The Criminal Justice Club is ready to roar back into action after COVID-19 made it difficult to do many in-person events last year. The group has set its sights on broadening the general understanding of the criminal justice system in a way that is sociable and interactive.
In past events, the club has hosted visits from representatives of Customs and Border Patrol, who have brought in drug-sniffing dogs and demonstrated various procedures. Representatives of the Environmental Protection Agency have also come in to give a speech, and there’s even active shooter training. They have also participated in a shooter simulation, . Club members took a trip to a security facility and participated in simulated events of a “shoot, don’t shoot” scenario. The prop gun they used had a sensor as opposed to live rounds, and members had to make instinctive decisions if they were going to shoot or not.
The club’s activities have proven to be useful to students from various disciplines, especially in fields related to criminal justice, providing them with real-life applications of their studies, networking opportunities, and access to resources.
“The club is a great tool for students in the field to network and plan out their futures,” University Police Lieutenant Darren Barcomb, faculty advisor to the club and former member, said. “It’s very rewarding to see the outcome of their efforts as they venture into the career field.”
The club has also helped members grow on a more personal level.
“It helped me open up because I’m a very shy person, I cannot do presentations,” Kiaria Vasquez, the vice president of the club, said. “It helped me put myself out there to speak in front of people because I literally couldn’t do that before.”
Even if criminal justice isn’t your major, the club is welcoming to all perspectives and encourages them because it enriches the conversation. The club will even do collaborations with other clubs to bring different viewpoints.
Samantha Alvarez, the club president, plans on having group discussions about current events relating to the criminal justice system which has been and will continue to be a hot topic for debate. She wants members to speak their minds.
The club fosters a sense of community within because the advisor is a member of the University Police and that helps bridge the gap between the campus community and University Police.
“I’d say it’s family because Barcomb has become such an advisor to me as far as internships or if I just want to stop by and say hi,” Alvarez said. “He even gave me a special breast cancer awareness university police patch and I’ll always remember that as the time I spent two and a half years as a member of this club.”
Barcomb offers less of a police presence and more of an advisor presence. He will ask members of the club what their interests are and will try his hardest to bring in someone who can serve that interest, and he even offers ride alongs. Such steps and activities help foster a sense of togetherness within the group and elevate it from a club to a family.