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Riverview Elementary students solve a cookie caper

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Someday, there may just be a police detective who solved his or her first “crime” in fourth grade, thanks to one afternoon at Riverview Elementary School.

Fourth graders in Constance Will’s gifted and enhanced learners class at RVES got their first taste of crime solving Monday afternoon when Farmington police officer Shawn Scovill and school liaison officer Brianna Larson came in for a visit.

Scovill is one of the officers assigned to Riverview Elementary through the new Blue in the Schools program. Blue in the Schools puts a police officer in each of Farmington’s school buildings for at least one hour, once a week.

Monday was the start of a mystery unit in Will’s classroom. She had a few more days of content to share with her students as part of the unit, but having Scovill as a resource opened up a new kind of opportunity this year. Will asked Scovill if he could come to her classroom and do a project to serve as an introduction to the unit.

Scovill worked with Larson to come up with a hypothetical crime scenario — a cookie theft.

They took students through the basics of evidence collection, from getting witness statements and descriptions to finding footprints and getting DNA. The kids got to look at the swabs used to collect blood evidence, and they were able to look at real fingerprints on an item.

Based on the evidence put before them, the students were challenged to draw conclusions and identify a suspect. The culprit turned out to be none other than Riverview Elementary School principal Kim Grengs.

As the liaison officer in the middle schools and a member of FPD’s investigations team, Larson has worked out similar projects with older kids, but this was the first time working through a scenario with elementary students.

Scovill enjoys being a Blue in the Schools officer. The project is designed to increase safety around the school buildings, but it is also there to help kids build trust in police officers.

“I like it because we can get to know the teachers and the students and they get to know us,” Scovill said. “They see that we’re human beings first of all, and police officers second.”

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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