CSI: Peru is not a new television show, but a Girl Scout event

PERU Wendy Silverman saw disappointment as an opportunity. When cadettes of Peru Girl Scout Troop 4270 couldnt attend a criminal science investigation (CSI) program downstate because it was scheduled during a school week, she encouraged the girls to organize and host their own CSI program. The five cadette members Carah Powell, Natasha Lindor, Brianna Pena, Alyssa Bennett and Ellen Silverman rose to the challenge. With the assistance of Ms. Silverman, who serves as troop co-leader, and fellow co-leader Amy Powell, CSI: Peru became a reality. Ninety cadettes and junior Girl Scouts from 15 troops in the Northeastern New York Council attended the Feb. 23 event at the Peru Community Church Fellowship Center, which featured several investigation stations. Scouts rotated between six stations in all, which include Television Court Case and Snack, Forensic and DNA Testing, Fingerprinting, Self Defense and Safety Tips, K9 Unit, and Missing Child Prevention Cards. Ms. Silverman hosted the television court case station while Michele Snyder, a professor of biology at Clinton Community College, provided hands-on instruction in forensics and DNA. Under Ms. Snyders direction, pairs of Girl Scouts worked together to take a sample of DNA from a banana. Ms. Snyder explained the process of collecting DNA is similar, whether the sample is from a plant, animal, blood, tissue or saliva. The process involved disrupting the cellular wall and membrane by adding salt and water and blending it, straining it, then adding a small amount of soap. Pouring an equal amount of ethanol to form a layer on top of the banana solution caused the DNA to form at the interface of the two layers. The girls used a DNA extraction tool, also known as a paper clip, to extract the strings of DNA. Next, they learned how the DNA is sent off to a lab and registered. Finally, they used registered DNA fingerprinting to determine which of two suspects were guilty in an imaginary drug trafficking case. At the fingerprinting station, state police officer Jim Butzer showed the scouts paperwork from an actual local car theft case solved by collecting fingerprints. The thief had left a glass and CD case in the stolen car. By collecting fingerprints off the items, the thief was positively identified. It is not as easy as you might think, he commented. Under his guidance, he instructed the girls in the process of collecting fingerprints. Each scout had the opportunity to collect a fingerprint off of a CD case and glass. State police officer Mike Pena instructed the scouts in basic safety tips and self-defense. He reviewed bicycle safety and instructed them in proactive steps to avoid becoming a victim of an attacker. Should they find themselves confronted by an attacker, he gave them some self-defense moves to help them physically break free. He also instructed them to yell fire repeatedly, insisting data shows this gains more attention and a more immediate response than yelling help. State police officer Matt Ross and his canine partner Kelley, a drug dog, and state police officer Ishmael Ramos and his canine partner, Rob, a bomb dog, educated and entertained the scouts. They shared a brief history of the state police canine unit and how the officers and their dogs are trained. Ammunition used in bomb-making was planted in the room, and the scouts observed Rob in action. At the command, find the bomb, from officer Ramos, Rob sniffed methodically until he found it. He sat attentively looking at officer Ramos, his signal he had found the bomb, and waited patiently for his reward a tossed tennis ball. Most entertaining was when a volunteer state police officer dressed in a padded suit posed as an escaping criminal and officer Ross commanded Kelley to take him down. Kelley easily threw him to the ground repeatedly. During the event, scouts also had the opportunity to take home a potentially lifesaving piece of information to give to their families. Clinton County Sheriffs Department Sgt. Wade Wood ran the missing child prevention cards station where he instructed the youths in filling out forms and took their photographs and fingerprints to make them missing child prevention cards.

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