Criminal Investigative Theory Syllabus
Dr. Tod W. Burke
College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences
NOT OFFICIAL UNTIL FIRST DAY OF CLASS
*Syllabus subject to change*
(Section 01) # 21632 Tuesday/Thursday 11:00-12:15
Office: Russell Hall (Dean's Office), Room 133
Work Phone: 831-5149
Fax : 831-5970 E-mail: email@example.com
Office Hours: Tuesday 1:30-2:30
*Subject to change. Appointments available or just walk on in to chat (if I am available)
This course is designed to give the student practical and theoretical knowledge of criminal investigation. Much of the material and classroom discussion will focus on the initial responding officer at the crime scene, as well as follow-up investigations by detectives and crime lab personnel. The basic format of instruction is lecture/discussion, although practical exercises by the students will be required. Class participation plays a vital role in the success of this course. The student is expected to attend each class. If, by some chance, a student misses a class, he/she is responsible for the material covered during that class period.
Upon completion of this course, students should be able to:
demonstrate an understanding of each step in the criminal investigative process.
demonstrate an understanding of the investigative needs specific to particular types of crimes.
critically evaluate the assumptions, principles and practices that underlies criminal investigation, with an emphasis on improvement of the investigative process.
apply the principles of law and scientific evidence to the investigative process.
There will be no exams, or for that matter, formal research papers, in this class (How great is that?). However, (you knew this was coming), students will be graded based upon quizzes, laboratory exercises, book club assignments and attendance/participation (more information below).
points maximum) - see comments below
Labs (10 points maximum) - see comments below
Book Club (100 points maximum) - see requirements below
Attendance - see below
Each quiz will be valued up to 25 points and will be hypothetical/essay/short answers and may cover any material covered in lecture, classroom discussion, guest speakers, news items, videos, etc. All quizzes will be administered at the beginning of the class period (and will most likely take between 10-15 minutes to complete). Following each quiz, classroom discussion will follow as per the lesson plan (no need to rush out the door). Note: If a student leaves class prior to the completion of his or her quiz, the quiz will be collected and considered complete at that point. Students will not be allowed to make-up a missed quiz unless arrangements have been made between the professor and student prior to the quiz. Students arriving late to class will likely miss all or part of the quiz.
Comment on quizzes: As you can see, quiz dates are not posted. This is because I expect you to have some ownership on the pace of the course. I do not wish to rush through material simply to meet a quiz date. That being said, you will be notified at least one week prior to the upcoming quiz via e-mail and in-class discussion. I will also notify you on the material that you will be held accountable for for that quiz. Do NOT wait until the last minute to study. All quizzes will require critical thinking and application.
Practicum exercises (see below) will be valued up to 10 points each. The specific requirements for each lab will be noted in class (assignments may require group work and will require out-of-class meetings). Practicum may or may not occur during a class meeting day, so please make the necessary arrangements when requested to do so. Make-up for practicum exercises will not be granted, so please do not bother to ask (sorry!). You must attend and actively participate in the exercise to receive credit points! (See Expectations & Professionalism below). Some of the grades for practicum exercises may be determined by your group (classmate) supervisor, when applicable. The professor has final determination of a student's practicum points.
Comment of practicum: Practicum
dates will be announced at last one week in advance.
At the end of each class session, the student will have approximately 2 minutes to record the central issue(s) discussed during that class period. The student should include any points that were of interest and any points that remain unclear, if any. This should provide the student an opportunity to ask for clarification during the next class session, as well as to inform the professor on any points that were unclear and need to be revisited.
Book Club Assignment
No textbook is required for this course (Oh Boy, yet again!). In lieu of a textbook, you will read and review a book (either fiction or non-fiction) concerning issues in criminal investigation (see books below). Your book will be randomly assigned (through a grab-bag) in the first class session following the schedule adjustment period (drop-add). Therefore, do NOT purchase any book until your book has been assigned (see below). Copies of your book will be available at the Radford University Bookstore; however, you may also obtain your book from your local or online bookseller.
After your book has been selected, you will meet with other classmates who have also selected the same book to form a Book Club. This is a group project. Over the course of the semester, you will be working collaboratively with your classmates to analyze and review your book. Therefore, you need to set up an initial group meeting to review the requirements of this assignment and to determine your group’s meeting times and due dates.
At this initial group meeting, you should plan the rest of your meeting times for the semester. You will need to meet at least three times between Thursday, January 29th and Wednesday, March 25th, to engage in discussion of your book. At each meeting, you will be discussing one-third of your book. The 3rd paper will be due on or before Thursday, March 26th.
Divide your book into approximate thirds to determine which chapters (or pages) you will discuss at each meeting. In scheduling your meetings, be sure to consider group members’ workloads and schedules, as well as the amount of time you think it will take to read each section of the book. Meetings should be during reasonable hours and scheduled for a public meeting place (e.g., library, Young Hall, the Bonnie, campus meeting rooms, etc.). Be advised, I (or my designee) reserve the right to attend your meetings, on an unannounced basis.
You will also need to meet as a group to discuss your group paper and to rehearse your group presentation. These meetings should be held after the three meetings noted above.
You must submit the meeting times and locations (as well as the due dates for your meeting materials - see 2-d below) to my graduate student (and me) for our records via e-mail (one e-mail per group should suffice; so designate one group member to do so).
The process for the project is as follows:
You should plan to have obtained a
copy of the book, and to have started reading it, no later than
Thursday, January 29st.
Your group will meet three times to discuss the book. Here is the process that you should follow for each of the three group meetings:
a. No later than 48 hours prior to each meeting, prepare a journal entry. The entry should consist of two parts, each of which is thoughtful, well-written, and approximately one page each (typed, double spaced, not including headings) in length.
i. First, you should provide a broad summary of the chapters/pages that you read. You need not document every detail of the chapters, but should strive for a concise but complete overview of the main storylines. You should include any specific stories or examples that you thought were particularly interesting, important or relevant (and be sure to explain why you thought they were so).
ii. Second, you should provide a reflection on the assigned chapters/pages. Your reaction in this section should go beyond “I liked it” or “I didn’t like it,” and beyond “it was interesting” or “it was not interesting.” Instead, you should provide a thoughtful analysis that addresses issues such as, but not limited to, those listed below:
- How does the book illustrate (or not illustrate) material from class, including lectures, discussions, current events, videos, etc.?
- What does the book illustrate that the criminal investigative process does well, and why? What does the book illustrate that the criminal investigative process does not do well, and why?
- Is there any situation that you would have handled differently in that section of the book? Why and how?
- Does this section of the book raise any investigative questions (policy/ethical/ factual/procedural/etc.) and, if so, what are they and why?
- What is your opinion (beyond like/dislike/interesting/uninteresting/ important/unimportant) of the issues presented in this section of the book, and/or how they are conveyed?
In other words, the purpose of the second section is for you to critically analyze the section of the book that you have read, and to write about the opinions that you have developed as a result. Consider the book as a case-study in investigations and how you would assess it.
b. No later than 48 hours prior to each meeting, circulate one discussion question to your fellow group members. As the name suggests, discussion questions should stimulate discussion. If someone could turn to a page in the book and retrieve a factual answer to the question, then that’s not a discussion question. A good discussion question should be interesting, should not necessarily have an immediately apparent clear-cut answer, and should provide room for intelligent conversation that extends or enriches the text.
c. Hold your group meeting. Meetings should be from an hour to an hour-and-a-half in length. You should focus your discussion along two dimensions:
i. First, you should address the discussion questions posed by group members. In your discussion, work to thoroughly engage with the material, moving beyond cursory responses. You may find that you spend greater amounts of time discussing some questions, and that you do not have time to address all questions in their entirety. That is fine. The goal is for you to have an in-depth discussion of issues raised by the book. These conversations are important, because they can help to shape your responses to the discussions that follow and to your planning for the final group recommendation paper.
ii. Second, for each group meeting I will pose a question/issue that I would like for the group to consider. They are listed below, by meeting. The group should prepare a response to the question, in approximately one (typed, double-spaced) page. There is no right or wrong answer, but whatever answer the group prepares should be thoroughly explained and justified, reflecting a strong group discussion to frame the answer.
First Meeting: Having now read the first third of the book, what do you think are the three most interesting stories, problems, issues, etc. that have been presented thus far? Explain your answer and why the stories, problems, issues, etc., that you selected are important.
Second Meeting: Identify a situation in the book that you think should have been handled differently. Summarize the situation, explain why you think it should have been handled differently, and explain and justify what you would have done instead.
Third Meeting: Identify what you think is the best policy, program, practice, etc., illustrated in this book, and why you think it is the best. Identify what you think is the worst policy, program, practice, etc., illustrated in this book, and why you think it is the worst.
d. The group must submit a copy of items a-c, above, to me during the beginning of the next class period following your meeting (e.g. if your meeting was held on Thursday, your material will be due at the beginning of Tuesday's class). More specifically, you should submit to me a hard copy containing all group members’ journals, all discussion questions, and the group’s response to the assigned question. The authorship of each piece should be clearly labeled. I will not accept materials delivered piecemeal. All material should be stapled and placed into an envelope/folder (you can re-use the envelope/folder for each assignment, once returned). You may wish, at the beginning of the semester, to designate who will be responsible for this task at each meeting. See Coversheet Checklist link.
e. Each individual member of the group must submit a group meeting evaluation form on or before the due date of your group material (see 2-d above). In any case, the evaluations must be submitted PRIOR to the beginning of class. Rather than waiting until the end of the semester to provide feedback about the group experience, we will do so after each of the three meetings. The form is available at: group evaluation link. This must be e-mailed to my graduate assistant. Do NOT simply place your evaluation into the packet of material above. I want you to feel free to fairly evaluate your group members without fear other members will review your comments. I will ask you to be realistic in your assessment of everyone’s contributions, including you own. If I feel that you drastically over-rated or under-rated an individual, I may use my discretion to adjust the evaluation. Failure to submit a completed evaluation form will result in a deduction of 5 points. As the group evaluation indicates, specify what point (not percentage) deduction, if any, you are providing a member out of 15 points (not 25 points). Additionally, when you submit your group evaluation form electronically, please place your name on the file document (e.g., JohnSmithGroupEvaluation1.doc). This will allow us to maintain the file document without renaming.
f. After you have turned your materials in, I (or my graduate assistant) will issue grades. More specifically, here is how you will be graded:
i. Your journal entry and discussion question will be worth up to 10 points and will be graded individually. If you do not submit materials, you will not receive credit. Late work will NOT be accepted. No excuses.
ii. Your group question response will be worth up to 15 points and will be graded as a group. If you are absent from the group meeting, you will not receive credit. All group members who were present will receive the same grade, unless the group evaluations recommend a deduction for a group member.
3. After you have completed the book, you should hold any additional meetings that are needed to accomplish the following. Think back on the book, as a whole. If you had to identify one specific, substantive recommendation of something that would improve the criminal investigative process – based on your reading of the book – what would it be? You should prepare and submit a final group paper that contains the following, no later than the beginning of class on Thursday, April 16th:
a. Your recommendation stated in one sentence.
b. An explanation of your recommendation – what it means, how it would be implemented, why it is a good idea, how it is related to the book, how it relates to class material, etc.
c. A justification showing support for your recommendation by references to at least three scholarly journal articles (if you have a question about what constitutes a scholarly journal, please let me know). One reliable source for peer-reviewed/scholarly articles is "Google Scholar."
d. A properly formatted reference page (and in-text citations) for the material from the scholarly journals and your book.
e. All written work should follow the latest APA format! I strongly suggest that you use the link below from the Radford University Library to guide you through the latest APA writing standards: http://libguides.radford.edu/apastyle
f. You should provide two full copies of your final paper (one will be returned with a grade; the other will be kept on file). Please make sure that each paper is stapled (no paper clips or similar devices).
g. Provide highlighted copies of your sources (only those that you actually used in your paper) and attach those to the final paper. You do not need to make two copies of your sources! Here is how to do a highlighted copy:
i. If you use the actual source in your paper, print a copy of the document. You do not need to print the entire document, but only the page(s) that contain the cited material. For example, in a 20 page journal article, if you only wish to cite some material found on page 6, you should only print (or photocopy) page 6.
ii. Highlight (with a marker, pen, etc.) the line(s) that were paraphrased or quoted; stay away from direct quotes, if possible (e.g., on page 6, if you only used material from lines 1-3 in the second paragraph, highlight those lines).
iii. Include the highlighted sources with your paper, as noted above.
h. Please consider your recommendations carefully; you’ll want to spend a substantial amount of time discussing and developing it. I will place some limitation on your recommendations: While your recommendations can (and perhaps should) be as creative as you’d like, they may not go against scientific evidence about what is effective, nor may they violate any laws (or the 4th Amendment).
4. On Thursday, May 7th [exam week class session] (unless otherwise revised in writing and via class announcement), I will call upon each group to make a 5-7 minute oral presentation about your book. It should include a brief overview of what you found most interesting in the book, what lessons you think the book holds for criminal investigations, how the book related (or did not relate) to course material, your group recommendation (see above), and whether you enjoyed the book and would recommend this book for future classes (your honest assessment will not reflect negatively upon your grade.). You should plan your presentation carefully to fit the time limits, and to highlight what are really the most important points that you want to make. Don’t feel that you need to cover everything – just the most important aspects. Be creative in structuring your presentation. Both the final recommendation paper and the oral presentation will be worth up to 25 points, combined.
5. No later than than Thursday, May 7th (or whenever the group oral presentation occurs), you must complete an evaluation of your group members group evaluation link in terms of their performance on the group paper and group presentation portions of the assignment. All group members will receive the same grade on the paper and presentation, unless the evaluations recommend deductions based on the performance criteria. I will ask you to be realistic in your assessment of everyone’s contributions. If I feel that you drastically over-rated or under-rated an individual, I may use my discretion to adjust the evaluation. Failure to submit a completed evaluation will result in a deduction of 5 points. This evaluation will be turned into me in hard copy the day of the group oral presentation. In other words, please do NOT submit this evaluation electronically as you did the previous evaluations. You can manually adjust a group member's evaluation immediately following the oral presentation, if necessary. Please keep in mind that the most you may deduct from any group member, including yourself, is 25 points (with a written justification for any deductions).
This is a semester-long group project, and you should plan to dedicate sufficient time to thoroughly analyze your book using the framework described in this handout. I hope that you find the reading to be interesting and the discussions engaging; use this as an opportunity to explore the world of investigations beyond a traditional textbook!
Book Titles: Do NOT panic. You will only be reading one of these books! Do NOT purchase any book until after book assignments have been made.
Title: Perfectly Executed
Author: Peter Van Sant & Jenna Jackson
Year of publication: 2007
Publisher: Pocket Star Books
Homicide Special: A Year With The LAPD's Elite Detective Unit
Author: Miles Corwin
Year of publication: 2004
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Title: Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets
Author: David Simon
Year of publication: 2006
Publisher: Holt Paperbacks
Title: Devil's Knot: The True Story
of the West Memphis Three
Author: Mara Leveritt
Year of Publication: 2003
Title: The Innocent Man
Author: John Grisham
Year of Publication: 2006
Publisher: Random House
Title: Till Death Us Do Part
Author: Vincent Bugliosi
Year of Publication: 2004
Publisher: W. W. Norton
Title: The Prom Night Murders
Author: Carlton Smith
Year of Publication: 2009
Publisher: St. Martin's True Crime
The student is expected to attend each class. If an individual is borderline between grades, class participation will be considered in making the final grade decision. Additionally, students are expected to attend class "on time." Tardiness will NOT be tolerated (the student may be denied admission into the class if tardy and will be counted absent).
*Bonus: 10 points (not 10%) will be added to the final scores from tests/labs for perfect attendance (An "excused" absence will result in the forfeit of the bonus points, but will not be counted against the student. An "excused" absence must be cleared by the professor. The student must e-mail the professor prior to, or the day of, the absence to receive an "excused absence." This notification does not automatically grant the approval. Any student who misses more than two (2) class will be deducted 30 points for each "unexcused" class missed (Two tardies = one absence). Any student missing 6 classes or more, whether excused or not, will receive an "F" in the course. Any student not paying attention such as, falling asleep in class (if that is even possible in this course), working on another assignment, failing to pay attention during news briefings, videos, etc., playing with their cell phone, being ill-prepared for classroom discussion, leaving class early without prior permission of the instructor, etc., may be counted absent for that day.
Desire to Learn
You will have limited access to Desire to Learn (D2L) for this course. You will be able to check the following: quiz grades, book club grades, practicum grades, and attendance.
Other important information: If you bring a cell phone to class, please turn off the ringer (you may wish to put the phone on vibrate). If you receive a call during class, do NOT respond to the message unless it is an emergency that the entire class should be made aware of (example - a campus emergency). Cell phones must remain silent and secured during quizzes (e.g., kept in your pocket). Laptops and other computer/recording devices are prohibited during class use (unless it is being used during a group presentation). This will minimize unnecessary distractions that often accompany the use of these electronic devices. You will need to take notes the old fashion way - via handwriting. Sorry!
The following is a tentative outline of the course. This may be subject to change.
Elements of a Crime
Methods of Investigation
Interview and Interrogation
Confessions and Admissions
Crime Scene Search
Photographing the Scene
Crime Scene Sketch
Practicum. (we may or may not be able to conduct each practicum exercise during the semester). Tentative exercises include:
Radford University is committed to the highest standards of academic honesty. Acts of academic dishonesty include plagiarism, cheating, bribery, academic fraud, sabotage of research materials, the sale of academic papers, the purchase of academic papers, and the falsification of records. An individual who engages in these or related activities or who knowingly aids another who engages them, is acting in an academically dishonest manner and will be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with the bylaws and procedures of Radford University (See Student Handbook).
Each member of the academic community is expected to give full, fair, and formal credit to any and all sources that have contributed to the formulation of ideas, methods, interpretations, and findings. The absence of such formal credit is an affirmation that the work is fully the writer’s. The term "sources" includes, but is not limited to, published or unpublished materials, lectures, lecture notes, computer programs, mathematical and other symbolic formulations, course papers, examinations, theses, dissertations, and comments offered in class or informal discussions. The representation that such work of another is the writer’s represents plagiarism.
Care must be taken to document the source of any ideas or arguments. If the actual word of a source is used, it must appear within quotation marks. In cases that are unclear, the writer must take due care to avoid plagiarism.
The source should be cited whenever:
Since the intent to deceive is not a necessary element (strict liability), careful note taking and record keeping is essential in order to avoid plagiarism. In other words, it is like being a little bit pregnant (you either are or you are not). One cannot have "accidental/unintentional" plagiarism!
Students should consult members of the faculty for clarification of the definition and substance of this policy on plagiarism as it applies to their particular discipline.
(Source: City University of New York – Proposal on Plagiarism).
accommodations are required to provide documentation from an appropriate health
care provider or professional. The documentation must outline the functional
limitations that substantially limit a major life activity. Providers are also
asked to provide recommendations for reasonable accommodations based upon the
disability. However, Radford University's disability services professionals
ultimately decide on what accommodations are appropriate and reasonable.
Having a diagnosis is not the same as having a disability!
If you are seeking classroom accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, you are required to register with the Disability Resource Office (DRO). The DRO is located in Tyler Hall, Room 64; telephone number 831-6350; email address firstname.lastname@example.org. To receive academic accommodations for this class, please obtain the proper DRO forms and meet with me no later than the second week of class during the regular semester session (or the second day of the class during the summer session).
Learning Resource Center
The Learning Assistance and Resource Center (LARC), located in 126 Walker Hall, is open to all students Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Certified, trained tutors provide help with basic study skills, writing, and content-specific material. An appointment is necessary and can be made by calling 831-7704, emailing email@example.com, or IMing “rularcappt”.
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