TYLER – Final exams on paper are one way to find out what a student knows. But the final exam for the Criminalistics II course at Tyler Junior College took a different form. TJC’s Pirtle Technology Center was transformed into a mock crime scene for the student’s final exam. The scene was secured with crime scene tape. It included empty alcohol containers, fired bullet casings, stage-prop-style weapons, imitation blood stains, and a crime scene dummy that simulated a body. There was also a dirt area outside with shoe impressions. Next semester, many of these students will continue their criminal justice education with a more intense class in the associate degree program.
Professor Jason Waller, who also serves as department chair for TJC’s Law and Public Service Careers, had set up the mock crime scene for his students to “investigate” the simulated crime. The students arrived at the scene early that afternoon and began processing the area, carrying out their assigned duties. Students examined the “evidence,” taking photos and recording statistics about each element and its position. Then, they bagged the evidence to be evaluated on how they processed each item. “The criminalistics courses at TJC allow these students to gain experience in simulated situations so that they will be prepared to conduct real crime scene investigations in their careers,” Waller said.