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Local Officers Hope the Dead Tell Tales

December 02, 2008
LAFAYETTE - Law enforcement officers step into the unknown and often undesirable situations every day. "As first responders we're always the first ones there to access the situation," said Officer Blair Wilson with the Westminster Police Department. On Thursday, 14 officers, including two sergeants, stepped into a situation none had faced before - a cadaver class. "I've never been to something like this before," said rookie Officer Robert Aron. "I'm not sure what to expect." "We call it death investigations for law enforcement, but we should probably call it CSI Exempla," said program coordinator Linda Dunn. Exempla Good Samaritan and Exempla Lutheran Medical Centers launched the cadaver program for law enforcement officers nine months ago. "They're going to be able to put a more medical slant on what they are doing and have a more detailed perspective on what they are looking for," said Dunn. The program consists of two hours of lecture and two hours of lab work. "Other than dissecting a frog in the eighth grade, I've never held any body part," said Officer Jeff Stovall. The Westminster Police Department is the first to go through the class at Good Samaritan. The cadaver the officers worked with on Thursday came from the Colorado Anatomical Board; it's a human cadaver donated to science. The body is prepared and neatly dissected before the officers enter the room. The cadaver's head, hands and feet are covered to protect their identity. The only thing the officers know is the sex of the person laying before them. "I was thinking it was going to be real gory and bloody," said Stovall of the body, "but it's not." The skin was so dehydrated that one student described it as looking like a paper bag. A fourth-year medical student is the instructor of the cadaver class, taking students through each part of the body. And allowing them to examine and touch organs or ask questions. "I can't believe how amazing the human body is," said Stovall. The body used in the class will be used as a learning tool for other classes. Once Good Samaritan is done with it, it will go back to the Anatomical Board where a service will be held for the donor. For more information, call 303-724-2410. (Copyright KUSA*TV. All rights reserved.)