The newest members of Reading's police force are showing off their crime-solving skills, thanks to a dose of "make believe" that looks a lot like the real deal.
Beyond the police caution tape at the Berks County district attorney's forensic laboratory in Bern Township is a mock crime scene.
"Crime knows no boundaries, and we want to make every police officer effective at their job," said Sgt. Robert Johnson, of the county's forensic unit.
On Friday, 15 of the newest members of the Reading Police Department incorporated all they learned from a 32-hour evidence technician training course.
"In this type of training, and then obviously applying it to the real world, we can do that, that much better and we can do it in a professional way," said Ofc. Luiz Garcia, of the Reading Police Dept.
"They're able to dust for fingerprints like they should be, and a lot of what they're trained to do here is preserve the evidence," said Detective Albert Schade, of the county's forensic unit.
"We are putting it all together in one shot and processing crime scenes that were made for us," said Garcia.
The week-long course was sponsored and spearheaded by the Berks County District Attorney Forensic Services Unit.
"We draw from our experiences over the years, and typically what they will see out on the street as evidence techs," said Johnson.
The emphasis for this year's class is the use of photography, along with rulers and tape measure to recreate a 3D crime scene, officials said.
"Before all we could do was a two dimensional drawling. Now, we can extend those walls upward. That way, we can show different ballistics evidence, blood splatter evidence that would be on a wall," said Schade.
This type of training, officials said, will help the officers not only better serve their community but improve the way they collect evidence to prosecute criminals.
"It's a tremendous experience," said Garcia.