News Center

Back to News Center

Mock crime scene gives Morrisville State College students hands-on lesson in investigating, collecting evidence

MORRISVILLE, N.Y. —Ricky DeMers pulled out a pair of gloves, grabbed a small brush and proceeded to lift fingerprints off of a mirror. Nearby, Justin DeLaMothe was photographing scattered evidence—an ax, littered coins, glass, and multiple contusions on a female victim’s arm.

The mock park crime scene was just one created in assistant professor Clare Armstrong-Seward’s Introduction to Criminal Justice class to provide students with a learning experience in collecting evidence.

DeMers, a liberal arts student and DeLaMothe, a business administration student, are taking the class as an elective, while others are taking it as a requirement toward their four-year bachelor of technology degree in criminal justice.

The three-credit course teaches the fundamentals, giving students an overall view of the field. Later, they have the option of taking more in-depth investigative classes, crime scene management, arson investigation, or those in penal law, and white collar crime. Students in the criminal justice bachelor degree program are required to complete a full-time internship in the field.

Throughout the past three weeks, students in Armstrong’s introduction course have been learning how to handle and collect evidence. “Now they get to see what it is actually like to collect it and they are learning that it isn’t as easy as it looks on television,” she said.

Students worked in groups on different, simplified crime scenes, one of them serving as the lieutenant in charge of the investigation. Each team’s task was to isolate, contain and photograph the scene, take measurements, sketch the scene, and gather evidence within the 75-minute class timeframe.

Kayla Mejia, a criminal justice bachelor of technology degree major planning a career in a homicide unit, welcomed the assignment and the chance to be the lieutenant on the case.

“This is very intense,” she said. “I am realizing that a lot goes into an investigation. There is a lot more than you see on television and one wrong move can destroy the whole crime scene.”

Antonio Hernandez volunteered to be the lieutenant in his group, which was busy numbering evidence and sketching the scene at an apartment building where two mock victims were found dead. Hernandez is in the four-year criminal justice program.

During their next class, students will conduct an analysis and try to solve the crime, followed by a review of the crime scene and what they learned.

Morrisville State College offers two criminal justice degrees, an associate degree at its Norwich campus and a bachelor of technology degree at the Morrisville campus.

Morrisville State College, one of the most technologically advanced colleges in the nation for its ThinkPad University program and wireless technology initiative, offers more than 80 bachelor and associate degrees and options.

The Morrisville State College Norwich Campus offers associate degree programs in accounting, business, computer systems technology, office administration, liberal arts transfer, nursing, early childhood, criminal justice and human services to south central New York residents and employers. Students may also apply coursework to other associate or bachelor degrees at the Morrisville campus.