Sleuthing by Numbers

Carl Robinette

Thu December 5, 2013 4:26pm

Otay Ranch High School and High Tech High School students got a look into the real world of crime scene investigation Monday, perhaps for the last time as Chula Vista Crime Lab Manager Craig Ogino will be retiring within a year.
The event is called Using Math to Solve Crimes and Ogino has hosted it four consecutive years and he says he’s not sure if his predecessor will continue hosting the program after his retirement.  Ogino’s predecessor has not yet been named.
“He or she might do it, or they might not.  I can’t really say at this time,” Ogino said.
The event, hosted at the CVPD’s community room, has brought dozens of local students over the years to see how the professionals use math to calculate blood spatter, weapon trajectory and other forms of evidence.
“The reason for this is, when I went to school I knew I was going to use addition, subtraction and multiplication,” said Ogino.  “But when they started talking about geometry and trigonometry, I thought ‘I’m never going to use this.’” He laughed.  “We use it every day.  So now kids have a practical application for using advanced math.”
After a presentation on crime scene forensics, students were given the opportunity to put their math skills to the test against crime as they were presented with photos from actual homicide scenes and mock crime scenes from which they had to determine how the crime unfolded.
Some of the experiments included measuring the amount of “methamphetamine” in buckets or analysis of a blood stain to determine the angle that a drop of blood impacted a surface.  Students were asked to apply the math they already know like determining the volume of a cylinder, the diameter of sphere or the hypotenuse of a triangle.
Students who came up with right method for solving the problems and the right answers first were awarded $5 and $10 cash prizes depending on the level of difficulty.
“They all did very well,” Ogino said.  “They were all into it.  They really liked the money.”
For many of the students in attendance, criminology is a career path they have already chosen and for others it’s a learning experience.  Solving crimes and using math to solve them is a very gratifying experience, Ogino said.
It remains to be seen if the now popular event will be retired with Ogino.