For the first time, Orleans/Niagara BOCES will send it's own CSI student team to the national championships.
16-year-old junior Austin Briley, 18-year-old junior Kasey Taylor, and 18-year-old senior Claudia Wrate are state champions in the SkillsUSA Crime Scene Investigation program.
"It's absolutely amazing," said Wrate, the team's Evidence Collector and Lead Investigator. "We go on field trips once a month, we have guest speakers, we have all of our certifications: NARCAN certification, CPR, mandated reporter. We do absolutely everything and anything."
After winning the regional competition at Alfred State, the team tested their skills against 26 other teams at the state level in Syracuse.
"We thought we didn't do that great because it was only 20 minutes long, and we really had to hustle," Taylor said, the team's Photographer. "They called 3rd place, they called 2nd place, and we were holding our hands, but we let go after 2nd place. Then they called us and we jumped up and screamed and went on stage. It was awesome."
Wrate is headed to Hilbert College in the fall to study Forensic Science and Crime Scene Investigation.
Taylor wants to study criminal justice for 2 years when she graduates high school, before trying to get into the air force.
And Briley says she'd like to be a negotiator within the security and law enforcement field after college.
But first, they have a national championship to win in Louisville, Kentucky on June 25th.
Each team is given a time limit to examine a fictional crime scene; they must then collect and log evidence, take effective photographs of the scene-- and create a detailed sketch.
"These three girls, they put in a lot of time," said Jess Traver, who teaches Security and Law Enforcement at BOCES. "They've really been focused, they want to work together, they take care of each other, and they want to win."
The team has also received plenty of real-world guidance and support from local law enforcement groups across Western New York.
"We have Niagara Sheriff's Department that help us all the time, state troopers came out and helped us with a car accident," said Briley, who runs Measurements and acts as Sketch Artist for the team. "Buffalo Homicide [has been] teaching us how to work with dead bodies and how to measure."
But that experience goes beyond the national tournament, said Lieutenant Locicero, who works in Crime Scene Investigation with the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office. Programs like these have real, lasting impacts that could jump-start a young career.
"It's not just about collecting the evidence and everything,” Locicero said.”You want to put that guy away who did this, and in order to find him, you've got to be meticulous in collecting the blood and the hair and the fibers and the DNA… "We're old guys, and a lot of us are retiring, so the new guys coming up they have to step up to the plate. This is a huge jumping stone for them. Huge."
Along with the CSI team, BOCES will also be sending ten other students to compete in the national championships of six other educational disciplines:
-Noah Bennett: Automated Manufacturing Technology – Team A
-Tristan Kam: Automated Manufacturing Technology – Team A
-Jacob Leising: Automated Manufacturing Technology – Team A
-BettyLou Webb: Basic Health Care
-Nicholas Nowicki: Collision Repair
-Colt Dold: Engine Tech/Design Team
-Jared Feathers: Engine Tech/Design Team
-Ross Simpson: Engine Tech/Design Team
-Gavin Dietz: Welding
-Destiny Satkowski: Health Occupation Pro