Of all the displays at the Restore Innocence event in Denver last Saturday, I was partial to the presentation by the FBI’s Evidence Response Team. I posed for a photo with a plastic skeleton and showed the agents that I was wearing a t-shirt from the National Forensic Academy in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
I tried my hand at scooping a sample of white powder into an evidence jar. The items were inside a portable plastic pyramid that can be quickly set up at a crime scene. When I was enrolled in the FBI Citizens Academy, Rick Lambert, the former Special Agent in Charge of the Knoxville Division, gave a presentation to my class on his role in the anthrax investigation of 2001. He and I also discussed it during our 2010 radio interview.
My flight home was that same afternoon. At the Denver airport, I placed all my pocket contents in the bins with my shoes, jacket and computer bag. I stepped into the full-body scanner and was surprised when the TSA officer asked to pat my shoulder blade. I glanced at the screen and saw a highlighted square on the area that represented my back. The officer felt the area between my shoulder blades and sent me on my way. I wondered if I had somehow picked up some metallic residue at the football stadium or at lunch.
It wasn’t until I got home that I figured it out. At the airport, I was wearing the same thing I had on that morning: a collared shirt over my National Forensic Academy t-shirt. The full-body scanner must have seen through my outer shirt and registered the images of the skull and pistol on the t-shirt underneath.