For three years, the criminal justice students at Fairmont State University have won the crime scene competition at the national conference.
What makes this feat even more impressive is that they were doing it with less-than-stellar equipment.
“We were using the $30 point-and-shoot,” Marshal Sherry, a second-year graduate student in criminal justice, said. “It was just the bare minimum.”
The criminal justice program at FSU got a surprise Thursday when the Fraternal Order of Police from Fairmont presented them with a gift.
“We decided that you guys needed a little bit better camera,” Sgt. Glen Staley said while addressing the class. “Since you guys have been doing so well in your competitions, we thought it was a good idea that you guys had a real camera.”
The piece of equipment Staley presented Thursday contained not only a top-of-the-line camera, but also all the “bells and whistles” that would be needed to go along with it.
“We came to present a camera from the FOP and a tripod to the Fairmont State criminal justice club to help them with their competitions when they go nationwide,” officer Dave Wolford explained.
Staley has a personal connection with the school, as his wife, Cynthia Staley, is the campus photographer at FSU, and that led the FOP to making this donation.
“It was initially brought to my attention by my wife, who is the campus photographer,” Staley said. “She said that they were going to these competitions with the barest of point-and-shoot cameras.
“The FOP is a nonprofit,” he continued. “Any money that we bring in, we put back into the community.”
While the FOP frequently gives back to the community, giving back to the criminal justice students is a mutually beneficial effort, as Staley and Wolford explained.
“These are kids that are in line to come into our profession,” Staley said. “So it makes sense for us to help them out.”
“It’s an investment in our future,” Wolford added. “If we can help young students that are in the college phase of their lives right now and make them better students and succeed, then they will be better in their career.”
Sherry and his classmates are looking forward to getting to use this new camera.
“I wasn’t expecting this high-dollar camera and tripod and all the equipment,” Sherry explained. “I’m very excited.
“Taking pictures at a crime scene and documenting evidence is very important. Having that technology will definitely give us a leg-up on the competition.”
As Sherry explained, this new high-dollar camera will be put to use for FSU once the students are allowed to compete again.
“They got tired of us winning, so they asked us to run the competition this year,” he said. “Once we do that, we will be ready to compete again next year.”
This story by Sean McNamara appeared in the Times West Virginian on Feb. 28, 2015, and is posted here with his permission. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @SMcNamaraTWV.