Criminals throughout the city of Fairmont should be shaking in their boots with the presence of the FSU Criminal Justice program. After sweeping the competition at nationals last year in New York City by taking first place in the Crime Scene Competition, FSU Criminal Justice Honor Society (Alpha Phi Sigma) students went to the state competition with a goal of winning and they delivered.
Competing on the state level at the West Virginia Criminal Justice Educators’ Association (WVCJEA) Conference at Marshall University in October, FSU took first place in the crime scene competition and second place in the Undergraduate Paper competition. They now head to Dallas, Texas to compete in the national competition.
How was Fairmont State able to compete against much larger schools including Marshall and West Virginia University? The students unanimously agreed that their close knit group of students and faculty are a key factor to their success. Pulling together as a team, they use the experience of older students, as well as knowledge gleaned from faculty members and classes to hold their own against larger schools with their extra resources.
“You rely on the people who have done it before,” responded Brittany Shumate when asked how the team prepared. “You take your experiences from states and nationals last year and you go over it with the new students. That is what we did the night before the competition in the hotel room, the older students teaching the newer students.”
There is a lot that goes into the crime scene competitions including the right equipment to get the job done. Teams bring laptops and thumb drives for creating presentations, cameras for pictures, writing utensils and paper to take notes, and a crime scene kit. In addition to their needed supplies, the students bring their knowledge, teamwork and attention to detail. Being able to bring all of these necessary aspects together is a great skill that FSU students have. Proof of this can be seen from the outcome of the national and state competitions.
Kaitlin Antolock, Alpha Phi Sigma National Vice President, said, “We compiled a really good written form to turn into the judges and I think that gave us a really good edge over everyone else because we had it documented so thought out and thoroughly and really corresponded with each other. We all spent hours in that room putting it together.”
The competitions are a great way to prepare the students for their future careers in the field of criminal justice. One major skill that the students perfect at these competitions is writing good reports. Writing is a key skill in the criminal justice field. Students must be able to write and present evidence well in a court situation. This skill is something that Fairmont State is already tackling aggressively, and it shows in the competitions.
Dr. Deanna Shields, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, says that writing is the focus of many upper level criminal justice classes. “The judges at the state competition told me that our students were better able to connect their ideas in written form than the other teams. Their written report was just outstanding; they’re good writers.”
During the competition each team chooses one member to serve as the Chair and to present the team’s findings to the judges. This year, that honor and challenge went to Buckhannon native, Tyler Hawkins. “I think it’s pretty impressive that we do so well in these competitions when we are competing against schools whose main focus is on crime scene analysis. We are just criminal justice students who have come together and through what our professors have taught us, we are able to compete with other students who are trained specifically to handle this stuff. It speaks a lot to the level of professors and the dedication of the students.”
All of Fairmont State University is proud to have such dedicated faculty and students contributing to the reputation and level of excellence of the school. FSU is now a nationally known university for its criminal justice program and crime scene analysis. Keep up the good work, and good luck at the 2013 National competition in Dallas, Texas!
The following are the criminal justice students who competed and represented FSU on the state and/or national level:
Amy Bess: Hometown- Hugheston, WV Competed at States
Daniel Ingles: Hometown- Bridgeport, WV Competed at States & Nationals
Brittany Shumate: Hometown- Coal City, WV Competed at States & Nationals
Tyler Hawkins: Hometown- Buckhannon, WV Competed at States & Nationals
Logan Fletcher: Hometown- Lost Creek, WV Competed at Nationals
Logan Markley: Hometown- Fairmont, WV Competed at Nationals
Zach Pingley: Hometown- Elkins, WV Competed at States & Nationals
Kaitlin Antolock: Hometown- Fairmont, WV Competed at Nationals