INA - Those who like to try and solve the cases on the hit show “CSI” will love Rend Lake College’s course in Criminalistics. The hours spent analyzing how Horatio Caine and Gil Grissom cracked the case could be spent earning college credit while learning to solve fictional cases such as those seen on the show.
The college’s course equivalent to CSI is Criminalistics – a classroom classic at RLC that teaches students the whodunit how-to of modern criminal investigation.
Criminalistics (CRJS 2207-01) allows students to dive into the role of a crime-scene investigator, which is now globally popular with the ongoing hit-show, “CSI.”
Taught by Criminal Justice Professor Ed Heischmidt, the course introduces students to the various ways that a crime laboratory examines evidence in criminal cases. A CSI must be capable of comprehending the scope of a crime scene and skilled at rapidly planning a strategy to extract all useful information from the crime scene.
Heischmidt said students are most enthusiastic when the crime scene kit is out, the barrier tape is up and the search is on.
“I incorporate actual crime scene photos,” he said. “A highlight of the course, for most of them, is when they go through hands-on demonstrations of crime scenes with the photos. We set up crime scenes with an old Resusci Anne manikin wearing a wig and clothing. I plant evidence and they utilize the skills they have learned in the course, such as crime scene photography and diagraming the scene. When they are searching a scene, they aren’t necessarily looking for only the smoking gun. They are looking for other evidence such as DNA, hair and fibers.”
He also instructs students on how to prepare evidence for use in a laboratory as well as laboratory analysis of evidence.
Scientific aspects of the course emerge students into process of examining physical evidence for that one clue that could catch the killer or reopen a cold case from the past. Topics include the common types of hazards an investigator may be exposed to at a crime scene, methods and strategies of analyzing a crime scene, ways of photographing a crime scene, sketching and demonstrative exhibits, the recognition of objects possessing evidential value, proper packaging and preserving of evidence and many more.
Heischmidt said he uses the cases of notorious killers to teach students about Criminalistics. Two examples are John Wayne Gacy and Ted Bundy.
In Gacy’s case, the sex of some victims had to be determined from skeletal remains, he said. A Florida jury convicted Bundy based on evidence of his unique bite marks found on his victims, he explained.
The course is only available in the spring semester. It will meet from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m., Fridays, from Jan. 12 to May 11. According to Heischmidt, available slots for Criminalistics in the spring semester are filling up fast.
Criminalistics is just one course in the Criminal Justice Program at RLC.
In addition to Criminalistics, Heischmidt teaches Criminal Law (CRJS 2209-51) and Criminal Procedure (CRJS 2206-01 and 51).
In Criminal Law, students explore the history and development of the criminal law as a system of social control. Emphasis is placed on legal principles and substantive law. The elements of a crime, specific statutes against crime and various defenses to a criminal charge are analyzed as well.
Students who enroll in Criminal Procedure are taken on a learning adventure that starts with the initial investigation and ends with the determination of punishment. Some topics of focus are the rules of evidence pertaining to search and seizure as well as legally prescribed methods for arresting a suspected criminal. Constitutional guidelines and U.S. Supreme Court decisions are reviewed in the course.
Those looking for a quick course to become qualified in a field relative to criminal justice can look no further than the single-semester Private Investigator course offered at Rend Lake College.
In just 48 hours, through 18 days of class, students can become certified private investigators through RLC’s course (CRJS 1208-51). Classes meet from 6 – 8:50 p.m., on Mondays, Jan. 8 – May 7.
In addition to CRJS 1208-51, students must successfully complete a basic training and firearms qualification course for Illinois certification as a private investigator. The two-day course is held on Saturdays at a shooting range.
Additional Criminal Justice courses are Criminal Investigation, Criminal Justice Administration, Community-Based Corrections, Juvenile Justice and Police Traffic Functions.
To enroll in the Criminal Justice Program, or for more information about any of the Criminal Justice courses offered at Rend Lake College, one may contact Heischmidt at 618-437-5321, Ext. 1278 or 1-800-369-5321, Ext. 1278 (in-district only).