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This release prepared by the Office of Public Relations and Marketing.
Rebecca Eidson, Director, 646-1507,
Lisa Garrett, Public Relations Associate, 646-1506,

New Criminalistics Course Brings Practical Applications of
Forensic Science to CRJ Curriculum at Tri-County


(By Lisa Garrett)

PENDLETON --- About a year ago, Jonathan McCombs had the idea of developing a course to bring the practical applications of forensic science to the law enforcement curriculum at Tri-County Technical College. When McCombs, who is program coordinator for the College’s Criminal Justice department, asked for feedback at a Criminal Justice advisory committee meeting, everyone in attendance gave a thumbs up on adding criminalistics to the curriculum.

He also knew there was a lot of student interest in forensic science and the crime scene aspect of law enforcement. “CSI shows are so plentiful these days. Sixty million Americans watch these shows,” added McCombs.

“When I mentioned to students that the class would be on the summer school schedule, the next day 25 names were on the roster. This is the largest summer class we’ve ever had,” he added. Criminalistics will begin May 16 and will run through July 24. The class is an elective and is open to new and returning students. The class is filling up fast, McCombs, said, and the deadline for registration is May 12.

The class is different in that it will teach how to locate physical evidence and what can and can’t be done, he said. “Forensic science is so important to law enforcement,” he added. “You can make or break a case by recovering evidence and processing it properly.” McCombs, who will teach the class, says it will include lab exercises fingerprinting, photography and evidence collection.

“Five years ago, juries took the word of police officers more credibly. Now officers need more direct evidence,” explained McCombs. “There is always physical evidence to identify a suspect or clues as to what happened at the crime site. In this course, we will emphasize the practical applications of forensic science and the forensic impact at the crime scene. McCombs added that this is different from Southern Wesleyan University’s new forensic science major, which prepares students for careers in crime laboratories and other public safety settings.

Tri-County’s Criminal Justice program continues to grow, he said. “We have around 200 students enrolled in the major, with 130 attending full time on campus, 40 - 50 students who are earning their degrees completely online and 20 who are combining online study with the traditional classroom setting.”

Tri-County grads are prepared for entry-level jobs in security, protective services, corrections and court administration. The degree doesn’t mean they will all work in the government sector. They also can work in the private sector as private investigators, security officers, loss prevention and other related professions.

McCombs added that since 9-11 security-related jobs are more abundant due to a more security-conscious society.

“Our students are prepared for the workforce,” he said. “We put a large emphasis on the law so they are familiar with case law and how the court systems work because that is typically the most confusing part of the job, and it is ever changing. Other components of the curriculum are community policing, criminal investigation, police administration, criminology and now forensic science.


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