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Justice Studies students sweep top spots at Maryland CSI competition

Winning UofGH team poses with their trophy

University of Guelph-Humber Justice Studies students swept the top four positions at a CSI competition at Mount St. Mary’s University in Maryland.

More than 80 students from schools around North America competed in the 13th annual Robert B. Fram CSI Challenge, which has students facing off in a timed investigation of a crime scene.

The team of 17 UofGH students led the way, with fourth-year Justice Studies student Genevieve Jung standing as part of the winning team for the second year in a row. This time, Jung teamed with Bianca Caputo and Daniella Raso. Their name? The Canadian Snow Inspectors, or “CSI.”

“I can positively say this team and our accomplishments have been the highlight of my university experience,” Jung said. “It’s an honour representing Canada, and an even greater honour being on the winning team for two years in a row.”

During the competition, the students were given about 50 minutes to assess a crime scene, determine what evidence needs to be collected, interview a nearby witness, record measurements, snap photographs and ultimately craft a report.

This year’s case was a triple homicide in a convenience store. Evidence included handgun cartridges, fingerprints, blood stains, footprints and cigarette butts. Each team had an investigator, an interviewer and a photographer/sketcher. The students were graded based on how professionally they handled evidence, submitted documentation, and derived conclusions about the case.

The event was attended by law enforcement officers and detectives from around the area, including members of the Frederick Police Department who provided feedback to the participating students.

“Our teams just did really well,” said instructor John Irwin, who coaches the students and accompanied them on the trip. “That’s a testament to the people who were doing the training, and that’s the students. The students trained each other.”

Where last year Jung was a rookie competitor, she entered this year’s challenge as a seasoned veteran able to comprehensively prepare her teammates for what to expect. She said she relished the leadership opportunity, while her younger teammates appreciated the guidance.

“Being one of the only third year students on the team, it was definitely intimidating, but everyone was extremely helpful and welcoming,” Caputo said. “I’m already so excited to start next year’s team.”

UofGH’s acclaimed run at the competition was only one portion of the trip.

Travelling in two vehicles, students also made it all the way to Philadelphia to tour the famous Eastern State Penitentiary, a now-shuttered prison built in 1829 that once housed the notorious likes of Al Capone and Willie Sutton.

They also managed a side trip to New York, where Irwin says indefatigable students spent the day exploring Manhattan and Brooklyn. After the competition and before returning to Canada, the students’ road trip even wound through Washington, D.C., where they were able to take in some of the U.S. capital’s many attractions.

“It’s beautiful,” Irwin said of the trip. “The students develop relationships when they’re down there. They connect with students from other universities. They’ll meet up on Facebook or travel and see each other. They develop networks. It’s really interesting.”

Raso agreed.

“I’m so happy to have participated in this competition,” she said. “It has not only expanded my knowledge academically, but has formed great friendships with all the students I worked with.”

Learn more about Justice Studies at the University of Guelph-Humber.