By Matt de Simone
Criminal Justice students at the Botetourt Technology Education Center (BTEC) learned about the operation of different police equipment last Wednesday in Fincastle.
Lisa Shaffer, the Criminal Justice teacher at BTEC, offers this unit for her first-year students to get up close to some of the equipment used by local law enforcement. The program is an elective for students interested in learning more about the criminal justice system.
Deputy Scofield, the recourse officer at Central Academy Middle School, brought over equipment to show the students last Wednesday.
“I do this every semester for my first-year students who meet in the afternoon,” Shaffer explained. “I have (Deputy Scofield) come in and show us the tools on his belt and talk about his background, his experiences with the Botetourt County Sheriff’s Office, and his experience as a resource officer. The only thing the students are allowed to touch is the spike strip.”
The students saw the lights, sirens, and spike strip in action. Some of the students took a closer look inside a police vehicle as an operator and a passenger.
“My classes are semester-long, and I have (Dep. Scofield) come by every semester,” Shaffer continued. “Part of the reason for that is because we don’t have a school resource officer in the building because he’s needed more at the middle school, but it gives the students a chance to meet him.”
Shaffer brings in guest speakers every week to her class to give students an idea of the different jobs that are out there pertaining to criminal justice. Some guest speakers range from FBI agents, U.S. Marshals, judges, probation officers on the state and federal level, defense attorneys, and more. She wants her students to know all aspects of criminal justice that don’t strictly involve law enforcement.
“There are a whole lot of different avenues a student can take if they study criminal justice,” Shaffer added. “A lot of them aren’t available until the student’s 21 years old. If they can go to school while working in a jail, which one can do at 18, or work as a dispatcher, those are avenues too.”
Currently, three of Shaffer’s second-year students are shadowing Botetourt County Sheriff’s Office dispatchers for two hours every week.
Criminal Justice 1 and 2 are both semester-long courses duel-enrolled for college credit through Dabney Lancaster Community College, which is free for her students.
Last week, Shaffer started a finger-printing unit where she teaches the students how to identify the different types of prints. Next, Shaffer will show students how to roll images on cards with ink and lift prints from various surfaces.
Shaffer’s Criminal Justice classes focus on policing history, the court system’s history, case law, crime scene investigation, and crime study.
Deputy Scofield will soon return to Shaffer’s class to help teach a hand-cuffing unit for her students. Shaffer added that the students are always excited to learn more about the tools used by local law enforcement.
To learn more about BTEC’s Criminal Justice classes and other programs, please visit https://btec.bcps.k12.va.us/programs.