Near the edge of the woods behind Greenwood Middle School sat a gold car.
Following dripping “blood” on the side of the door, young investigators found shattered glass laid scattered beneath the car window.
The clues showed the way as a group of 20 kids processed the crime scene — a single boot print leading to the woods, fingerprints on the car and DNA evidence found on leaves of brush.
Investigator Thomas Bailey taught the young crime scene detectives everything they needed to know about his job during the third day of the Goldsboro Police Department’s Gang Resistance Education and Training summer camp.
Kids ages 8 to 11 marveled over how Bailey dusted for fingerprints, swabbed for DNA evidence and took a plaster cast of the lone boot print.
Bailey carefully laid out the display to teach the kids about the department’s Crime Scene Unit and how investigators process crime scenes.
“Him and the kids were trying to find all the evidence they could with the crime,” said Cpl. Andrew Nail, with the department’s Community Police Services Division. “It’s to give them an insight on what we do on a regular basis.”
In addition to learning about the crime scene unit, campers enjoyed visiting the Goldsboro Police Department for a tour, seeing a K-9 Unit demonstration, a SWAT Team obstacle course and lessons on gang resistance throughout the free weeklong camp. On Tuesday, the officers took campers on a trip to see a Carolina Mudcats baseball game.
“That’s the whole purpose of the camp, along with getting to know us as people instead of just as police officers,” Nail said. “A lot of the kids are having a blast and saying they want to return next year.
“We had a lot of kids return this year.”
The GREAT camp is in its second year, and ran July 8 through 12 for kids ages 8 to 11. A second camp is offered July 16 through 20 for kids ages 12 to 15. The camp focuses on GREAT lessons and other fun activities teaching kids about police officers.
GREAT is a program Nail, Cpl. Dillon Fleming and Cpl. Marissa Davis teach at elementary and middle schools. The program seeks to educate students on how to resist gangs as well as valuable life skills.
“They learned primarily how to identify gangs, some myths that go along with gangs and how to recognize and stay away from it,” Nail said.
Jaelynn Tetterton, a camper traveling to Goldsboro all the way from Pitt County, said she really enjoyed the program the department is offering, especially the crime scene that Bailey set up.
“I’ve learned a lot of cool things,” Tetterton said. “I like it because I want to be a police (officer) or an FBI (agent) when I grow up or be in the military.
“I like when he (Bailey) uncovered the fingerprints and when he poured the batter (over the footprint) — I’d like to see how that turns out.”
Davis, who recently completed training to teach GREAT and will begin working with Fleming and Nail in the schools in the fall, said camps are important for kids in the summertime.
“It’s an outlet in the summertime,” Davis said. “Idle time is a time kids have to do things they’re not supposed to.
“This gives them a structure to interact with law enforcement, to see what we do day in and day out. It lets them know what we do, then they also see the fun times.”
Davis said she is looking forward to getting into the schools to teach students about gang resistance and to make an impact on their lives. She cited a previous officer who worked with the Goldsboro Police Department years ago, and how he made a difference in many people’s lives.
“Being a police officer, it’s important to interact with the children,” Davis said. “The GREAT program gives us that opportunity to interact with them through a curriculum and just to let them get to know us.
“That’s what we do in community policing — we want them to see us as people and as police officers.”
This year, Nail said the summer camp filled up within days of posting sign-up sheets. Some campers even returned, excited to work with their favorite police officers again. Garrett Archambault said seeing Nail and the other officers were one of his favorite things about the camp, which is one of the reasons he returned this year.
“My favorite thing here is him (Cpl. Nail),” Archambault said. “And I get to learn how to be a good citizen and stuff.
“My two favorite activities is probably playing kickball and playing in the gym. And I liked the K-9s. I’m probably gonna be a K-9 officer. I like dogs.”