Law enforcement officers from 10 North Carolina agencies got hands-on training in the discovery and recovery of buried bodies Wednesday, Oct. 4, and Thursday, Oct. 5, during a special N.C. Justice Academy training course offered by Western Carolina University’s forensic anthropology program.
The course is part of Western’s efforts to develop a new outdoor forensic research facility that will be only the second of its kind in the nation.
Officers spent two days working in an outdoor environment near campus practicing the skills necessary for the proper recovery of bodies from accidents or crime scenes. The officers were working with plastic replicas, not real body parts, as they might do when the university’s forensics research facility opens later this year.
The facility, part of WCU ‘s growing academic programs in forensic anthropology and forensic science, will help prepare students for careers in forensics, enhance the skills of law enforcement officials statewide, and assist local police and sheriff’s departments with crime scene investigations. Patterned after a similar facility at the University of Tennessee, Western’s forensic research station is designed to help scientists determine how the unique geography and climate of the Western North Carolina mountains influence postmortem decay.
Law enforcement agencies participating in the training session were the Asheville Police Department, Goldsboro Police Department, Henderson County Sheriff’s Department, Hendersonville Police Department, Macon County Sheriff’s Department, Marion Police Department, Morganton Department of Public Safety, New Hanover County Sheriff’s Department, Shelby Police Department and Waynesville Police Department.
For more information about the forensic anthropology program, contact John Williams at (828) 227-2430.