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UMTV: Black College CSI Class


Claflin University is a historically black college, but it's not stuck in the past. The school has partnered with the FBI to prepare students for one of the hottest careers on TV ... and in real life. Kim Riemland has the story.


(Locator: Orangeburg, South Carolina)

"7 feet, 5 inches."

"... you can't tell it's there&ellipsis;"

"... kill their other victim&ellipsis;

"... may be blood..."

"When you can start seeing the print, stop supergluing."

Leslie Johnson, Claflin University Student: "Any and everywhere you step or sit is where evidence can be found."

An FBI agent is in the middle of a crime scene investigation with students at United Methodist related-Claflin University in South Carolina.

Leslie Johnson, Claflin University Student: "They gave us insight into what an FBI agent actually does on an everyday basis."

Kendall Williams, Claflin University Student: "I think I was most fascinated with the fingerprint evidence."

FBI agent: "It cleans up all the excess powder off. I got three fingerprints on there."

... the importance of photographs...

Leslie Johnson, Claflin University Student: "One of the things I took part in was photography."

... and the gathering of DNA evidence.

FBI agent: "If you try to pick up what's bone and what's not, it's going to be hard."

Dr. Omar Bagasra urged the university to offer this hands-on training. He wanted his students at this historically black college to have the opportunities you might expect from larger institutions.

Dr. Omar Bagasra, Claflin University: "We are a very small school. By the grace of God we have state of the art technology, we have state of the art teachers. So I would tell all minority schools get on the board, get on the wagon because our people need that.

These FBI agents create crime scenes from actual cases and help the students figure out the crime, using FBI techniques.

FBI Agent: "DNA is first. Everything else is second."

They do emphasize though&ellipsis;it's not like what you see on TV.

Leslie Johnson, Claflin University Student: "I love CSI, but it's Hollywood."

A classroom is littered with clues for students to analyze.

FBI Agent: "We have various clothing that has mock blood on it; bottles and Coke cans that have fingerprints on it; animal bones out so they can see those bones."

Just like the TV show ... but not.

FBI Agent: "On CSI they solve the case in an hour. In true life that's not usually the way it works."


Claflin University is building a forensic center that will be used by students, as well as members of law enforcement. The curriculum will include DNA, ballistic, drug and digital finger printing analysis.

For more information, you can contact Professor Omar Bagasra at 803-535-5253 or [email protected].

Posted: May 13, 2009

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