COOLIDGE -- Forensic Science and Crime Scene Investigation is one of nine new programs at Central Arizona Valley Institute of Technology this year. The course will be taught by retired police officer Jason Hall.
Hall’s background includes 20 years with the Phoenix Police Department and two years as a paraprofessional. Hall also has multiple degrees, including: an associate degree from Chandler Gilbert Community College; a BA in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Biology; and an MA in Coaching Athletic Administration.
While with the Phoenix Police Department, Hall spent time as a patrol officer, bicycle officer, a crime free multi-housing officer and an academy tactical trainer. Early in his career, Hall was the police advisor for the Explorer program, where he served as a mentor to youth interested in a law enforcement career.
Later, Hall spent 13 years as an instructor teaching a number of topics at the police academy, including new recruit training, in-service training, physical fitness, ballistic shield, firearms, rifle, high-risk vehicle stops, and driving. In addition to his professional career, Mr. Hall has also coached soccer for 20 years, from little league to junior high school.
Hall said he doesn’t view his new job at CAVIT as much of a transition. Additionally, when Hall first retired, he spent two years as a paraprofessional (a teaching assistant) at a high school in the special education department.
“I’m excited to get back to teaching,” Hall said. “To get back in front of the classroom is something I always thought I’d do once I retired from the police department. I love doing it.”
The new program Hall will be teaching at CAVIT is a result of dividing the previous law enforcement program into two separate classes: forensics/CSI and criminal justice. Hall said he planned to go deeper into the criminal justice aspect and teach students about specific careers as part of the learning process.
In the new forensics/CSI program, students will have the opportunity to obtain security guard certification, OSHA 10-hour general industry and CPR instruction. In addition, students will receive the educational foundation and experience necessary to pursue additional education and careers in criminal justice and law enforcement such as CIA Investigator, autopsy technician, crime scene technician, criminologist, detective, fingerprint technician, forensic technician, dispatcher, and more.
“The goal is to open students’ eyes to the different types of careers within forensic science,” Hall said “It’s not just the CSI you see on TV. There’s a lot more to it than that.”
In addition to the community partnerships the law enforcement programs enjoy with Coolidge and Casa Grande police departments and the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, students can look forward to guest speakers from the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office and an Arizona Supreme Court Justice.
Hall has also lined up partnerships with the Department of Public Safety Crime Labs in Tucson and Phoenix. The Coolidge community can look forward to seeing Hall’s students at schools and community activities such as “Meet McGruff” and child fingerprinting events.
The forensic/CSI program will work with the local police Explorer program and collaborate with other CAVIT programs.
For example, Hall plans to partner with CAVIT’s dental science program to get a look at odontology, the study of teeth, and how they can be used as a means of identification and evidence in a crime. Within CAVIT’s fire science program, students will learn how to approach an arson investigation, including how to process and read a scene.
Students enrolled in the forensics/CSI program can also look forward to hands-on experiences processing and reconstructing mock crime scenes. Hall said the work would get progressively more advanced. Students would eventually prep for the SkillsUSA Competition where they will compete against other technical schools in the state.
Among other subjects, students will also receive firearms training and arson investigation training. There will even be a section on serial killers and the clues and evidence that helped investigators put them behind bars.
Hall said ultimately he hoped to instill a positive outlook on the criminal justice system and law enforcement profession.
“CAVIT is on the rise,” Hall said. “We’ve doubled the programs we have. We are an innovative school and that’s encouraging.”
Mike Glover is superintendent of the Central Arizona Valley Institute of Technology in Coolidge.