This archived article was written by: Shadayah Jones
USU Eastern criminal justice students witnessed real crime scene investigations at the State Crime Lab and toured a 100-year old prison in Idaho as part of two field trips in April.
On April 2, Dr. Richard Walton, associate professor of criminal justice took six students from his Crime Scene Processing class and field experience class to Salt Lake City to visit the State Crime Lab at the Bureau of Forensics Services.
The Utah Bureau of Forensic Services Laboratory System is designed to assist law enforcement and prosecutors in analyzing evidence taken from crime scenes in Utah. They deal with homicides, sexual assaults, drug identification, photography, fingerprints, trace evidence, firearms and tool marks. The laboratory system uses state-of-the-art technology and equipment in the analysis of evidence.
On their trip, the students were given a guided tour by Forensic Specialist Michelle Harward and demonstrations of hands on techniques used to process evidence in the crime lab In Walton’s crime scene processing class, students learn about the different techniques, but due to limited amount of time, they are not able to cover and experience everything. When going to the crime lab, students were able to witness real evidence being processed by experts for the presentation in court. One student recalls having a member of the staff show them a bag a Meth that according to the lab professional, “was worth more money than he would make in a year.”
While on this trip, the students received great enthusiasm and treatment from the lab personnel at the forensics lab. “They really took an interest in helping the students to learn,” said Walton.
Another trip was taken on April 5, to the Old Territorial Prison in Boise, Idaho. Walton and Scott Henrie, associate vice chancellor of liberal arts and associate professor of criminal justice drove 20 criminal justice students and interested staff members, to gain an insight into past correction’s practices. The students were able to see how the correction practices 100 years ago are different from what is practiced today. This prison was constructed in 1870 and was in operation until about 1973. Going on this trip the students were able to tie together a lot that they learn from different classes. There was a lot a positive feedback from students and their experience.
Although these specific field trips are not taken every year, the criminal justice professors try to create visual experience for their students every year. Sometime these include traveling to the location or bringing the experts to the class. A few years ago the students were able to participate with the radio control helicopters when the Utah Highway Patrol came to USU-Eastern and did a presentation on the lawn by the Reeves Building. Walton tries to either take a trip or bring a professional in once a year so the students are able to see the real life application of what they are learning in the class. Walton explains, “The point of this is so the students can see that what we doing and learning in class has relevancy to when they get a job after they graduate.”
Walton expresses that they are currently working on a trip for next year to create a bigger and better trip for next year. The professors are open to other students to attend these trips as long as there is space available.