter in Seaford, Delaware, for more than five years. “This was my first time doing this exercise at the University, and it was great to be part of this. People in multiple fields were reporting to me and working together. Putting my knowledge and experience to the test has been great.”
‘Students of all majors working together’
As part of the exercise, students across the Lee College – including those majoring in forensic science, homeland security, and criminal justice – collaborated in the response to and investigation of the mock incident.
This year’s scenario required students to respond to a mock mass shooting at a pub. In pursuit of the suspect, responders discovered a suspected meth lab, and an explosion ensued. Students responded to and processed both scenes, both staged outside South Campus Hall. Students checked for fingerprints, conducted witness interviews, analyzed the chemicals found, extinguished fires, and helped victims.
“For me, the most interesting part has been working with the criminal justice students and seeing their perspective,” said Morgan Crumrine ’22, a forensic science major. “We worked together to determine what evidence is important, first focusing on anything that could be a weapon. It’s great to see students of all majors working together.”
‘What we learn from this exercise is so critical’
Students had the support of several of their professors as they carried out their tasks. Professors asked questions and helped them apply what they’ve learned in the classroom, such as how to obtain search warrants.
“In the real world, multiple agencies respond to an event, and they must work together in harmony,” said Daniel Maxwell, MPA, a retired Madison, Conn. police officer and a distinguished lecturer of criminal justice. “To simulate something like this goes a long way, and students are getting good training. It’s a real-life experience for them, and we’re injecting our real-world expertise.”
The drill, which requires months of planning, is followed by a discussion of what worked well and what might be done differently next year. While it was canceled in 2020 and 2021 because of the pandemic, students were excited to be able to take part in the exercise this year.
“It was great to see everyone collaborating and applying what we’ve learned in the classroom,” said Jillian Fiore ’22, president of the University’s American Criminal Justice Association chapter. “The last time we had this opportunity was in 2019 when I was a first-year student, and it’s great to be back. What we learn from this exercise is so critical.”