Summer Camp Showcases Criminal Justice Careers

A high school student steps in the gear of an ATF Special Agent.
A high school student steps in the gear of an ATF Special Agent.

This summer, more than 75 high school students from across Texas got to walk in the shoes of those who fight crime in the state.

During three summer camps hosted by the College of Criminal Justice, high school students explored different career opportunities in the field from the professionals who live those jobs every day in federal, state and local agencies. They also tested their skills in handcuffing suspects, lifting fingerprints, processing crime scenes, practicing self-defense tactics and searching a hotel room for suspects.

DPS Trooper Eric Burse, a SHSU Alumnus, shares information of careers available at his agency.DPS Trooper Eric Burse, a SHSU Alumnus, shares information of careers available at his agency.“The Criminal Justice Summer Camp provides high school students invaluable insight into the numerous job opportunities available within the Criminal Justice field, while also giving them a brief taste of college life,” said Fabia Mendez, Undergraduate Advising Coordinator at Sam Houston State University’s College of Criminal Justice.


Students investigate a mock murder scene at the College.
Students investigate a mock murder scene at the College.
The students learned from the best -- professionals like U.S. Marshals; FBI and ATF Agents; Texas State Troopers and Game Wardens; Sheriff’s Officers and Dispatcher; District Attorneys; Corrections Officers and Inmates; Search and Rescue organizations; and the Southeast Texas Applied Forensic Science Facility. The week culminated with a mock crime scene investigation where students played detectives in solving a murder case.

Cadaver dogs, seen here with students, can find human remains on the ground and in the water.
Cadaver dogs can find human remains on the ground and in the water.
The five-day sessions, which ran from Sunday to Thursday, were chock full of activities. The students learned firsthand about the benefits of using search dogs from the Search and Cadaver Dog Network after 26 students spent 20 minutes in the hot sun searching for evidence in a small patch of grass. Noggin, the search dog, took only three minutes to find a bloody cloth tucked under the roots of a tree in much broader area.

SHSU University Police demonstrate a restraining device.
SHSU University Police demonstrate a restraining device.
Two U.S. Marshals gave students a glimpse into the exciting world of tracking down and transporting fugitives across the globe. Students got to experience the thrill of the hunt and capture by raiding a hotel room, equipped with real life protection gear, and handcuffing “suspects” with arm and leg chains for transportation.

A student tests a fingerprinting technique.
A student tests a fingerprinting technique." />
The Harris County Firearms Examiners showed students the behind-the-scenes work of a crime scene investigator and gave them an opportunity to identify and lift fingerprints using a variety of methods, including ink and dye.


Students check out the technology inside a patrol car.
Students check out the technology inside a patrol car.
During a field trip to Montgomery County, students got to tour the jail and dispatch center, listening to real time police calls coming in from 9-1-1. They also got to visit with deputies assigned to various divisions, including Crimestoppers, the motorcycle unit and the homicide squad.

At STAFS, one of only four willed body facilities in the world that studies the decomposition of bodies for investigative purposes, participants toured the research facility and examined skeletal remains in the laboratory.

A inmate from TDCJ explains how he got into a life of crime.
A inmate from TDCJ explains how he got into a life of crime.
Inmate trustees and correction officers from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice provided insight into the reasons behind and consequences of crime. Officers showed the deadly weapons and creative contraband fashioned by offenders in jail. Students also toured the Texas Prison Museum in Huntsville and got a taste of what it feels like to live behind bars.

Students also got the insider’s view of the wide variety of jobs available in the criminal justice field, as well as the steps needed to get there. Among the careers represented were game wardens, special agents with the FBI and ATF, state troopers, correction officer, forensic experts and crime scene investigators to name a few.

Student is ready to take on the world dressed as a U.S. Marshal.
Ready to take on the world as a U.S. Marshal.
In addition to exposure to future careers, student also got a chance to experience college at Sam Houston State University during their stay. Students ate on campus and at local restaurants, swam and played basketball at the Health and Kinesiology Center, browsed at the book store and gift shop, went bowling, and watched movies.

Member of The Texas State University System