Fifth-graders at Vilonia Middle School were introduced to some real crime-solving tools Friday by a member of the Faulkner County Sheriff‘s Office.
Investigator David Hall, who has been with FCSO for more than 11 years, spent about a half-hour Friday afternoon showing the students fingerprint equipment, testing for gunshot residue, explaining about DNA and fielding questions. Pulling items such as gloves, cotton swabs and dusting residue out of a box, he asked students to sound off what they believed to be his most important crime solving tool.
"It’s a pen," he said. "I have to write everything down."
An investigator for the past three years, Hall told the students the sheriff’s office does not have the equipment seen on the popular television show "CSI" and crimes are generally not solved in a 60-minute time frame.
"We just aren’t that lucky," he said. "But, there are some tests we can do in the office."
A majority of the testing, he said, must be sent to the state Crime Lab in Little Rock. That testing, he said, may take several weeks to be completed due to the state lab servicing law enforcement agencies in 75 counties.
"I sent off two Q-tips swabs this morning, concerning a burglary, and I don’t expect to hear back from them for two or three months," he said.
Students had many questions for the crime fighter. What is the weirdest place you have found a criminal, one asked. Hall detailed a search that led to his legs being cut by briers. Then, he said, he was standing in the kitchen of the suspects’ house talking when he heard a "Kaboom."
"The suspect fell out of the attic and hit the floor," Hall told the students.
One student wanted to know Hall’s hardest test. That, he said, emphatically had to do with the death of a baby that was found dead after being accidentally "caught" in venetian blinds.
The youngsters also wanted to know about Hall’s shortest investigation. That, he said, would be involving credit card fraud. When asked about his most unusual case, he pondered for a few minutes. Then, he shared one that had to do with a 13-year-old who decided to run away but kept calling law enforcement because he "didn’t want us to worry."
The students continued with their grilling. The most common crime? Stealing, Hall said.
In conclusion, students also asked Hall about his success rate. He told the students that he averages handling about 213 cases per year with a 38 percent success rate.
"Twenty-five percent is about average," he offered.
Students asked Hall if he liked being a "mystery solver" and if his job was hard and how he chose his career path.
"I love my job," he said, adding that his job would be hard if he didn’t love it.
Students listened intently as he talked briefly about the character and mindset of criminals.
"If criminals were smart, I wouldn’t have a job," he added.
As far as his career, he said, "When I was a young man, I had two dreams. I wanted to be a soldier and a cop."
Prior to serving with the sheriff’s office, he told students that he was a member of the U.S. Army for 20 years.
The visit was in conjunction with a reading unit involving mysteries, according to teacher Carol Edwards.