Crime scene tape

Rio Salado College has developed a new investigator hybrid course to local police officers that teaches them a new set of skills while offering them flexibility at the same time.

The investigator classes include lessons including but not limited to crime scene management, investigative report writing, interview and interrogation, search warrants and court orders.

The course is a blend of in-person and online classes. In person sessions take place from 4:30 to 9 p.m.

Only two in-person courses are left in order to accommodate officers who work in surrounding counties. They are to take place Oct. 15 and Dec. 10. Each class is taken at Communiversity at Queen Creek. These are closed to the general public.

Officers pay $84 per credit hour, plus a $15 registration fee per semester. Generally, officers pay up front but depending on the agency, officers may be reimbursed.

Angela Kwan, faculty chair at Rio Salado College, explained how the course helps Phoenix police agencies with training.

“Rio Salado College has a very unique partnership with many of the police agencies in the Valley, including the Arizona Post and the academy, the Arizona law enforcement Academy,” she said. “So if there is a need for them to develop training and offer it but they can’t put it on themselves because it may be cost intensive and man power intensive, that’s where we can come in and say well we can develop the class and offer it. Students can pay tuition and they would get the training. Then there is no cost to the city unless there is some tuition reimbursement.”

This class used to be taught solely in person, 17 weeks of training, one time a week the officers would come to the class. With the hybrid course, officers as far as Tucson are making the trip to be involved with in-person class. However, before this was even possible, police agencies help the training themselves.

“Many, many years ago the Phoenix Police Department used to have an 80-hour course within two weeks and it’s a similar course that we teach today,” Kwan said. “They would take a group of officers aspiring to be detectives, 30 to 40 officers put them in a classroom for two weeks. This would contain a dozen or so different instructors. It kind of got to be a little man power intensive, that’s when they partnered with Rio Salado College.”

The professor of the course is Paul Dalton with the Phoenix Police Department, who is highly qualified to teach it, according to Kwan.

“He’s been with the Phoenix department for over 20 years,” she said. “He’s been a homicide detective well over 15 years. He is also the president of the Arizona Homicide Investigators Association. So he is pretty well-rounded.”

As the course has already had its first in-person class and time to work online, the hybrid course has received some feedback from students. Kwan discussed what she has heard from the instructor regarding the difficulty level.

“The hybrid can be a little bit tougher for students,” Kwan said. “I’m not saying the in-person class is easier but with a lot of our online courses, all the flexibility meets the needs of many students. The students themselves have to be structured and disciplined on their own to make sure they finish their assignments on time.”

Two portions of the class include a mock crime scene case as well as a mock trial; these lessons make it difficult to develop the investigative course solely online. Kwan said Rio Salado College is figuring how to work around making these portions available online.

• Ryan Santistevan, a sophomore at the Arizona State University Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, is an intern for the East Valley Tribune and Ahwatukee Foothills News.

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