Exhibits of the National Law Enforcement Museum: Take the Case



Artist's rendering of the Take the Case exhibit.
Artist's rendering of the Forensics Lab exhibit.

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Exhibits of the National Law Enforcement Museum: Take the Case

In Take the Case, visitors follow a trail of evidence from real crimes to “solve” one of three cases, working their way from the crime scene to the arrest and finally the trial.  As they track their case, visitors learn about the work of detectives and how they coordinate with forensic scientists, medical examiners, and prosecuting attorneys to solve a crime.

The exhibit’s three crime scenes are presented as miniature dioramas. After selecting one of the cases and examining the crime scene, visitors move into Forensics.  This area is composed of five forensic stations and a medical examiner’s office.  At the stations, visitors learn about how scientists analyze different types of evidence, including fingerprints; trace evidence; DNA; toxic chemicals and substances; and firearms, toolmarks, and impressions.  They can also read case file information on their chosen crime. 

Next, visitors pass through a threshold dividing Forensics from the more traditional detecting methods of Witness and Interrogation.  The Witness area includes information on witnesses, as well as information on the importance of M.O. (modus operandi), or using the characteristic way in which someone commits a crime to make connections between cases, in detective work.  Interrogation offers visitors a chance to learn about the techniques used during suspect questioning and to see the techniques in practice.

Having gathered their evidence from the forensic stations, Witness, M.O., and Interrogation, visitors approach The Arrest wall to find out whether their solution to the case meshes with what really happened.

After solving their case, visitors approach the Detective Flowchart.  Arrayed before them, in two shallow glass display cases, is a flowchart made up of incident reports, closed circuit TV (CCTV) video, crime scene photographs, forensic reports, and trial transcripts from one case. The flowchart shows the progression of the case, emphasizing the work done post-arrest and the large team devoted to the case, including the role of the U.S. Attorney’s office throughout the investigation, trial, and appeals.  Flip books with flowcharts related to the other two cases will also be available. 

On the opposite wall, an oversized vertical flipbook contains information about other investigative fields, such as blood spatter (using bloodstain patterns to learn clues about the events that caused the bleeding), questioned documents, criminal profiling, or forensic anthropology, botany, entomology, or accounting.

Next month: Spotlight on Dial 911


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