It was an exciting day for students of Forensic Sciences (Biotechnology). An enclosed location in Leeuwarden, supplied by Nordwin College, formed the scene of the annual Praktijkoefening Plaats Incident (POPI – field training incidents on location).
In collaboration with police officers and actors of the Theatersportvereniging Noordsterren, situations that may occur in the field were played out for the students. ‘It is not a test but an extensive training: students can practice on complicated situations in an investigation in a realistic way,’ says tutor Patrick Vendermeiren.
Theatersportvereniging Noordsterren provided several actors who played a wide range of cases. For instance a fictional conversation with two fired employees of a wholesale business that are suspected of breaking and entering. The assignment for the students was to investigate the involvement of the two suspects in said crimes. The students took a piece of carpet for DNA-analysis and had to ask the interrogated employees to voluntarily provide DNA-material for comparative research.
Another case was set up at a school. While clearing out the former workshop of a colleague the head-janitor of the school had found objects that could be related to dealing in narcotics. Up to recently the workshop had been the sole work place of the assistant janitor, who was now on sick leave for an indeterminate period of time. The principal called in a private research bureau (the students) to investigate the involvement of the assistant janitor in acts of drug dealing within the school.
At a certain point in these two examples and other cases the police was called in, who also brought with them a few officers in training. This way, all parties could learn from each other. A healthy interaction and good collaboration ensued.
A happy coincidence was the fact that the police team provided a reunion with an old friend: graduate Simone van de Wal, who completed her studies of Forensic Sciences at VHL University of Applied Sciences (VHL) in 2012. ‘I’m currently doing a training as a police-expert with Politie Nederland,’ says Simone. ‘During my education in Forensic Sciences I did a lot of internships with forensic research Noord-Nederland in Assen. At that time I was extremely interested in forensic science and I learned a lot, but afterwards I took the initiative to work with the Amsterdam Police for two years.’ This is where Simone found out that the work of an officer in the street is a bit more up her alley. ‘But forensic work still interests me and the things I learned still come in very handy!’
The final part of this POPI-day was reserved for a second-year module of Private Forensic Research. Seventeen students, five police officers, seven actors and five professors all worked together on four detailed cases. Special thanks goes out to the Drachten Police, Theatersportvereniging Noordsterren and Nordwin College.