NEWS | Nov. 20, 2017

NCIS hosts forensic training for base and local law enforcement

By Airman 1st Class Allison Payne Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service at Joint Base Charleston hosted forensic and human remains recovery training for base, local law enforcement and local county coroner offices at JB Charleston - Weapons Station, South Carolina, Nov. 14, 2017.

The training, the first of its kind to be offered by the base NCIS, was a body recovery course.

“NCIS hasn’t hosted a body recovery clandestine grave training, otherwise known as a secret grave, in Charleston,” said Dana Shutt, NCIS Resident Agency Charleston supervisory special agent. “This is the first joint training we’ve put on with all of the agencies having jurisdiction on JB Charleston.”

The training began with a classroom lesson highlighting the steps to properly and carefully recover human remains. Those participating then teamed up and travelled to the burial site to begin the body recovery process.

“I wanted them to experience what happens behind the scenes on our end, as we collect evidence and give them an opportunity they may not have in their career fields,” said Shutt. “Since all of these agencies have jurisdiction for the joint base, it’s important for them to train together and become familiar with one another because one day they may end up working on the same case.”

Members learned the important steps to document a clandestine grave site. They reviewed how to locate, examine, evaluate, recover, photograph, sketch and process a crime scene.

“The training taught me some valuable information such as the importance entomology plays in human remains recovery and the role each person involved is responsible for,” said Police Detective Simon Andrews, North Charleston Police Department Persons Crime Unit. “I was happy for the opportunity we were given and hope to bring more of our team if the course is offered another time.”

Participants included the 628th Security Forces Squadron, Air Force Office of Special Investigations, North Charleston Police Department, Charleston County Sheriff’s Office, Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office, Goose Creek Police Department, Hanahan Police Department, Berkley County Coroner’s Office, and South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

“We worked on this project together with NCIS,” said Petty Officer First Class Margaret Clay, 628th Security Forces Squadron master-at-arms. “We acquired three deceased animals and buried them in different ways and locations. The teams were responsible for locating the burial sites and recovering the remains. They wore personal protective equipment to protect themselves from becoming contaminated, and to prevent crime scene contamination.

Shutt said depending on the feedback from this training, additional training courses may be planned for the future. She said she would like to work with local law enforcement again due to the success of this event.

“Overall, we want to make sure we’re all working in partnership with each other and having training evolutions such as this definitely brings everyone together,” said Shutt. “A lot of these guys had never met so it was also a great opportunity for them to network and exchange business cards after seeing what each member can do for one another.”