By KARA GAE NEAL
SOLVING CRIMES: From left, Matt Rodrock, Collinsville High School; Cheyenne Cowles, Berryhill High School; Darcus Calloway, Nathan Hale High School; and Josh Keen, Skiatook High School examine evidence in Tulsa Tech’s Criminal Justice Forensics Lab.
Courtesy Tulsa Tech
Most of the furniture in the classroom had been knocked over. There were a number of items scattered about, and what appeared to be blood was visible on the floor. The signature yellow police tape covering the door of the classroom identified the location as off-limits and the scene of a serious crime. Several students and witnesses had already been questioned, with some being finger-printed in an effort to identify or rule out suspects. Access to the apparent crime scene was strictly limited, as detectives worked methodically to photograph and collect all types of forensic evidence.
Every person at the scene of the crime had an interest in solving this case; they were all students currently studying in Tulsa Tech’s Criminal Justice program.
This unique two-year program allows high school students to learn about civil law, the courts, and corrections, which make up our modern criminal justice system. The program combines classroom work with hands-on training and utilizes a new forensics lab, driving simulator, police vehicle, and a video system capable of re-creating situations that professional law enforcement officers frequently encounter.
“I really enjoy learning how to use all of the equipment,” Josh Kern, a student from Skiatook high school says. “It’s not just reading about everything in a book, we actually train with the same equipment used in law enforcement.”
Cheyenne Cowles, a Berryhill high school student who would eventually like to work with a K-9 unit, agrees. “The program is really interesting,” Cowles says. “We’re learning how our laws and courts work together, how to document a crime scene, and even how to use a real fingerprint kit.”
Many of the students in the Criminal Justice program are interested in a law enforcement career, however, this two-year program also lets students examine many different careers associated with the overall criminal justice system.
According to Richard Stewart, the instructor for second-year students and former officer with the Bixby Police Department, the program offers many different career paths. “Not every student wants to be a police officer,” Stewart explained. “They may be interested in becoming a prosecuting attorney, public defender, forensic technician, or a dispatcher.”
During their first year, students study a wide range of topics and learn how all of the components of the criminal justice system work together.
“We begin by studying the legal system, using effective communications, and learning how to write reports,” Tracee Rathbone, the program’s instructor for first-year students, and an officer with the Owasso Police Department, explains. “As we continue through the year, students learn more about criminal law, techniques for gathering evidence, and dispatch procedures for police, fire and ambulance calls.”
Many of the students in the program haven’t decided on a career, but Darcus Calloway, a second-year student from Nathan Hale high school, is looking forward to the next step of his dream of working in law enforcement. “After completing the first year of the program I knew this is what I wanted to do,” Calloway says. “Tech has been a great place to learn about the criminal justice system and it gives me a chance to start my career while I’m in high school.”
Tulsa Tech supports all of the young men and women who are studying to preserve our laws and contribute to a safer community.
If you’re currently looking for exciting classes for high school and adult students, quality business and industry training, or would like to investigate a new career, Tulsa Tech invites you to visit today. For more information, please call 918-828-5200 or visit online at tulsatech.edu.