C.S.I Sacred Hearts? You bet!

Over the course of roughly seven weeks, an after-school class directed by Dr. Arnold Laanui of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) taught students how to analyze and conduct an investigation.

Students gained entry to the class on a first-come, first-served basis. The program was introduced by Britney Valoria, a graduate of Sacred Hearts Academy who majored in forensics at Chaminade University. Viloria interned for the FBI and currently works as an operational support technician.

“Arnold had pulled me aside one day and said he had a project he was thinking about and asked if I could help. He proposed the idea of introducing Sacred Hearts [to the program] since I’m a graduate.”

Viloria attended all the sessions with Laanui to assist him.

The program consisted of a series of classes held once a week after school over the course of seven weeks. Each class taught a different skill, such as sketching and mapping a crime scene.

At the end of the program, students left campus to solve a simulated crime scene from the beginning analysis to discovering the fate of the victims.

To test the group’s final skills, the students in the class collaborated with Waipahu High School for two field days.

Students had to employ teamwork and key skills from their classes to locate a piece of evidence crucial to solving the case.

On the group’s first day, students stayed at Sacred Hearts, where they interviewed “witnesses” including teachers Alex Adkins and Kevin Allen.

On the second day, students visited a crime scene on the campus of the University of Hawaii West Oahu where they processed a crime scene by sketching it, taking pictures and collecting evidence. Students later used the collected evidence to piece together the events of the crime.

Part of the simulation was digging up skeletons. While the crime scene was not real, one of the two skeletons was. Students also worked in the “bone lab,” where they had a chance to use equipment and study bones.

“It was a great experience, coming back, seeing what’s changed, seeing how these girls grow,” said Viloria. “I always love coming back. Anything to help the Sacred Hearts family.”

Since this year marked the first time Sacred Hearts participated in the program, interest level was unpredictable.

“There were too many people,” said Toni Normand, director of Student Activities. “We couldn’t have them all in one class; we had to turn some away.”

The program has been done before with Waipahu High School for three years. In the first two years of the program, Farrington was the partner school.

“This is the first year we’ve partnered with an ILH school,” said Laanui.

“The big time goal of the program was to see if we could interest high performing young ladies with a background in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in the field of law enforcement,” said Laanui. “At the same time, it’s trying to introduce into the classroom some really interesting problem-solving techniques. The kind of stuff that the FBI and FBI agents use around the world every day, which is, ‘how do we go ahead and solve some of these really complex crimes?’”

In order to do so, basic skill sets were introduced to the class. This included how to secure crime scenes, how to sketch them and how to secure evidence.

“We put a two-day, ‘whodunnit’ together, where the students actually go out and try to solve a case for the very first time with very minimal coaching,” said Laanui. “They, for the most part, operate and run the whole case like they’re real FBI agents.”

Was it successful?

“It was highly successful,” said Laanui. “Absolutely, one of the things that was really interesting, certainly, was the caliber of writing that comes out of Sacred Hearts.”

Virtually everything done in law enforcement must be documented.

The highest form of law enforcement agents includes writing affidavits, search warrants and affidavits to support arrest warrants.

“The students here did really well,” said Laanui. “They put together, as part of [the program] affidavits.”

Documentation is a key component of law enforcement. Not only must one have the skill to go ahead and investigate the crime but the crime must also be taken to court.

The big goal is to have justice dealt out in an appropriate way. The documentation of the investigation is key in making that happen.

“I enjoyed it, absolutely loved it, certainly, I knew I came to the right place,” said Laanui. “A lot of the research I’ve been conducting for the FBI clearly shows that if I can build more diverse teams, I get better outcomes. If I can attract more people of a different gender to the traditionally male dominated law enforcement environment and also entice individuals with different ethnic backgrounds.”

That, for the most part, is the hallmark of Sacred Hearts, according to Laanui.

“That kind of background, coming from a different gender, especially as well as mixed ethnicities, is exactly the kind of stuff that we need in the FBI,” continued Laanui. “I’m hoping that down the road, it might entice women to this type of exciting career.”

Sophomore Ashley Zhang was one of the student participants.

“I joined because I like it. I was very interested in the topic,” said Zhang. “I like investigating. That’s one of my dream jobs as a kid. It was really fun. I love digging up bodies.”

Freshman Christina Dang was also a participant.

“ I was interested,” said Christina. “I wanted to be in the FBI. Accomplishing my little good old self dream! It was super fun. I saw a real dead body.”

Although the field day featured a crime scene, it was only a simulation. However, two skeletons were present at the crime scene: one fake, one real.

Sacred Hearts Academy is very satisfied with the outcome of the program.

“The students came early,” said Normand. “They were so excited. Laanui was absolutely wonderful to work with. He tells us real good stories. Best field trip ever!”