|In a mock exercise Thursday, MTSU criminal justice students taking a Crime Scene Investigation class posed as police officers responding to “shots fired” call.
Carrying a play handgun, they crept through the crime scene searching for evidence and found a murdered “body.” At different points during the exercise, Murfreesboro Police Detective Capt. Chris Guthrie acted as a man armed with a handgun or shotgun, sometimes firing on the student.
Student Jessica Maza thought the exercise would be less serious.
“I got shot in the back of the head,” Maza said.
Fellow student Sean Leiser said an officer must secure the crime scene for evidence.
“This makes you realize how hard it is to keep track of different things and evidence,” Leiser said.
Afterwards, Police Maj. Jim Gage asked the students to list the 26 pieces of evidence including spent shell casings, a candy bar, flashlight, walkie-talkie and a play Volkswagen bus.
Professor Dennis Powell watched the exercise, explaining how his class works with law enforcement agencies to conduct the mock drills.
Students interact with police officers and bond with the officers, Powell said.
Police Maj. Clyde Adkison said officers help students get some practical exercises for the evidence classes.
“Instead of just book learning, they literally do some police training,” Adkison said. “I think it helps their decisions” to enter the criminal justice field.
Powell said about 400 to 450 students major in Criminal Justice. Graduates have become judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation directors and police officers. MTSU partners with Tennessee State University to offer a master’s degree in criminal justice.