Friday, October 30, 2015

Students in Intro to Criminal Investigation Process Mock Crime Scene

Students in the introductory Criminal Investigation course had the opportunity to process a mock crime scene earlier this semester. This has both academic and practical applications.
Students examine the crime scene and take notes.
Left to Right: George Crone, Mohamed Alhashmi, and Auston Smith

Academically, students applied the concepts of inductive and deductive reasoning.  And, like in any investigation (academic or otherwise) an investigator must be able to reason properly and spot common fallacies in reasoning so that they do not make mistakes that lead them to the wrong conclusions.  While the investigation is not yet complete, students will later interview witnesses and interrogate suspects, processes during which they must continue to apply the principles of logic with lengthening fact patterns. 

Mohamed and George take photos and measurements
while Auston takes notes to use in preparing their reports.

Practically, students learned that it is necessary to thoroughly document crime scenes in order to aid in the investigation of the crime.  This documentation can also serve as the basis for formal reports that can be used in court if a case goes to trial.

George and Auston take measurements to prepare for
the sketches they will create later on.

To document the crime scene, students noted what they observed about the scene and took photos and measurements.  Students then created a to-scale sketch of the crime scene using those notes, photos and measurements.  The students were also able to utilize best practices, such as exercising caution when moving within the crime scene to prevent contamination of evidence and taking photos first to act as a reference in case evidence is unintentionally disturbed.

The group discusses their findings after they process the scene.

This project afforded students a glimpse of what it takes to investigate a crime.  "The crime scene project...gave me an overall picture of the procedures of processing a crime scene," said Mohamed, a criminal justice major who plans to go to graduate school to study digital forensics.  "...when I first arrived, I wasn't sure where to start, but I remembered what we had learned in class and started to apply it.  [It] was a really nice activity." 

Melissa Smith, a senior psychology and criminal justice double major who also had the opportunity to process the crime scene, was most surprised by the level of detail.  "It was cool to see what it's like, but it was harder...more challenging than I thought it would be," said Melissa. 

Check back later this semester for updates on the case as students continue their investigation of the crime by interviewing witnesses and interrogating suspects.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Ashland Detective Kim Mager Visits Criminal Law Class

Detective Kim Mager
This post is one of several which cover professional speakers the Criminal Justice Program brings into the classroom, allowing students to learn from and connect with experts who currently work in a variety of areas in the criminal justice field. Check out our recap post for a list of speakers the CJ Program hosted during the fall 2015 semester.

Last week, Ashland Police Detective Kim Mager spoke to the CJ 362: Criminal Law class about investigations and interrogations.  Detective Mager has been with the Ashland Police Department for 18 years and is an Ashland University alumna.

Junior criminal justice major Morgan Scarberry, who plans to become a State Trooper after graduation, had this to say about Detective Mager's presentation:

"I certainly think our entire class, regardless of our career plans in the CJ system, can not only benefit from Detective Mager’s experience, but the passion and determination she demonstrates in her career.  I personally found Det. Mager’s ability to read people the most interesting.  She emphasized the need in interrogation to evaluate each offender and adapt accordingly in order to achieve a confession. 
She also spoke of her experience with investigation, explaining that there will almost never be the stereotypical victim or a clear indication that criminal wrong is occurring, but regardless of the circumstances, an offender’s rights should never be violated.  This helps to ensure you never sacrifice the case. 
I found it surprising that Det. Mager also does the voice analysis for potential new hires.  She reminded our class that departments are not looking for perfect people, rather just decent and honest candidates.  And as someone who is personally looking into a career in law enforcement, this is very valuable information to carry with me throughout my future application processes."
Thank you, Detective Mager, for sharing your time and insights with the class!    

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

AU Alumna Detective Kim Mager Receives Distinguished Law Enforcement Community Service Award

Earlier this month at the Ohio Attorney General's Conference on Law Enforcement, Ashland University Alumna and Ashland Police Department Detective Kim Mager was presented with the Distinguished Law Enforcement Community Service Award. 

Detective Mager was recognized for her leadership of the local "Shop with a Cop" Program, which she has led for the past 13 years.  The Program allows children in need to shop with a police officer for gifts during the Christmas season. 

For the Distinguished Law Enforcement Community Service Award, each nominee is evaluated on leadership, civic involvement, personal contributions to the community, and positive impact for the community over his or her lifetime.  The award seeks to recognize the recipient for making extraordinary contributions to his or her community. 

According to a News Release from the Ohio Attorney General's Office, the Program was born in 2001 when Detective Mager was a patrol officer.  A young boy had been removed from his home and had not received anything for Christmas.  "Officers pooled their money and bought gifts for the child," reads the release.  The following year, Detective Mager worked with Job and Family Services and local schools to identify children in need. 

The Program has grown a great deal since 2001.  Nearly 180 children "shopped with a cop" last year, the largest number of participants to date - an extraordinary contribution, indeed!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

CJ Professor Marc Hedrick Interviewed by Ashland Center for Nonviolence

In an interview conducted by Ashland Center for Nonviolence student intern, Emily Wirtz, Dr. Marc Hedrick, Professional Instructor of Criminal Justice at Ashland University, discussed his work and interest in the field of restorative justice, "a theory of justice that emphasizes repairing the harm caused by criminal behavior" (as defined by

Visit the Ashland Center for Nonviolence blog to learn more about restorative justice and Dr. Hedrick's take on its place in the criminal justice system.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Ohio Council of Criminal Justice Education Career Fair

If you are an Ashland University student interested in a career in Criminal Justice, Homeland Security, Mental Health or Social Services, consider attending the Ohio Council of Criminal Justice Education (OCCJE) Career Fair at Tiffin University.

To get an idea of the range of organizations that are usually in attendance, OCCJE provides a list of agencies that attended the 2014 Career Fair, which can be viewed on their website.

This year's Career Fair will be held Friday, November 6, 2015, from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm at Tiffin University.

Criminal Justice Professors Hedrick and Spelman will be in attendance at the Fair, and students interested in attending should contact Dr. Spelman at jspelman at

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Criminal Justice Program Hosts Local and International Guest Speakers

This post is one of several which cover professional speakers the Criminal Justice Program brings into the classroom, allowing students to learn from and connect with experts who currently work in a variety of areas in the criminal justice field. Check out our recap post for a list of speakers the CJ Program hosted during the fall 2015 semester.

Recently the Ashland University Criminal Justice Program hosted two guest speakers in Professor Marc Hedrick’s Victimology class. The guest speakers spoke on a similar topic, violence against women. However, the speakers were speaking from two very different points of view, having witnessed firsthand the varying forms of violence that women endure.

Janelle Renwick
The first speaker was Janelle Renwick from Turning Point, a domestic violence shelter that serves both men and women, located in Marion, Ohio. Janelle spoke about her experience with women who come to the shelter after being victims of domestic violence. They oftentimes come with their children and with nothing but the clothes on their back. They face many obstacles, but it is Janelle’s job to help them in the way of assisting them to get counseling, aid, and life skills in order to break free from their victimization.

Janelle started her criminal justice career as a corrections officer in an all-male facility. However, she became disillusioned with the job after several months and realized that she wanted something different for her career. After a long search, she happened to come across her current position at Turning Point. She now says, “I love my job.”

Reverend Berthe Nzeba (right)
The Ashland University, Criminal Justice Program also collaborated with the Religion Department and the Ashland Center for Nonviolence to host Reverend Berthe Nzeba in the Victimology class. Reverend Nzeba is an ordained minister from the Congo. She and her family have experienced violence first hand, in the war-torn country, where there has been an estimated six (6) million related deaths due to war-related violence. Additionally, the women in the country are taken, used and sold as sex slaves. Reverend Nzeba now coordinates a national and international church effort to support women and children impacted by the violence in Eastern Congo. She came to Ashland University to educate the students about what is occurring there and asked them to think of ways they can make a difference.

Victimology students were also told, by Dr. Sue Dickson of the Religion Department, that one way they can make a difference was by serving as interns with the women and children’s international rescue ministry, Remember Nhu. Remember Nhu exists to prevent the exploitation of children in the sex trade industry throughout the world. Dr. Dickson now heads up coordinating internships for Remember Nhu.

Victimology is a relatively new field of study to criminal justice. Criminal justice has traditionally focused on the offenders, whether that was making sure they get all their due process rights or making sure they were properly punished. The victim has historically been left out of the entire process, but there has been a renewed emphasis on victims. The purpose of the Victimology course offered in the Criminal Justice Program at Ashland University is to look at the history of victims and the renewed focus on victims, both locally and internationally. The class exposes students to the realities that a criminal justice degree allows them to do more than just become a police officer or probation officer. There are many other jobs in and related to criminal justice, to include working with victims of all walks of life.