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UNCP takes part in first Criminal Justice Games

By Dan Kelly
Sports Editor  

It is a brooding night at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke as a student, Lisa Allen, exits the Dial building’s north side after her night class.            

Suddenly, a shrill voice is heard and Allen is tackled to the ground.

The entire UNCP team, right, following the medal ceremony, from left to right, Lisa Allen, Silas Soto, Stacey Bartlette, Brent Tyler, Amanda Richmond, Ed Lechliter, Dr. Fran Fuller, Jenilee Pike, Jessica Godsey, Dot Moore and Corrine Raybuck.

Photo by Dan Kelly
The entire UNCP team, right, following the medal ceremony, from  left to right, Lisa Allen, Silas Soto, Stacey Bartlette, Brent Tyler, Amanda Richmond, Ed Lechliter, Dr. Fran Fuller, Jenilee Pike, Jessica Godsey, Dot Moore and Corrine Raybuck.

Just as soon as the assault begins, it ends with Allen lying motionless and the perpetrator escaping into the darkness.            

As Det. Tyler delves  into the investigation, he learns that Allen was having a relationship with a married man whose wife had been threatening and stalking her.

That obsessed wife is none other than UNCP Professor Jenilee Pike.            

It won’t be up to veteran crime scene investigators to match these fingerprints, but groups of criminal justice students across North Carolina.

The previous fictional scenario is part of UNCP’s entry into the CJ College Olympic Games that took place March 23 and 24 in Edneyville, N.C.            

Seven North Carolina schools showed up for the two-part competition at the Larry T. Justus Western Justice Academy:
• University of North Carolina at Pembroke
• Nash Community College
• Forsyth Technical Community College
• University of North Carolina at Wilmington
• Surrey  County College
• Wayne Community College
• Coastal Carolina Community College            

The competition began with the schools competing in criminal justice “Jeopardy” on the first day and working on the school-created CSI stages the next day.

A third competition involves three judges deciding on the best stage in terms of design.            

Dr. Fran Fuller, associate professor of UNCP’s sociology and criminal justice department, deserves a great deal of credit for shaping a unique idea into reality.            

“When you are doing something that’s never been done before, you have to convince everyone that they can do it,” Fuller said.

The UNCP scenario, left, with three different stages involving fingerprint matching.

Photos by Dan Kelly
The UNCP scenario, left, with three different stages involving fingerprint matching.

Fuller actually credited the original idea to two other NCCJA members Kristie Baity and Jim Plezewski, who came up with the ideas for the “Jeopardy” and the CSI competition.            

The competition, though, was primarily meant to be a learning experience that would expose students to more aspects of criminal justice than the students probably realized.            
           
“What you’re doing is training young people how to tend to a number of things at the same time,” Fuller said.   

The first place this was noticeable was how the criminal justice jeopardy and crime scene building happened simultaneously, forcing teams to organize into groups that would focus on specific tasks.             
           
The “Jeopardy” portion involved each team sending an individual against two others from different schools while answering criminal justice trivia, in the form of a question, of course.          

The trivia ranged from easy fare relating to popular movies like “The Shawshank Redemption” to constitutional law questions.
           
Concurrent to the trivia, the teams that planned out CSI stages were setting them up for competition the next day.          

Of the seven teams that showed up, only UNCP, Forsyth and Nash had CSI stages.            
           
The teams that didn’t have one could still compete in the stages but obviously not in the stage-design competition.

The Larry T. Justus Western Justice Academy, right, was the venue for the CJ Olympics.

Photo by Dan Kelly
The Larry T. Justus Western Justice Academy, right, was the venue for the CJ Olympics.

The UNCP team consisted of nine students: Amanda Richmond, Brent Tyler, Corrine Raybuck, Dot Moore, Jenilee Pike, Lisa Allen, Stacey Bartlette, Silas Soto and Ed Lechliter.            
           
If a few of those names seem familiar, that’s because the previous grisly murder scene was a 20-minute video used as a backdrop for the UNCP scenario.

           

The three stages of their scenario become more complex as there is a progression from simple fingerprint matching to inferring what the evidence means to both sides of the case.            
           
“For instance, (if) the officer’s fingerprints are found on the knife…this absolutely shows the officer screwed up the investigation,” said Jessica Godsey, assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice and UNCP’s coach.            

The other two stages offered different challenges for the competitors.            
           
Forsyth Technical Community College staged a scenario outdoors with a rubber dummy placed in the bushes.

The team clearly strived to create an extremely realistic crime scene by marking off an inner and outer perimeter and creating a logbook for everyone entering and exiting the scene.           

           

“Hopefully, maybe they can walk away with a little spark of the passion we have,” said Stefanie Barton, Forsyth student competitor.

The Nash Community College team also set their scenario outdoors but required the competitors to be far cleverer than in other stages.            

“If they paid attention…they would notice it (blood) is pooling at the front of his face,” said Cherie Silver, Nash student competitor.         

The pooling at the face and the lack of apparent wounds would lead an investigator to believe that the man was not murdered.
           
The second day of competition involved the six teams buzzing around these three stages and living out their eventual goal of being investigators.          

UNCP was only able to finish the Nash Community College stage and most of the Forsyth one until time expired and the final scores had to be tabulated.            
           
In that Nash stage, UNCP student competitor Amanda Richmond felt good about how the team performed but the stage judge also pointed out what they missed.            

“We didn’t search beyond the scene, you know, maybe something was down in the creek,” Richmond said.            
           
Once the competition finished, everyone gathered in one of the Academy’s classrooms to await the final score and listen to closing remarks from the NCCJA President David Streater.            

The judges gave the award ranking the stages in the competition.
            • First place, Forsyth Technical Community College
            • Second place, University of North Carolina at Pembroke
            • Third place, Nash Community College            

Afterwards, there was a good-natured medal ceremony where large stacks of them were given out and a large portion of the competitors received one.            
           
Soon, the Justice Academy returned to its nearly silent state as crime scenes were cleaned and everyone bid their farewells.        

“Competition is not fun while you’re doing it, it hurts. Where competition is really fun is after it’s all over,” Fuller said.

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Updated: Tuesday, April 17, 2007
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