CHESTER - The evidence is in, as several Green Mountain Union High School science students recently witnessed a fascinating forensic demonstration conducted by ofﬁcer Paul Larochelle of the Chester Police Department. Originally a detective for the Springﬁeld Police Department who specialized in child crimes and crime scene photography, Larochelle left this particularly intense ﬁeld after four years to pursue careers in both photography and as a newspaper editor."I was working as an ofﬁcer for Springﬁ eld PD starting in 1981," Larochelle said in a recent interview. "Four years later I got a chance to work with kids as a detective in juvenile services. The reality was though, that I worked with the adult offenders who hurt kids through sexual and physical child abuse. After a couple hundred cases over four years, I was burned out."However, after some 20 years away from the ﬁeld, Paul recently competed the police academy train-ing program and is now a full time ofﬁcer in the aforementioned Chester Police Department. And now gets to work with kids under much better circumstances.
"Chief Cloud requires that all full time Chester officers are EMT certified or better. Our volunteer ambulance squad gets to the scene as quickly as possible but probably 99 percent of the time, we are the first responders.
"Therefore, it's peace of mind for the public and us because it would be frustrating to show up and not be able to help on the medical end of things."
So how did officer Larochelle find his way to the classroom?
"I was talking to a Green Mountain student who told me she was interested in crime scene forensics. I had brought her an extra catalog I had on crime scene books, and she told me about Dr. Rice's science class, so I approached him about doing something for his students."
Armed with a briefcase full of forensic tools and years of investigative knowledge and experience, officer Larochelle walked the students through several forensic techniques designed to give a fundamental overview of the general steps involved in a crime scene investigation.
This included finger, hand and shoe prints, collecting hair samples, determining and distinguishing circumstantial, tampered and hard evidence, as well as identifying fingerprints through a cynoacrylate fuming tent.
While creating a make-shift crime scene situation with the students, Larochelle applied these various techniques in a hands-on fashion that kept the students not only interested, but also on their toes.
"I was really impressed with a couple of kids and equally impressed with the hands on method of teaching that Dr. Rice sets up for the kids.
"One student and I went back and forth on a crime scene scenario and she was matching me point for point regarding the differences between circumstantial evidence and hard evidence that proves beyond a reasonable doubt. That was a surprise.
"The class was a lot of fun and we are planning future classes based on how well this one was received by the students and it certainly helps with keeping the department's positive relationship with the students."