Great Jobs in Juvenile Justice panel

What: Hosted by Criminology Buffs

When: 4 p.m. Monday

Where: Education building, room 220

Panelists: Katie Ruske, program manager, Division of Youth Corrections; Ristana Panoff, supervisor, Boulder County Juvenile Assessment Center; Tammi Matthews, community corrections supervisor, Boulder County Juvenile Assessment Center; Nathan Thorn, supervisor, Boulder County Juvenile Assessment Center; Gabriel Granillo, staff member, Boulder County Juvenile Assessment Center

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Great Jobs in Criminal Justice panel

What: Hosted by Criminology Buffs

When: 4 p.m. April 21

Where: Education building, room 220

Panelists: Sandy Esters, detective, Longmont Police Department; Alison Gilles, probation case manager, Intervention Inc.; Steve Johnson, deputy director of investigations, Colorado Bureau of Investigation

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In a dark hallway on the University of Colorado campus, Boulder Police Detective Jack Gardner described the circumstances of a homicide to a group of students.


Though he spoke very seriously, Gardner was describing a fictional homicide for students in the Criminology Buffs club. The students were split into three teams tasked with correctly and accurately collecting evidence from the staged scene as part of a crime scene investigation competition earlier this week.

Inside classroom 2 in Guggenheim Geography, the fictitious murderer had scattered evidence everywhere. He or she had left blood on the floor and on several pieces of paper around the room, overturned desks and left half-eaten fruit on several chairs.

Graduate student Amanda Shigihara, who also helped coordinate the CSI competition, volunteered to act as the victim of the crime, even going so far as to smear fake blood on one side of her head.

Criminology Buffs started in the fall of 2012 to give students a chance to learn more about the world of criminal justice, juvenile criminal justice, the prison system and career paths in law enforcement, said sociology researcher Sarah Goodrum, who's a faculty adviser for the group along with associate professor Hillary Potter.

Part of the goal of the 32-member club, Goodrum said, is to dispel some of the myths created by television shows and movies about crime scene investigations and law enforcement careers.

"It's meant to be serious and to give them real-life understanding of the criminal legal system and how details are so important to the resolution of a case," Goodrum said.

Sophomore Ali Wasserman, who's studying Spanish and sociology, is a member of the club and is considering a career in the criminal justice system, perhaps as a police officer or on the legal side of things.

During the CSI competition, Wasserman looked through the 186-page investigation handbook given to the members of the club and said she appreciates the club's attention to the real details of crime scene investigations.

"People are more exposed to what we see on 'Criminal Minds' and on 'CSI,'" she said. "And it's not exactly how it is. It would have been really easy for (the organizers) to set up the yellow tape and be like, 'Who dunnit?'"

The club also fills a void at CU, which does not have a specific criminal justice major or department. Many students major in sociology or psychology, two subjects that include the study of crime, deviant behaviors, drug policy, the minds of criminals and other relevant topics.

This month, the club is hosting two panels on criminal justice careers. Guest speakers include detectives, a Colorado Bureau of Investigation official, a probation case manager, juvenile justice officials and others.

"Part of what we try to do as a group, too, is give students exposure to people who are working in the field, to help them for opportunities for internships, to learn about what they'd be getting into in the field and to give them some real-life insight into what it's going to actually be like for them if they were to pursue this as a possible profession," Goodrum said.

Matt Hunter, a sophomore studying international affairs, participated in a program throughout high school that allowed him to spend time with police officers learning different skills and techniques.

Though he may not investigate homicides for a living, Hunter said he's interested in pursuing some sort of law enforcement career later in life, and the club is giving him more information about his options.

"I don't know about being a detective, but definitely law enforcement later in life. (Bureau of) Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives or the Drug Enforcement Agency, something cool."

Contact Camera Staff Writer Sarah Kuta at 303-473-1106 or