Before becoming a criminal justice professor, what was your experience in the field?
I have a variety of experience with interning in an acute and chronic mental illness ward, juvenile detention centers, and NYS Youth Justice Program, and working for Alberta Health Canada, focusing on resilience/adversity. Despite these experiences, my true interest was teaching and inspiring students to learn. There is nothing more rewarding than having students believe in themselves.
What makes our criminal justice program stand out from others?
The field of criminal justice is a multidisciplinary profession. People from many professions come together to work on the response to crime and its victims. Not only does our program present the opportunity to study responses to crime, but we also examine criminal/deviant behavior and why people abstain from crime. Using a multidisciplinary approach, students realize that crime is not just an enforcement problem.
The best way for a student to learn and retain information is to apply concepts to real-life events. Since criminal justice is always at the forefront of the media and great concern to the public, we provide ways for students to understand the world around them. We also encourage internships so that students learn first-hand what certain careers entail.
How does the Cold Case Analysis Center contribute to a student’s education? How does it contribute to the broader community?
The Uniform Crime Report estimates that our nation currently has 250,000 unsolved murders, a number that increases by about 6,000 each year. Unsolved cases mean mounting caseloads, which drain resources and result in higher costs for agencies with limited budgets. As the number of unsolved cases mounts, they tend to take a back seat to new cases that may have a higher likelihood of being solved; meanwhile, task forces and investigators come and go. In response to this problem, some agencies have formed their own cold case units, however, not all agencies have the resources to do this.
Addressing this mounting problem in the criminal justice system, Saint Rose developed the Cold Case Analysis Center (CCAC). The CCAC provides training and experience to students in unsolved case investigation and analysis while forming relationships with community agencies and contributing resources to local law enforcement. The CCAC is built upon other successful partnerships with victims’ families, community agencies, and law enforcement to tackle these unsolved crimes and missing person cases. The CCAC offers cold case assistance to law enforcement through the following services, including, but not limited to: research requests, case organization/reorganization for maximum usage, promoting media coverage of cases to revive community assistance, and generating funds to advance investigations.
What type of exposure have your students had by participating in the CCAC?
The interns from CCAC have organized case material and researched cases to be in podcasts, such as WGY and iHeartRadio’s Upstate Unsolved and News Channel 13’s Crime Academy. With these partnerships, we can restimulate public interest and encourage tips to be brought forward.
When students graduate and complete their internship at CCAC, what do they go on to do in their careers?
Most of our CCAC students continue on to graduate school, counseling, social work, or policing. Furthermore, our interns have reported how being part of the CCAC impressed people during job interviews.
How is Saint Rose preparing students for the future of our criminal justice system?
By having our students understand crime with a multidisciplinary perspective, it helps the student develop many ways to approach a problem. With this perspective, the student realizes how crime involves many professions (ranging from human services to enforcement) and can select the career that suits them the best.