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Criminal Justice Club travels to California

Friday, 25 May 2012

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University of Maine at Presque Isle Criminal Justice Club members recently traveled to Sacramento and San Francisco, California, in conjunction with a course designed to increase student awareness of historical perspectives of policing and corrections. The trip included student ride-alongs with members of the Sacramento Police Department, visits to Folsom Prison, Alcatraz Prison, Berkeley Police Department, the California Highway Patrol academy, and various tourist attractions in the greater San Francisco area.

The students who participated in the trip included: Christina Hall, Hanad Ashkir, Mark Bartlett, Tom Dionne, Josh Esty, Josh Conroy, Sierra Turmenne, Richard Landry, and Ben Lulofs.

While students noted different aspects of the trip as being their favorite, the general consensus was that the tour of Folsom Prison was unforgettable. Senior Christina Hall said about Folsom, "This was pretty amazing. I have never been to an active prison before and even though some of the inmates were making us girls feel a little uncomfortable, it was still a pretty fun experience to be put in a brown jumpsuit and given a tour of what the reality for the prisoners inside is actually like. I have to say this was one of the best parts of the trip!"

UMPI Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice Dr. Charles Johnson, the trip facilitator and escort, toured the California Highway Patrol academy with the students. This part of the trip was an especially rewarding homecoming for Dr. Johnson, a 1977 graduate of the academy. Josh Estey, another graduating senior, commented, "The CHP academy was really awesome because I like to see police museums and how the technologies came to be today. The coolest thing to see was sitting in on a classroom. Even though we were only there for a little while, it was cool to see how each of the students was classified and ranked. The EVOC (emergency vehicle operation course) demonstration was cool to see."

Student Hanad Ashkir also noted the sobering effect the memorial fountain had on him: "I thought this place was very special. Sitting around the water fountain of all the fallen heroes, I must say it was very touching and I respect what all these men in uniform do."

Alcatraz prison is a tourist destination for those headed to the San Francisco area. Perhaps that is the reason sophomore Richard Landry reflected on his experience this way: "I enjoyed Alcatraz but it didn't feel like a real prison. There were too many people around."

Ben Lulofs, a sophomore, enjoyed his visit to Alcatraz, based on his remark that, "It was great seeing one of the most famous prisons in the world that held Al Capone and other gangsters from the prohibition era."

A capstone to the trip was the visit to Berkeley Police Department, where August Vollmer developed the professional model of policing during the first part of the 20th century. Students of criminal justice read about Vollmer, but very few ever have the opportunity to visit the city he used as a backdrop as he developed a policing model that would be emulated nationwide. Sierra Turmenne reiterated the point: "Lomboroso's chart of how to detect a criminal was really cool. I've only seen those pictures in books – to see them in real life was very interesting."

The trip also included visits to see Lombard Street (the most crooked street in the world), night life in San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Painted Ladies (the colorful Victorian houses depicted during the opening scene of the television series Full House).