Hypnosis Aids Criminal Investigations

Colonel Perry Gilmore, Assistant Police Chief in Amarillo, has a unique specialty in the world of criminal justice. He is a certified investigative hypnotist who uses his skills to help victims and witnesses of violent crime recall details of the event.

Gilmore, who graduated from Sam Houston State University in 1973 with a degree in law enforcement, returned to his alma mater last week for an annual training session held by Texas Association of Investigative Hypnosis at the Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Institute of Texas. He is only one of about 40 law enforcement officers, attorneys and individuals in private practice with this unique specialty in Texas.

"When victims try to remember traumatic events, sometimes it is like they are reliving it all over again," said Gilmore. "Hypnosis allows us to mitigate the emotional event. For witnesses to a crime, they may not be able to give us details. Some of the techniques we use allow them to remember the details. Hypnosis has been used in cold cases that are 20 years old."

Hypnosis is an investigative and forensic tool that has been used by law enforcement and is permitted in courts in many states, including Texas. Texas was the first state to require mandatory training, testing and certification of police officers who use hypnotic interviewing techniques. To admit this evidence in court, the process must meet many strict safeguards and standards.

"We use the art and science of hypnosis to assist the witness or victim to relay information," said Lt. Kenny Ray of the Texas Rangers in Midland, president the Texas Association Investigative Hypnosis.

Christine A. Nix, a criminal justice Ph.D. student at Sam Houston State University, trained in the technique in 1994 while working as a Texas Ranger. She said it was another tool in her toolbox to fight crime and used only as one of the last investigative measures for victims and witnesses.

"It is guided relaxation," said Nix. "Have you been asked the name of someone from your past and the harder you tried, the further it slipped to the back of your memory? It’s there on the tip of your tongue and although you may have a visual of the person, you can’t recall the name. This is the short instant in time that a person is trying to remember. If they have seen, heard or experienced it, they may be able to bring it forward in their memory."

Nix said investigative hypnosis is not psychotherapy for mental well being or stage hypnosis, where people often act out on stage. It is not used to detect whether someone is telling the truth. It is simply an aid used to assist in memory retrieval, if possible, whether the event occur days or years before the interview.

For law enforcement, there are 10 procedural safeguards built into the session in recognition of the four prong danges established by the New Jersey Supreme Court decision of Hurd (1981). For example, if a witness was recalling a robbery, the trained officer would use open-ended questions in the interview. Investigative hypnotists trained and certified by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education (TCLEOSE) avoid verbal and non-verbal cueing. A well-trained investigative hypnotist will not inquire about specific features unless first mentioned by the witness. Additionally trained investigative hypnotists always provide an audio or video recording or both for submission into evidence.

Law enforcement officers who use the technique must be certified by the TCLEOSE. Certification as a Texas investigative hypnotist requires a 50-hour training course and a licensure exam.

Among the issues studied are theories of hypnosis, legal aspects and expert witness qualification, induction techniques, deepening techniques, the use of hypnosis and polygraph, obtaining proper information during the session, techniques to obtain composite drawings and susceptibilities in the procedure.

While TCLEOSE does not require continuing education in hypnosis, The Texas Association of holds a two-day training session annually to discuss new techniques, legal changes or improved methods for interviewing victims and witnesses.

This year’s two-day conference included information on working with a forensic artists, understanding hypnosis and religion, explaining hypnotherapy and offering interviewing techniques for children and adolescents.

Investigative hypnosis is used only in a limited number of criminal cases. Nix said the training complemented her law enforcement and teaching careers. She conducts approximately four practice sessions a year and has used the technique to teach students how to relax or overcome test anxiety. Although retired, Nix maintains strict adherence to Texas Ranger policy that prohibits the use of hypnosis for smoking cessation or weigh loss.

“Hypnosis improves our interviewing skills,” Nix said. “It makes us more aware of people. During a hypnosis interview, the hypnotist must focus all concentration on the victim or witness through the duration of the session. A well trained and experienced hypnotist practices your dialogue rate and pattern of speech, and appropriate induction techniques.”

Criminal Justice Professors and Students Present Research at National Conference

The ASC, the largest professional criminology association with about 3,500 members from 50 countries, is an international organization whose members pursue scholarly, scientific and professional knowledge concerning the measurement, etiology, consequences, prevention, control and treatment of crime and delinquency. Its members include students, practitioners and academicians from the many fields of criminal justice and criminology.

The papers presented by SHSU representatives in San Francisco covered a broad range of topics, including police operations, crime, DWI courts, female offenders, juvenile offenders, drug use, victimization, terrorism, international comparisons, and the sociology and psychology of crime.

"The American Society of Criminology is the premier conference for academic criminologists," said Dr. Michael Vaughn, Assistant Dean for Graduate Studies at SHSU’s College of Criminal Justice. "Students get exposure from scholars across the world, and students have the opportunity to listen to speakers who report on their latest research representing the full gamut of the criminological enterprise."

The conference is of particular importance to graduate students, who gain exposure for their work among international scholars in the field. A total of 28 Ph.D. students attended the conference, with 23 of them sponsored by the college.

"The College of Graduate Studies and the College of Criminal Justice together provide up to $1,000 per student for travel money to attend the ASC, more than any other criminal justice or criminology Ph.D. program," Vaughn said. "Prior to the conference, all SHSU student presenters engaged in a practice presentation, which allowed them to hone their presentation skills prior to giving their formal paper at the meeting."

Among the research presented by SHSU graduate students and faculty were:

  • Drunken Driving: recidivism among DWI offenders; treatment compliance in DWI Drug Court programs; DWI manslaughter cases
  • Substance Abuse: drug courts in Texas; Internet and drug use; substance abuse, deviant behavior and high school dropouts
  • Legal Issues: civil liability during hot pursuits; narcotic detection dogs; sex offender registration statutes; future of capital punishment
  • Biological Criminology: resting heart rate, head injury and criminal behavior; nature and nurture linked to childhood antisocial behavior
  • International Issues: Internet media and terrorism in Turkey; motor bike theft in Taiwan; prosecution of Asian heads of state; homicide correlates among countries in the Western Hemisphere; delinquency in China and the United States; factors in delinquent behavior in Taiwan; parenting and delinquent behavior in Korea
  • Police Operations: Effectiveness of GIS; storefront operations; Neighborhood Watch Programs; police use of force; life course of police organizations; police presence and impact on crime
  • Social Issues: Texas employers attitudes toward hiring ex-offenders; concealed handguns on college campuses; Hispanic adolescence and deviance; delinquency in Asian societies; law enforcement and language barriers
  • Psychological Issues: the transition to parenthood and criminal behavior; parental drug use and crime; parental drug use and substance use by children
  • Correctional Issues: restorative justice programs; assessment tools for female offender
  • Victimization: Institutional response to male assault victims behavior; intimate partnership violence in older offenders and victims; intergenerational transmission of violence
  • Crime: homicide in intimate relationships; clearance rates in robberies and burglaries; violent crimes and nearby land use and facilities.

LEMIT Provides Continuing Ed for Police Chiefs

Police chiefs from across Texas recently attended continuing education training at the Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas.

CMIT Helps Jail Managers Up the Ladder

The Correctional Management Institute of Texas (CMIT), in collaboration with the American Jail Association, recently trained mid-level jail managers from 16 states across the country to take on leadership roles in their institutions.


Sat Nov. 20, 2010
8:00 AM - 2 PM
Sam Houston State University Visitors Center

Saturdays@SAM is a free program for prospective students, families, and friends.

Society of Forensic Science Meeting

Society of Forensic Science

Wed, Nov. 17, 5:00 p.m.
Chemistry and Forensic Science Building
Room 106

The scheduled speaker, Forensic Anthropolist Dr. Joan A. Bytheway, will be unable to attend the session. Instead, the guest speaker will be Dr. Karon Murff on digital forensics.

Real Talk with CJ: Tom Jones Regional LP Director

Real Talk with CJ

Tue Nov 16, 2010
2:00 pm - 3:00pm
CJ Cafe (CJava)

Shoe Box Drive for Soldiers

Nov. 15-19
10 AM - 2PM
Lowman Student Center, Mall Area

ROTC and LAE are working together to send our soldiers Shoe Boxes full of items to show our support. Come help us support our soldiers.

Society of Forensic Science Scholarship

Society of Forensic Science

The Society of Forensic Science is offering a Spring 2011 Scholarship to a deserving member of the organization. The purpose of the award is to financially assist the student with additional educational costs above tuition and fees such as textbooks. The total award amount is $250.

Internship Leads to Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Graduate Student Breanne Dolphin spent her summer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, researching books, movies and articles on child predators for that country’s National Child Exploitation Coordination Center.

SHSU Provides Citizen Survey to Houston Police

Sam Houston State University’s College of Criminal Justice recently completed the Houston Police Department’s latest citizen survey.

Study Abroad Italy Meeting

Wed, Nov. 9 or 11, 4 p.m.
Dr. Mitchel Roth's Office
Criminal Justice Hotel Building
Room 224

Join Dr. Roth for informational meetings about the Study Abroad Program in Italy this summer. Dr. Roth will lead the trip from June 15-28, examining the historic and current criminal justice system in the country. The trip includes visits to Rome, Florence and Sicily, with stops at famous landmarks like the Coliseum, Vatican and Mamertine Prison.

National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice Women's Week

Monday, Nov 8, 5 p.m.
Health and Kinesiology Center, Multipurpose Room 3
Workout with NABCJ

Come start your week off right with an invigorating workout.

Tue, Nov. 9, 7 p.m.
Olsen Auditorium
W.O.W (Women of the World)

A forum discussing the image of women in public and professional settings portrayal of women in the media and dating.

Wed, Nov. 10, 7 p.m.
Lowman Student Center, Room 304
Dirty Dark Secrets

You think you know but you have no idea.

Thu, Nov. 11, 7 p.m
SHSU Mall Area
Candelight Visual for Domestic Violence

Come light a candle for survivors of breast cancer and domestic violence as guest speakers talk about their experience with domestic violence.

Police Command Staff Gets LEMIT Training

Top command staff for Texas police departments were trained in key management issues during a recent program at the Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas.

High School Staff Get Lessons in Criminal Justice

During a two-day training conference offered by Sam Houston State University’s College of Criminal Justice, about 50 teachers met with faculty and staff from Sam Houston State University, The Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Institute of Texas and the Conroe Police Department to learn about some of the latest teaching tools and topics available in criminal justice. The program culminated with educators sharing lesson plans used in the classroom.

"This helps us to have a seamless transition between what we teach and what they are teaching in college," said Coleen Young, a criminal justice teacher at Kennedy High School in San Antonio. "It gives us guidance on the topics that kids need to know."

Young, who has six students from her program enrolled in the College of Criminal Justice, said she is impressed by the cutting edge research that is going on at the university.

Dr. David Gangitano, assistant professor in Forensic Science, encouraged teachers to instill a love of science in their students. He presented a workshop on DNA, including the history of the technology and the steps in the process to use DNA in criminal justice. He also discussed research at the university to develop DNA profiles of pollen for use in criminal investigations as well as using DNA markers to identify the color of eyes, hair and skin of suspects.

"There is a great opportunity because if they love to learn science, it is can be used in this case to solve crimes," Gangitano said.

Teachers also were provided an overview of the Institute for the Study of Violent Groups, a program at SHSU that collects open source data on terrorist groups worldwide. Dr. Vesna Markovic, principal investigator for the program, presented information on suicide bombers, including the history of the practice, profiles and motivation for individuals and groups, as well as trends and threats.

Deputy Chief Michael Hanson of the Conroe Police Department outlined some of the new technology being used by law enforcement. Among these are laptops and SMART phones; tasers, radars and surveillance equipment; training techniques and opportunities; record management systems; and cameras.

Dr. Matt Nobles, assistant professor at the College of Criminal Justice, outlined some of the latest developments in cyber crime and offered many sites teachers could use for lesson plans. The presentation discussed security, safety and ethics on the Internet and dealt with such topics as social media, shopping, gaming, file sharing and network protection.

Since we are talking about cyber-crime, the challenge is in keeping current," Nobles said.

Dr. Leana Bouffard, an associate professor at the College, introduced data collection and ways it could be incorporated into the classroom. Bouffard demonstrated statistics available on such sites as the Death Penalty Information Center and the Uniform Crime Reports and how they could be used to illustrate quantity, change and relationship in crime data. She encouraged teachers to use designated events, such as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Cyber-Crime Awareness Month or National Drug Fact Week, to generate research opportunities and to use local data to peak student interest.

Dr. Melissa Tackett-Gibson, another assistant professor at the College, showed how different types of media portray crimes, victims, offenders and law enforcement and how they influence public opinion. Among the media discussed were news, info-tainment, entertainment, gaming and social media.

Several members of the university also outlined the process of applying to Sam Houston State University and opportunities available for first year students. Educators also toured Incident Command Simulation Training at LEMIT, a state-of-the art facility that offers special crisis management instruction to national, state and local law enforcement, and the Southeast Texas Applied Forensic Science Facility, one of only four sites in the country to study the application of forensic science in crime scene and criminal activities using human bodies.

The program was developed by Dr. Holly Miller, Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Studies, and Karen Eads, Administrative Technician at the College of Criminal Justice.

ROTC Cadets Target Criminal Justice Degrees

Kim is one of 132 Army ROTC cadets at Sam Houston State University. More than 80 percent of the cadets in the program are pursuing degrees in criminal justice.

"As a criminal justice major, I wanted to see what other jobs might help my career," said Kim. "Everything in criminal justice includes policy and authority and a lot of that plays in the military. A lot of criminal justice majors want to go into the FBI or CIA. The military benefits you, helps you get there and prepares you for leadership."

Kim is the University’s top ROTC cadet, placing 41st out of 5,342 college seniors nationwide in the National Order of Merit, a ranking system based on academics, leadership, extracurricular activities and physical training. The high designation allowed Kim to be selective about the military branch and job she would take in the armed forces. Kim got her first choice in U.S. Army Military Intelligence. She will graduate in May and enter the program as a second lieutenant.

The College of Criminal Justice and the Army ROTC programs at SHSU compliment one another, both in practical preparation for careers as well as with similar goals and objectives. Dr. Holly Miller, Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Programs at the College of Criminal Justice, said the two programs work well together.

"The majority of ROTC cadets are criminal justice majors," said Miller. "The ROTC and CJ students are interested in very similar things, like peacekeeping and protection."

"I think criminal justice appreciates the types of leaders we provide," said Lt. Col. David J. Yebra, commander of the university’s ROTC program. "Our cadets are physically fit; they work out a minimum three times a week. They are responsible, accountable and have leadership skills and discipline. They are taught basic rifle and marksmanship and understand the employment of weapons. We also track the academic progression of our students to ensure a high graduation rate."

While students can pursue degrees in criminal justice, forensic science and victims studies through the College of Criminal Justice, they can also get a minor in Military Science through the ROTC program. Students may take the lower-division courses without obligation for military service. They also may attend summer Army training, such as Airborne School.

Students who want to pursue upper-division can complete the ROTC program and compete for commissions as officers in the U. S. Army, Army Reserves, or Army National Guard. SHSU also has a Veterans Center which offers assistance for returning military veterans.

The commissioned ROTC program offers monthly stipends as well as scholarship opportunities at both the national and campus levels, and graduates of the program enter the military as officers in the Army as second lieutenants. They have opportunities to serve in many branches of the military, such as infantry, Military Police, transportation, medical services and field artillery, Yebra said.

The ROTC program includes classes in leadership, basic military skills, critical decision making, field training, physical training and communications. Students also work with military leaders in the field through an online program to address decision-making in real life situations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"They also have significant opportunity to exercise their leadership skills by leading small units," Yebra said. "Our students understand accountability, caring for subordinates, providing instruction and training, issuing orders, and leading by example."

Yebra has witnessed firsthand the benefits of the military and law enforcement working side-by-side. Before his last deployment to Iraq, Yebra was sent to the Los Angeles Police Department to work with officers battling gangs in South Central LA. His unit adopted many of the techniques and tactics used by law enforcement agencies.

Retired police officers are also assigned to Iraq and Afghanistan to help train soldiers in warrant based targeting procedures, including collecting evidence, taking witness statements and testifying in court.

“Our two disciplines have never had a greater need to share information,” said Yebra.

Society of Forensic Science -- Prison Tour

Thur, Nov. 4, 3:30 p.m.
Walls Prison Unit
815 12th St.
Huntsville, Texas 77320-3320
(936) 291-4200

University Hotel Open House

Wed Nov 3, 2010
4:30pm - 6:30pm
University Hotel
Bluebonnet Suite

The University Hotel cordially invites you to an open house to see our newly renovated rooms. Reception in Bluebonnet Suite.

SHSU Receives Grant to Target Drug Abuse in the Workplace

Over the next three years, the "Drug Impairment Training for Texas Employers" (DITTE) program will be developed for human resources and public affairs professionals, business owners, and senior and executive management employers on how to recognize signs and symptoms of drug and alcohol use among their employees. This program will be patterned after a similar effort to train employees in secondary schools to detect drug and alcohol use among students.

"With support from the National Safety Council-Texas, the primary goal of the grant is to work with Texas employers to educate their employees on traffic safety and to help reduce the number of fatalities and injuries on Texas highways," said Cecelia Marquart, director of the Impaired Driving Initiatives at Sam Houston State University’s Criminal Justice Center. "This strategy, focusing on impaired driving, would be one initiative businesses could initiate to minimize employee alcohol and drug use."

The six-hour training curriculum will assist employers in identifying the signs and symptoms of drug impairment, including alcohol, illicit drugs and prescription drug use. It will also provide a systematic approach to recognizing and evaluating individuals with abuse problems. By developing early intervention strategies, the program is designed to make roadways and workplaces safer.

The consequences of drug use on the job are staggering. About 75 percent of all adults using illicit drugs are employed, as well as most binge drinkers and heavy alcohol users. Nationally, for example, full-time workers aged 18-49 who reported any current illicit drug use were more likely than those reporting no current illicit drug use to have:

  • worked for three or more employers in the past year;
  • taken an unexcused absence from work in the past month
  • voluntarily left an employer in the last year; or
  • been fired by an employer in the last year.

According to a survey sponsored by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, illicit drug-using employees are more likely:

  • to request early dismissal or time off;
  • to have absences of eight days or more;
  • to be late for work;
  • to be involved in a workplace accident; and
  • to file workers’ compensation.

According to the National Safety Council, motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of on- and off- the- job accidental deaths in the U.S. In addition to making roads safer, addressing substance abuse issues can save companies money. In Texas, employers can save an estimated $13,514 a year in health care and related costs for each employee identified with a drug and alcohol issue. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that Texas employers spend $4.3 billion a year as the result of employee traffic accidents.

In recent years, abuse of prescription drugs has become a threat on the job. While marijuana is the most prevalent illegal drug problem nationwide, the abuse of pain killers ranks second. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 50 percent of Americans use one prescription drug for medical reasons on a regular basis, while 20 percent of Americans have used prescription drugs for non-medical purposes in their lifetime.

The Impaired Driving Initiatives Program will develop an advisory group and pilot the DITTE curriculum the first year. The proposed curriculum will include an overview of drug and alcohol use, drug identification and effects, and the development of a resource guide for policies, programs and practices.

The six-hour training will be piloted in five key regions, including Austin/San Antonio, Dallas/Fort Worth, Corpus Christi, El Paso, and Houston/Galveston. The program is expected to train up to 600 employers during the second and third years of the program with the goal of safer Texas highways.

Alumnus Appointed to ICE Firearms Unit

Chris Cronen, a 1991 graduate of Sam Houston State University’s College of Criminal Justice, recently was promoted to Deputy Director of the National Firearms and Tactical Training Unit (NFTTU) at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Member of The Texas State University System