New Minor Offered at HSU: Criminal Justice Students Learn about Crime Scene Investigation and Forensic Evidence

New Minor Offered at HSU: Criminal Justice Students Learn about Crime Scene Investigation and Forensic Evidence

By Janlyn Thaxton

 

 

 

Students in Hardin-Simmons University’s forensic evidence class recently toured the Abilene Police Department’s forensic lab where they tried their hand at fingerprint and blood spatter detection. Students are learning about such evidence-gathering techniques in a new minor being offered at HSU.{{more}}The new Forensics Studies minor equips students with the investigative skills required for identification, apprehension, and prosecution of criminal offenders. Sandy Self, associate professor of political science and the director of Forensics Studies says, “The curriculum blends crime scene analysis, laboratory analysis, behavioral analysis, and criminal law into the 19 academic hours students need to complete the minor.”Self made her transition from the courtroom to the classroom when she came to HSU in 2003 after practicing law for 17 years. Self served 10 years as a prosecutor, three years in private practice and four years as a special litigation attorney for Child Protective Services. She currently serves as a member of the Abilene Civil Service Commission and as president of the Abilene Young Lawyers Association.The new minor she heads up includes intriguing courses like Crime Scene Investigation, and Criminal Profiling; and more comprehensive courses like Terrorism and Homeland Security. The new minor is also interdisciplinary, offering both biology and psychology classes like Topics in Forensic Science, which includes lab work, and the Psychology of Crime.Self says, “Classes like these are important because criminal justice system technology continues to evolve, so academic programs dedicated to teaching criminal justice studies have to deliver realistic forensic investigation courses to its students.”“Forensic investigation is increasingly playing an important role in the pursuit of justice,” says Self. “However, the reality of forensic investigation is not the clear-cut endeavor that is portrayed in many television programs and other mass media sources.” Self says students interested in careers in law enforcement and the legal profession will find this unique track very challenging and rewarding. “Forensic investigation techniques, when used appropriately, can be an incredible tool for practitioners and society. Used inappropriately, forensic investigation techniques can generate error and injustice in the system,” says Self.She adds that the program’s objective is to develop a sound educational foundation for graduate work or professional practice at the bachelor’s level.Required Courses: 10 hours• BIOL 3303 and 3103 Topics in Forensic Science and the Forensic Science Laboratory • POLS/CRIJ 4313 Forensic Evidence and Expert Witness Testimony • CSCI 3332 Introduction to Computer ForensicsElective Courses: Students may choose any three• CRIJ 2301 Criminal Investigation• POLS/CRIJ 2306 Evidence and Procedure• POLS/CRIJ 3307 Criminal Law• PSYC 3335 Psychology of Crime• CRIJ 3311 Crime Scene Investigation• CRIJ 4309 Terrorism and Homeland Security• CRIJ 4355 Search and Seizure• CRIJ 4309 Criminal Profiling The term forensic investigation refers to the use of science and/or technology in the investigation and establishment of facts or evidence to be used in criminal justice and other legal proceedings. Forensic investigation is a rather broad field with many different subdivisions. The American Academy of Forensic Science and the International Association for Identification are major professional organizations that advance the application of scientific methods and their relevance in the legal system.