New forensics course sparks program expansion

The course gives students hands on experiences with programs used by law enforcement, giving students access to authentic data from VPD and Homeland Security.

Due to the overwhelming interest in SFU’s latest course, CRIM 449: Major Crime and Forensic Analysis for Law Enforcement, the School of Criminology will be expanding its offerings even further this year.

Ryan Prox, a special constable with VPD and adjunct professor at SFU, has begun teaching CRIM 449 at Surrey campus this semester, home to a state-of-the-art virtual forensic analysis lab.

The course will give students hands-on experiences with programs used by law enforcement, as well as offering access to authentic data from VPD and Homeland Security records. Prox said that this will also give students who want to take career paths in law enforcement a practical advantage before graduating.

IBM and ESRi have gifted the software to SFU Police Studies Program to support the initiative. “They see it as a way the industry is going, and believe the training in technological solutions is critical before going into the actual field,” said Prox.

He continued, “There’s a lot of students taking my course because a lot of them want job ready skills and it is a good augmentation to their criminology program.”

Students will have the advantage of learning how criminological theories are applied in a real-world setting.

“Having the hands-on experience on this software is almost unheard of in the academic setting,” according to Prox.

He continued, saying the opportunity lies in more than just the law enforcement field; the skill set students will acquire from this course will be transferrable to other private sectors as well. These skills will apply to non-standard and non-policing industries, as a lot of private companies are now looking to expand internal capacity.

As such, the department is expanding its offerings in this area to keep up with an evolving field and increased student demand.

“We’ve got two tracks now in terms of crime and intelligence analysis, CRIM 449 and CRIM 909,” Prox explained.

“Having the hands-on experience on this software is almost unheard of in the academic setting.”

Ryan Prox, VPD special constable and SFU adjunct professor

CRIM 449 was originally introduced as CRIM 417: Special Topics in Criminology, but it has developed into a permanent standing course as CRIM 449 after the waitlist reached more than double the course capacity.

CRIM 909 is a non-credit course that is only open to law enforcement practitioners, and as such it is considered a professional development course under adult education in the Police Studies Program.

SFU will also offer a new CRIM 417 in the fall, titled Disclosure, Analysis and Evidence Management for Serious Crimes.

“The ultimate goal is to have a full certificate in crime and intelligence analysis under the Police Studies program,” said Prox.

In regards to expanding SFU’s influence regarding professional development programs, Prox said he plans to offer CRIM 909 in Ottawa this spring.

“The world of crime and intelligence is evolving at such a rapid pace,” Prox said. “I find that it is exciting time, because there’s a lot going on, and there are a lot of new innovation and new developments.

“It is a good place for students to be moving into, because they are not going to be bored.”