New forensics major expected to come

Jaclyn Gonzales and Jaclyn Gonzales

The Administration of Justice Department is in the process of establishing a new forensics major, although the lack of lab space and development of the curriculum means the new major may still be semesters away.

“With programs like CSI, there is just a natural curiosity on the part of many of our students to learn more about forensic science,” said former Los Angeles Park Ranger and current City College Professor Anne Redding.

It was by student demand that the idea to have a forensics department was born. City College student Jonathan Theriot describes forensics as “the scientific study used in law to gather evidence for a specific crime that has occurred.” Offering a lab-based course would be the best way to gain hands-on experience in the world of forensics, Theriot believes.

The new forensics major will be the final piece to what Redding fondly calls the department’s “School of Justice Studies,” stating the purpose is to generate an environment for all students interested in learning about our justice system despite their future professional goals.

Over the last several years, Redding and department chair Dr. Tom Mahoney have worked together toward giving the Administration of Justice Department more “academic legitimacy and stress the interdisciplinary science emphasis,” Redding said.

Redding declared it would be unethical to offer a degree that the department could not follow through with in, providing the needed courses and facilities.

Some of the courses the department is hoping to add to the major are what Redding called hybrid classes, which are related to forensics work but not traditionally set in lab environment. Some of the hybrid classes being developed includes forensic photography and crime scene processing.

According to Redding, the major would bring more students into the department primarily because no other college in the area offers a program like this one.

“The Administration of Justice program is not police training,” Redding said. “The purpose at our college is to help gain critical thinking skills and go beyond what one would learn at a police academy.”

The new major might draw more people into the Administration of Justice department by attracting students who had never thought about this major before, she said.

The department offers three emphases: criminology, law enforcement, and legal studies.

The Administration of Justice department currently offers “Introduction to Forensics,” which is taught once a week by the Santa Barbara Police Department’s Forensic Technician Michael Ullemeyer. Melissa Rhodes, an aspiring forensics major says: “Ullemeyer’s class was a great starting point in learning the subject, but it would be nice to see it develop into something bigger.” This class was first offered last semester and has seen promising growth.