Tyler Junior College’s Criminal Justice Program has grown in popularity in the last few years due to Hollywood and TV shoes such as, CSI, Law & Order and many others, which have glamorized the field. Some students who have attended the Criminal Justice classes have found it to be an eye opener.
“We just have to break the myth that they don’t get to drive big SUV’s, dress like they do, or get to go in there and do some of the things they do on TV because it’s just TV,” Jason Waller, department chair of the Criminal Justice department said. “By the time they get to the forensics, the special topics and violent crimes courses, they pretty much realize what reality is, and what myth is.”
In its fourth year, the Criminal Justice has had two full groups of students graduate, and has gained much interest from high school students through visits. TJC’s professional and technical programs have made the effort to keep their courses up to date to prepare students for the workplace.
“The class teaches the basic skill sets; crime scene photography, documentation, packaging and evidence, blood spatter interpretation, some tool mark collection, shoe and tire impression documentation and collection and building a portfolio by the end of the semester to show employers their knowledge from the class,” said Waller.
Students have had different ideas of what they wanted to get out of the class.
“I was looking forward to getting more hands-on with finger printing, learning how to solve a crime scene in all different aspects, learning all the different methods of finding criminals who commit different crimes and, most importantly, learning how things are put together to solve different crimes,” said Brittney Lee, sophomore Criminal Justice major.
Lee wants to become part of FBI or S.W.A.T. and then possibly become a detective. Her excitement and eagerness to learn about the field has not changed due to the loads of homework.
“My interest has not changed within the time period I have been in the class. Nothing could change my mind about the field of study I am in,” said Lee.
Another current student Kaylee Hillhouse, a sophomore majoring in Criminal Justice, who wants to become an investigator or adult probation officer, also commented on what she wants to get from the class.
“I’m looking forward to learning and getting more in-depth with the investigating process, what to look for when a crime has been committed or homicide has taken place to track down and identify a suspect. I think this class is going to be great at teaching us specific details and clues on how to exactly go about working a crime scene,” Hillhouse said.
Hillhouse’s enthusiasm towards the class has not changed and neither has her perspective.
“I’m beyond excited to see how this class turns out,” Hillhouse said.
The law enforcement field has expanded greatly, and provides jobs to those that fit the qualifications
“There are lots of jobs,” Waller said. “This is one of those job fields seeing a lot of growth, because cities are growing, especially in Texas. It depends on the location and it comes in cycles. There was a couple years ago here in Texas to where Houston PD had 600 positions open, because they had 600 people retire. As agencies grow, their departments grow (and) so do job opportunities,” said Waller.