Alpha Phi Sigma Meeting

Wed, Oct 31, 2012
5:30 p.m.
CJava Cafe

Phi Alpha Delta General Meeting

Phi Alpha Delta logo

Mon, Oct 29, 2012
5 p.m.
Lowman Student Center
Room 319

Dr. Oliver Critiques Historic Crimes and Hollywood

Dr. Oliver, a professor in the College of Criminal Justice, has turned one of his college courses into a book to help students understand how criminal justice history is presented in major motion pictures. He and co-author Nancy E. Marion use 10 films, based on actual historic events, to show the myths and realities of true crimes.

TDCJ Hero Funds Criminal Justice Scholarship

Warden Billy Hirsch and Melanie Smith work at the Wynne Unit, where TDCJ Hero Susan L. Canfield was killed during an escape.
Warden Billy Hirsch and Melanie Smith work at the Wynne Unit, where TDCJ Hero Susan L. Canfield was killed during an escape.

After spending four years at the Holliday and Wynne Units, Correctional Officer Melanie Smith decided she would like to become a lawyer to provide a voice for victims or to defend the innocent.

SHSU Grad Builds Legal Legacy at UH-Clear Lake

Dr. James C. Benson recently purchased the furniture from the old 400th District Courtroom in Fort Bend County and made it into a mock trial classroom for his legal studies students at the University of Houston-Clear Lake.

It took $1,000 and six weeks of sawing and cutting to disassemble the courtroom fixtures and downsize it into a regular classroom. The courtroom will be used in mock trials for students in legal studies and in testing real life cases on student “focus groups” by lawyers who graduated from the program.

Teachers Dissect Criminal Justice in Prime Time

A teacher examines skeletal remains at the Southeast Texas Applied Forensic Science facility.
A teacher examines skeletal remains at the Southeast Texas Applied Forensic Science facility.

High school criminal justice instructors got a reality check on various aspects of crime during an annual training at the College of Criminal Justice.

Titled “Criminal Justice in Prime Time: Truths and Misconceptions in the Media,” the training was designed for teachers to dispel the myths about crime and the media, gangs, forensic DNA, women in criminal justice, capital punishment, skeletal remains, and photography. The two-day training, which included 46 teachers from across the state, also provided ready-made lessons for their classrooms.

Make a Difference with Victim Studies

Illustration of an open door.

The Victim Studies Program at the College of Criminal Justice will hold an Open House on Oct. 25 to highlight the degree program, internships, the Crime Victims’ Institute and a student organization in the field.

Society of Forensic Science Meeting

Society of Forensic Science logo

Tue, Oct 23, 2012
5:30 PM
Chemistry and Forensic Science Building
Room 103

The Society of Forensic Science is a special interest group at SHSU, consisting of individuals who are interested in working together to expand and share their knowledge of Forensic Science. The society participates in various volunteer and fundraising activities throughout the year.

The guest speaker for the meeting will be Jason Schroeder, a Gun Residue Analyst from the Harris County Institute of Forensic Science. Pizza and beverages will be served.

CJ College Adds Two New Student Organizations

Two new student organizations for graduate students and fraud examiners were launched this fall with roots in the College of Criminal Justice.

Real Talk w/CJ: NCIS Agent Chad Willie

logo for Real Talk w/CJ

Fri Oct 19, 2012
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Alumnus Chad Willie (BS '95) is a Special Agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS.) He investigates felonies in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, such as rapes, death investigations, murders, computer crimes, child pornography, and fraud.

Bullying Has Long-Term Health Effects

Childhood bullying can lead to long term health consequences, including general and mental health issues, behavioral problems, eating disorders, smoking, alcohol use, and homelessness, a study by the Crime Victims’ Institute at Sam Houston State University found.

Bearkats Make the Grade as School District Police

At the Austin Independent School District, a half dozen Bearkats have made their careers in education.

From the Police Chief to Patrol, graduates or current Masters’ students at the College of Criminal Justice are making their mark in the field as school district police for the fourth largest district in Texas. With 86,000 students, 11,000 district employees and 172 facilities, it’s a big job, with lots of diverse opportunities, including patrol, detectives, K9 officers, or school resources officers, to name a few.

“We don’t consider ourselves a traditional police department,” said Chief Eric Mendez, who will graduate from Sam Houston State University in December with a Masters in Criminal Justice Leadership and Management. “Yes, we provide response, like they do in community policing, but we interact every day with students, parents and visitors to the schools. We educate our students so they are able to be successful. At AISD, we do mentoring, training, mediation, mental health and education. We look for the underlying causes of crime before kids wind up in the criminal justice system.”

The district is always looking for candidates for positions in the police department.

“I am looking for individuals who are people-balanced,” said Chief Mendez. “You have to understand that not everyone is the same and that it takes different approaches to work with different people.”

Sgt. David Stovall, who also will complete his Master’s degree in December, and Travis Pickford, a SHSU graduate, are detectives in the district. In addition to investigating major crimes and high profile cases that occur in schools, they are charged with exploring allegations of child abuse and in participating in a juvenile intervention program with local police. Sgt. Stovall also oversees the district’s K-9 unit, which includes a Labrador and a Golden Retriever, and Det. Pickford was a K9 handler for “Buddy,” who retired over the summer after 11 years of service. In addition to being trained as drug or bomb dogs, the K-9 unit also makes presentation in the classroom and community.

“It’s a great bridge for meeting with students,” said Stovall. “Here, you have an opportunity to have a positive influence on such an important asset – that’s our kids. What’s more important job is there than to be responsible for the safety of another person’s child?”

Det. Pickford is a member of the interagency Joint Juvenile Gang Intervention Unit, where he teaches the Gang Resistance Education and Training program, counsels students who are considering getting in or out of a gang, and gathers intelligence and provides assistance with gang-related problems.

“To be honest, school policing was nowhere on my ‘career radar’ when I decided that I wanted to go into law enforcement,” said Det. Pickford, a 10-year veteran of the force. “I realized very quickly that I had this innate passion to want to work with students. I began to see that my interactions with them had an impact... That sometimes, on that particular day, I was the only person that student interacted with that actually cared about the problems they were going through. I know that it is impossible to ‘save’ every student, but if you can change one student's life for the better, doesn't that make it all worth it? “

Sgt. David Herrera, who received his Masters of Criminal Justice Leadership and Management at SHSU 10 years ago commuting to Huntsville on weekends, is the South Sector Supervisor managing 17 officers and 43 campuses. Daily calls in his area may include child custody cases, family disturbances, and investigations of complaints against students, teachers, or staff. Sgt. Herrera is also a certified mental health officer and a certified special investigator for sexual assault and family violence victims.

After serving five years as in both a suburban and school district police departments in San Antonio, Herrera joined Austin ISD in 1998 and began working at one the toughest neighborhoods in the district. He worked with faculty and parents to turn the school around.

“The key is ownership in your profession and to your community,” said Sgt. Herrera. “What you give is what you get in return and I had a complete sense of accomplishment when I had to leave that community due to a promotion…I loved the challenge. It encapsulated 10-12 hours a day…I am glad to see that the school was seen as a safe place, not one that is plagued with issues and problems.”

Sgt. Beverly Freshour, who has participated in programs at the Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas and just began the Master’s Program at SHSU, is the Patrol Supervisor for the North Sector, overseeing 15 officers. In addition to responding to calls and making daily visits to campuses, she reviews all reports, provides approval for any arrests, and monitors issues that may have a critical impact on the district. She also takes the time to talk to students who are starting down the wrong path.

Sgt. Freshour also started her career at a traditional police department, but as a single mother she needed a smaller department with better hours. She found it at Austin ISD and has stayed 15 years. Sgt. Freshour began as a school resource officer on a middle school campus where she taught a Junior Police Academy class for six years. Working with the district and at the school provided an opportunity to make a positive impact with the students.

"The daily involvement with students on a campus is instrumental in changing negative perceptions juveniles have about police officers,” said Sgt. Freshour. “Interaction within a class setting provides an informal environment where students feel safe approaching an officer without feeling intimidated."

Senior Police Officer Jimmy Gary, who is pursuing his Master degree to enhance his career in law enforcement, is in patrol and handles daily issues that arise in the central part of the district. He visits elementary campuses and backs up school resources officers and local police on major incidents. Before joining patrol, he was a school resource officer for Anderson High School, where her served as a mentor to students, taught classes on tobacco awareness, and operated a gang prevention and awareness program on campus.

“The best thing about the job is the day to day interaction with the students,” said Officer Gary. “You get to build a rapport with them and earn their trust. You get to see some of the kids grow up and you see the impact you made on their lives. You see the change in them by being a positive influence.”

Developing a Lab Test for Bath Salt Drugs

Bath salts, also known as synthetic cathinones, are a new breed of designer drugs that were legally sold in convenience stores, head shops and on the Internet until being included on the list of illegal substances through an emergency order by the Drug Enforcement Administration in October 2011. These drugs, that are capable of producing powerful hallucinogenic and adrenergic effects, are routinely seized in drug cases around the Houston metropolitan area and throughout the nation.

A technician tests for drugs in biological samples in the lab.
A technician tests for drugs in biological samples in the lab.
“Bath salts are the new breed of designer amph- etamines, and they pose a number of challenges for law enforcement agencies from a public safety and public health standpoint,” said Dr. Kerrigan.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, bath salts also have adverse effects including rapid heart rates which may lead to heart attacks and strokes, chest pains, nosebleeds, sweating, nausea, and vomiting. Those who abuse the substance also report agitation, insomnia, irritability, dizziness, depression, paranoia, delusions, suicidal thoughts, seizures, and panic attacks.

A package of bath salts and powder within.
Bath salts are routinely seized in drug cases in Houston and across the U.S.
According to a 2011 report from the National Drug Intelligence Center, drug users are attracted to bath salts because they can evade most drug tests and, as a result, it may not be detected in impaired driving cases or death investigations.

“Analytical limitations for state and local forensic toxicology laboratories impact criminal and death investigation casework, and these deficiencies can have serious criminal justice consequences,” Dr. Kerrigan said.

While bath salts are easy to detect in seized samples, such as pills, powders and capsules, once they are ingested, they pose a number of challenges in the toxicology lab. The Department of Forensic Science will develop a procedure to detect at least eight of the most common components found in bath salts in biological evidence. These components include mephedrone, flephedrone, methylone , butylone, ethylone, methedrone, MDPV, and naphyrone.

Many toxicology labs use gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC/MS) to identify drugs in biological evidence. The new study will target a wide variety of the new designer drugs using one procedure.

The GC/MS machines used to test drugs in toxicology samples.
The GC/MS machines used to test drugs in toxicology samples.
As part of an earlier NIJ-funded study, Dr. Kerrigan recently completed and published research on a related class of designer amphetamines with students and graduates from the MS Program in Forensic Science. Two articles on the detection of similar drugs were published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology last year. One study identified procedures that could be used to detect the drug in urine samples and the second concluded that crime labs that use commercial immunoassay testing may fail to detect these drugs. Additional publications are pending.

As a former state laboratory director, Kerrigan believes that the collaborative research and close academic-industrial partnerships that exist in the Forensic Science Department are a critical component of the program’s success.

“Many accredited crime labs do not have the time or resources to accommodate research due to their day to day operational pressures and backlogs,” Dr. Kerrigan said. “Collaborative research like this is mutually beneficial. It allows universities to demonstrate industrial relevance through technological developments, and the crime labs to demonstrate wider scientific awareness and access to research resources. It advances forensic science and promotes a forward-thinking profession.”

Stalking Hits Home on SHSU Campus

In December 2006, a 20-year old pre-nursing major at Sam Houston State University was shot to death in her off campus apartment by a fellow student who she had known since high school and briefly dated. She was a victim of stalking.

Alpha Phi Sigma Meeting

Wed, Oct 17, 2012
5:30 p.m.
CJava Cafe

Fighting Gangs in Houston, One Hot Spot at a Time

Officer Eric Vento has dedicated his short career to fighting gangs on the street as part of the Houston Police Department, and he would like to share his knowledge with prospective law enforcement officers in the future.

Webinar Expands Learning in the Corrections Field

The Correctional Management Institute of Texas hosted its first live broadcast on the Internet for adult probation officers to discuss ways to implement research-based practices in the field.

The Webinar, “Finding the Point with Evidence-Based Practices,” was attended by criminal justice agency personnel from 95 sites across Texas and was a cost-effective way to reach more professionals in the corrections field with nationally-known experts and a broad range of officials in Texas in the community correction process. This live, interactive program featured Dr. Christopher Lowenkamp, former Director of the Center for Criminal Justice Research and Associate Director of the Corrections Institute at the University of Cincinnati, as well as a panel of officials from Community Supervision and Corrections, probation supervisors, and judges from across the state.

“It’s a cost effective way to reach a lot of different people in the state of Texas,” said Craig Corder, a Project Coordinator from CMIT. “It‘s assisting the community supervisors and adult probation officers in the state and helping them to implement evidence-based practices in their departments.”

The program also gave participants the opportunity to send in questions for the expert or panel during the live, two-and-a-half hour presentation. All that was needed to participate was access to a computer and the Internet.

Dr. Lowenkamp, now a lecturer at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, is the author of several risk assessment instruments and cognitive behavioral curricula for offenders. He is the author of Post Conviction Risk Assessment and the Pretrial Risk Assessment, which is used by the federal probation and pretrial systems. He has been involved in training correctional staff in effective staff practices and risk assessment.

Dr. Lowenkamp said evidence-based practices are a process rather than a particular treatment or procedure. The steps for using evidence-based practices are to assess the nature of the problem, ask clinical questions about the best methods for intervening, acquire evidence by reviewing relevant resources, appraise how closely the research subject matches a particular client, develop and implement a plan, and analyze if it works.

Dr. Lowenkamp urged participants to become the innovators or to follow the early adopters of plans in their offices to help implement evidence-based practices and then train others how to do it.

The ideas presented were discussed by a panel of Texas officials in various aspects of the criminal justice process, including Leighton Iles, Director of Tarrant Community Supervision and Correction Department (CSCD); Judge Rose G. Ryan of the 206th Judicial District Court of Hildalgo County; Mike Wolfe, Director of Taylor County CSCD; Retired Judge John Creuzot of Dallas County DIVERT Court; and Caroline Rickaway, Director of Brazoria County CSCD .

Panelists included Mike Wolfe, Caroline Rickaway, Leighton Iles, Judge John Cruezot, and Judge Rose Guerra.The panelists talked about some of the challenges to implementing evidence-based practices and ways that different jurisdictions overcame those obstacles. Some of the issues that arise are large caseloads as well as the size and resources of the counties. Judges also discussed the patterns they have seen among offenders in the courtroom.

The program was moderated by Carey Welebob, Director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice – Community Justice Assistance Division.

This is the first professional Webinar offered by CMIT and was done in collaboration with DELTA, which provides SHSU’s online courses, and the Mass Communications Department at Sam Houston State University. CMIT hopes to hold more Webinars in the future.

High School Criminal Justice Instructors Training

A teacher examines a skeleton at the Southeast Texas Applied Forensic Science Facility.
A teacher examines a skeleton at the Southeast Texas Applied Forensic Science Facility.

Oct 11 - 12, 2012
George J. Beto Criminal Justice Center

Criminal Justice in Prime Time
Truths & Misconceptions in the Media

Sam Houston State University College of Criminal Justice will once again host the annual seminar for Texas high school criminal justice instructors. Don't miss this opportunity to attend 1½ days that will provide professional training directly related to CJ subject field and special needs.

Real Talk w/CJ: Graduate and Law School

Real Talk with CJ

Tue Oct 9, 2012
3:00 pm - 4:00pm
CJ Cafe (CJava)

Get tips on how to get into law school or graduate school from faculty members at Sam Houston State University at the next Real Talk w/CJ.

Dr. Kelly E. Knight, an assistant professor at the College of Criminal Justice, and Mike Yawn, pre-law advisor at SHSU, will provide an overview of what you need to know to pursue advanced degrees. There are basically three routes to choose in graduate education – law school, academic research and teaching or professional advancement.

Society of Forensic Science Meeting

Society of Forensic Science logo

Tue, Dec. 3, 2013
5:30 PM
Chemistry and Forensic Science Building
Room 103

The Society of Forensic Science is a special interest group at SHSU, consisting of individuals who are interested in working together to expand and share their knowledge of Forensic Science. The society participates in various volunteer and fundraising activities throughout the year.

The guest speaker for the meeting will be Dr. Jeff Walterscheid, Forensic Toxicologist from the Harris County Institute of Forensic Science. Pizza and beverages will be served.

Phi Alpha Delta General Meeting

Phi Alpha Delta logo

Mon, Oct 8, 2012
5 p.m.
Lowman Student Center
Room 319

Alpha Phi Sigma Meeting

Wed, Oct 3, 2012
5:30 p.m.
CJava Cafe

Female Law Enforcement Executives Continue LIFE’s Lessons

Female officers stands in front of an American flag.

The Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT), through its Professional Development Program (PDP), is expanding opportunities for current and future female law enforcement executives through a series of one-day seminars, an annual conference, and a newsletter.

Discover Careers in Corrections at New Web Site

A new web site was launched earlier this year to help the public discover the wide variety of careers available in corrections.

New Anti-Fraud Student Club Forming at SHSU

Tue, Oct 2, 2012
6:00 PM
Smith-Hutson Business Building, Room 341

The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners is starting a SHSU chapter for majors in Accounting/Finance, Computer Science, Criminal Justice, Digital Forensics, MIS and Security Studies. Guest Speaker: Ryan Hubbs, Houston Area Chapter President and Forensic Audit Manager at Halliburton.

Member of The Texas State University System