Students learn about forensic science at Bellerose Avenue

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Fifth graders from across Northport-East Northport Union Free School District’s elementary schools welcomed a special visitor from the Suffolk County Police Department on Dec. 9.

Danielle Gruttadaurio, a forensic sketch artist with the department, met with the students in the district’s Investigate Gifted and Talented program at Bellerose Avenue Elementary School. Mrs. Gruttadaurio tailored to her audience and shared certain aspects of her job. Mainly, she explained that she is involved in facial recognition and reconstruction. “Anything to identify the human face,” she said. 

To help the students understand the process involved in doing so, she selected several students to partake in a role-playing experiment involving a police officer, detective, perpetrator or “bad girl” and victim. “We work together. Everything is about teamwork,” she said. 

In the scenario, the victim’s cell phone was stolen while shopping at the mall and he had to describe the physical characteristics of the “bad girl” to Mrs. Gruttadaurio. But this time around, she passed the baton over to the students who tried to draw the perpetrator’s face based on the victim’s description. During which she stressed the important role that victim’s play in catching “bad guys.” “Imagine drawing someone that you’ve only seen for a split moment,” she said. 

Brianne Furstein, one of the program’s facilitator, said that the district’s students have been studying forensic science this semester and “really enjoyed” the presentation.