Collecting the evidence

Middle school students learn about criminal justice at VGCC
Apr. 04, 2014 @ 06:17 PM

Ahmaad Green and Trayvon Hargrove carefully examined the crime scene behind Vance-Granville Community College.

They photographed a shotgun cartridge and syringe lying in the grass, bagged the items and labeled the bags with the specific case number.

Green and Hargrove are not law enforcement. In fact, they are only in middle school.

But the two boys, along with about a dozen of their classmates, spent Friday at the community college’s main campus learning about careers in criminal justice.

The winners of the Vance County Sheriff’s Office anti-gang poster contest were given an opportunity to attend college for a day.

Criminal justice technology instructor Tony Clark staged the crime scene and showed the kids how to process it using the standard law enforcement procedures.

Green said he enjoyed investigating for evidence.

“We get to bring people justice,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about.”

Green’s classmate, Haley Lynch, said the day provided a realistic, hands-on learning experience.

“They set it all up for you and put out the evidence, and you can see what an actual crime scene is like,” she said.

Program director Steven Hargrove tried to show the kids how criminal justice could be relevant in their daily lives.

He explained the sex offender registry in many states, including North Carolina, came about as a result of the brutal rape and murder of 7-year-old Megan Nicole Kanka.

Kanka was lured into her neighbor’s home on July 29, 1994, by a sex offender who had been convicted in a 1981 attack on a 5-year-old and an attempted sexual assault on a 7-year-old.

The incident prompted a movement among Kanka’s relatives and friends in New Jersey who sought to establish a state or national database for convicted sex offenders.

Hargrove showed the students how to access and search this state’s sex offender database.

Mataesha Jefferys, an Eaton-Johnson Middle School student, said she hadn’t heard of the registry before Hargrove’s presentation.

“I didn’t know you could find everybody who is a sex offender,” she said. “It’s a little creepy to know, but I think I will check it out at home.”

 

Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.