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Advice For Aspiring Gang Investigators: Interview with Chuck Schoville, President of the AZGIA

We recently interviewed Chuck Schoville, President of the Arizona Gang Investigators Association and 26 year veteran police officer of the City of Tempe where he supervised the Tempe Police Department Gang Unit for about 15 years. He described typical requirements for becoming a gang investigator and advice for being successful in this field.

chuck schoville1. What is typically required for police officers who want to become a gang investigator?

Most Police Departments require officers to have at least three years experience as a patrol officer before seeking to be assigned to a specialized unit, including a gang unit which specializes in gang investigations. The early years of a police officer’s career is a very important time that police officers use to develop the necessary skills to succeed over a lengthy career.

2. What types of characteristics or skills do you think gang investigators should possess in order to be successful in this line of work?

Gang investigators need to be able to use sound reasoning and analytical skills to investigate gang related crimes. Investigating a gang crime has additional hurdles that a non gang related crime may not have, to include witnesses and victims that are reluctant to cooperate due to fear of the gangs. (more…)

Insights Into a Gang Investigator Career: Interview with Tim Hock, President of the OGIA

We recently interviewed Tim Hock, President of the Oklahoma Gang Investigators Association, about what it is like to work in a gang investigation unit, the challenges of reducing gang activity, and the skills needed to be a successful gang investigator.

How did you get started in gang investigation?

I got my start in early 1994 when the Oklahoma City Police Department decided they were tired of being reactive to the gang problem and became proactive by creating an aggressive gang unit to seek out these individuals and arrest them or at least ID them for future needs, thusly, creating a gang database that is still used today.

Can you describe your career path to your current position?

My career path was nothing special. I went to college on a football scholarship and became interested in law enforcement when I was home for the summers working at Sears catching shoplifters. I was hired I worked as a patrolman on graveyard shift for approximately 4.5 years and then went to a yearlong rotation in our narcotics unit buying drugs and executing search warrants. (more…)

Advice on How to Become a Successful Paralegal in Connecticut with Lynda Cmara

We had the great opportunity to interview Lynda Cmara, a paralegal at the law firm Johnson, Dowe, Brown & Barbarotta in Windsor, Connecticut and President of the New Haven County Association of Paralegals. Lynda shared career advice for new paralegals and the most important thing that she learned in college.

connecticut paralegal interviewWhy did you decide to become a paralegal?

I was working in real estate department of a major New England bank when I started looking into becoming a paralegal. It was during a time when banks were either failing or merging and I wanted a career path that would provide more stable employment opportunities. I was also considering relocation to Oregon and I thought being a paralegal would be a great choice. The skills possessed by a paralegal could be easily transferred no matter what part of the country I worked in.

Are there any specific education requirements for becoming a paralegal in the State of Connecticut?

Although Connecticut has no specific educational requirements at this time, most employers look for the following criteria: (more…)

Jason R. Collins Discusses the Role of the FBI Intelligence Analysts Association and Provides Intelligence Analyst Career Insights

Jason R. Collins is the National Spokesperson for the FBI Intelligence Analysts Association (FBI IAA) a private, non-profit professional association and is not part of the Federal Bureau of Investigation or acting on the FBI’s behalf.

The association seeks to represent and advance the professional interests of FBI Intelligence Analysts within the FBI and externally to appropriate stakeholders in the executive branch and the Congress.

Collins is a 9 year employee with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is currently the Senior FBI Supervisory Intelligence Analyst detailed to the National Counterterrorism Center and has served in a number of analytic positions, including Presidential Daily Briefer to both the Director of the FBI and Director of the National Counterterrorism Center.

Can you let readers know the history and role of the FBI analyst?

The FBI has had analysts for a good part of its existence in many forms. These forms have constantly evolved to meet the changing demands of the FBI and the intelligence community. From the beginning of their existence, analysts have worked among and with FBI Special Agents to prevent crimes of all sorts including working against foreign intelligence activity and terrorism. (more…)

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Advice on Becoming a Paralegal in Mississippi: Interview with Rachel Nesbit

We recently had the great privilege of discussing the paralegal profession with Rachel Nesbit, a paralegal at Heilman Law Group in Jackson, Mississippi and Vice President of the Mississippi Paralegal Association. In the following interview, Rachel shares valuable insights on what it is like to be a paralegal at a law firm and great career advice for new paralegals.

Mississippi Paralegal Interview1. Can you summarize for our audience what the main requirements are for becoming a paralegal in the state of Mississippi?

The requirements for becoming a paralegal in Mississippi can vary greatly depending on the type of work you will be doing. Larger firms and government positions may require formal educational training, while smaller firms may not be as stringent and would consider in-house training. The most common ways to become a paralegal are:

– BS Degree in Paralegal Studies from a 4-year college or university;
– AAS Degree in Paralegal Technology from a 2-year community college;
– Paralegal Certificate from a 4-year college or university for those who have a BS or BA Degree in another subject. The Certificate program is typically 30-hours of Paralegal classes; or
– In-house training. (more…)

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Interview with Forensic Psychiatrist Dr. Michael Welner, M.D.: Part Three

Renowned Forensic Psychiatrist Dr. Michael Welner Shares Insights on the Elizabeth Smart Kidnapping Case and What It Takes to Succeed in Psychiatry, Forensic Psychiatry, Psychopharmacology, and Disaster Medicine

Michael Welner, M.D. is a renowned forensic psychiatrist and the founder and chairman of The Forensic Panel. Criminal Justice Degree Schools provides more background on Dr. Welner’s distinguished career in the first installment of our interview.

What was your role in the case against Brian David Mitchell (the fundamentalist accused of kidnapping Elizabeth Smart from her Utah home in 2002)?

Many people do not realize how close Brian David Mitchell came to getting away with kidnapping Elizabeth Smart. Federal prosecutors came to me in 2008 after Mitchell had been repeatedly found incompetent, ready to dismiss charges and release Mitchell to a hospital. As I had been asked in the Andrea Yates case and in others, I was asked to take a definitive look at Mitchell and to advise whether he was incompetent to stand trial. (more…)

Interview with Forensic Psychiatrist Dr. Michael Welner, M.D.: Part Two

Renowned Forensic Psychiatrist Dr. Michael Welner Shares Insights on the Role of Media in Mass Shootings, the Andrea Yates Case & How His Career Has Evolved

Michael Welner, M.D. is an experienced and well-known forensic psychiatrist. He is the founder and chairman of The Forensic Panel and a professor at two different universities. Criminal Justice Degree Schools provides more background on Dr. Welner’s distinguished career in the first installment of our interview.

What role does the media play in the mass shooting phenomenon?

The media plays a critical role. Mass shooting is a copycat crime. Those alienated losers who blame everyone else for their failures and low achievement consume television and pop culture – again, because their lives are empty. Sadly, the news media responds to mass killing by hyperfocusing on the killer and his self-serving grievances. Most people are puzzled, horrified, and saddened when they watch of a person’s pain, magnified. The press amplifies this killer’s inner experience to suggest to us that he was the most rejected, the most hurt and provoked person in the whole wide world. He wasn’t. But he succeeded in drawing in the press to take the bait because of the “achievement” of his body count. (more…)

Interview with Forensic Psychiatrist Michael Welner, M.D.: Part One

Dr. Welner Shares In-Depth Reflections on the Richard Baumhammers Case and How to Develop a Career in Forensic Psychiatry

Michael Welner, M.D., a renowned forensic psychiatrist, is often asked to provide expert analysis of complex and cutting edge cases such as that of Elizabeth Smart’s kidnapper and Guantanamo detainee Omar Khadr. He is the founder and Chairman of The Forensic Panel, which introduced peer-reviewed oversight in a national forensic science practice. Constantly innovating in the field, he strives to create and upgrade protocols such as his efforts with the Depravity Standard to establish an evidence-based measure for the worst of crimes. He is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at NYU’s School of Medicine, an Adjunct Professor of Law at Duquesne University School of Law, and a consultant to ABC News and frequent Good Morning America contributor.

You analyzed the insanity defense claims of Richard Baumhammers, an unemployed lawyer who killed six people of different ethnicities during a shooting spree in Pittsburgh in 2000. At his trial, you diagnosed him with delusional disorder, but distinguished it from the choices he made. How does that fit the paradigm of a mass shooter?

Richard Baumhammers had delusional disorder. He was a low functioning son of two dentists who had graduated law school but never practiced to any meaningful degree as a professional. Like mass shooters before him and since, Baumhammers had high expectations of himself, but could never launch and was burdened by reminders of his disappointing prospects. At some point he fashioned an anti-immigration agenda and began positioning himself for a political career. But he was a social incompetent who could draw no one to his political party, and lived off his parents. He lived with his parents and would pay escorts to come and merely sit with him. He vacationed in Asia, where sexual gratification is only a greenback away. The anticlimactic trigger preceding his decision to embark on the shooting was a prospective date who cancelled on him.

Baumhammers killed his longtime Jewish neighbor, scrawled swastikas on a nearby synagogue, then drove to a Chinese restaurant and shot and killed two, then drove to an Indian grocery where he shot and killed one and paralyzed a second man who later died. He then drove to a karate studio and killed a black man there. In Pittsburgh, where I grew up, you have to go out of your way to target non-white multi-ethnicities. The question became, how could this son of parents who had patients from a variety of cultures carry out a crime with the earmarks of hatred unless his illness was driving it?

My journey led me to closely investigate the Latvian background of Baumhammers’ older parents, who characterized themselves to the press as World War II refugees. Ultimately, I learned that his family had in fact exceptionally thrived during the Nazi occupation that witnessed the extermination of over 90% of Latvia’s Jews. Baumhammers actually descended from the youngest Supreme Court judge ever in Latvia – a Nazi appointee. The picture came into clearer focus with history that Baumhamers had burned a cross on a black neighbor’s lawn when he was a teenager, and long before anyone contemplated that he had mental illness.

When I studied his internet traffic prior to the shootings, I found that he had been visiting white supremacist websites. He was attempting to form online romances with like-minded women such as “Aryan Princess.” Baumhammers’ hatred and xenophobia ultimately came into clearer understanding as a passion of his that had been nurtured over many years and likely over generations. Delusional disorder was a real part of his life, but so was his xenophobic ideology.

What motivates people like Richard Baumhammers to shoot and kill people indiscriminately?

Mass shooting is carried out by a man who wants to create a spectacle and draw attention to himself. The shooter is a person of high personal expectations who recognizes that his life is going nowhere and never will. Schizophrenia is common in mass shooters, as is great difficulty coping with the diagnosis and the personal shame of having a condition that affects one’s function, sociability, and potential. However, most mass shooters do not have schizophrenia; it is the expectations of how the community will respond that drives the spectacle crime.

Mass shooters are invariably sexual incompetents and social losers. The despair they feel over the sense of being a sexual outcast is overpowering. When their escape from their own disconnect includes guns or other violent imagery or entertainment, mass shooters are those who identify destruction with a sense of power and manhood. The news and entertainment media’s role in making mass shooters larger than life reinforces the perverse stature attributed to destructiveness.

Paranoia is also a key element in mass shooting. A person who recognizes he does not fit in becomes progressively alienated from more and more of his community. The risk for violent cataclysm grows the more the person becomes invested in that alienation. For mass shooters, alienation progresses to contempt. Contempt is a necessary ingredient to power righteous indignation – the feeling that victims deserve to die. This is why mass shooting is such an exceptional event relative to the number of people who may fantasize about it. You have to hate everyone to kill anyone.

The more distinctive component to Richard Baumhammers’ mass shooting was his ideology. As it happens, Buford Furrow and Naveed Haq being examples, ideological mass shooters are typically unaffiliated and have only tenuous history within hate organizations such as the white supremacist or anti-secular Muslim organizations. They are social wannabees within these hate groups just as they are social failures otherwise. The spectacle crime pushes them to the spotlight of respect among others who may do no more than promote hate literature or raise funding, yet are quietly delighted when they learn of the bloodbath one man can create.

Joseph Paul Franklin, whom I also interviewed, took it upon himself to kill as many as he could in mixed-race relationships. He murdered well over 20 and could have killed scores more if devious plots to blow up a synagogue and to poison thousands of Chicagoans were successful. He prided himself in the spectacle he created that even leaders of Aryan Nation could not.

Is there a common educational path you suggest and if so, why?

You have to get educated in what fascinates you and what will keep you up at night reading and researching. My best advice to training students is to train up in your passion; inhale it, inhabit it, and sit in the front row of life. If you then just concentrate on performing your techniques as well as possible, you will figure out how to develop a nice career for yourself within forensics.

I know medicine from my own experience and recommend it to all. Medical school is four years but that time goes quickly and you grow up in the best of ways. The flexibility for career development and contributions to society that a physician has are enormous.

Read Part 2 of Dr. Welner’s Interview
Read Part 3 of Dr. Welner’s Interview

California Paralegal Requirements And Career Advice: An Interview with Stacey G. Hunt

We recently interviewed Stacey G. Hunt, the president of the Central Coast Paralegal Association in California to learn about how to become a paralegal in California and advice on having a successful career in the paralegal field.

California Paralegal InterviewCan you summarize the requirements for becoming a paralegal in California?

California law provides three paths to become a paralegal: (1) a certificate of completion from an ABA-approved paralegal program; (2) a certificate of completion of a paralegal program or degree from an accredited postsecondary institution that requires the successful completion of at least 24 semester units in law-related courses; or (3) a baccalaureate degree or an advanced degree on any subject plus a minimum of one year of law related experience under the supervision on a California lawyer who has been practicing at least three years. California paralegals must complete four hours of general law CLE and four hours of ethics CLE every two years. (more…)

Criminal Justice Professor Dr. Scott Thornsley Shares His Career Path and Views on the State of our Correction Systems

An experienced state government executive and now Professor and Criminal Justice Department Chair discusses his two distinct careers, his approach as a teacher and the outlook of a stressed prison system. We talked with Dr. Scott Thornsley, Associate Professor & Chair of the Criminal Justice Administration at Mansfield University in Pennsylvania.

How did you get into the criminal justice field and how has your career evolved from Corrections to Professor?

I spent 19 years in Pennsylvania Department of Corrections before entering the academic community. I was the Director of the Office of Legislative Affairs. Essentially, I was a lobbyist appointed by the Pennsylvania Governor’s Office and acted as a liaison with the state prison system and Pennsylvania General Assembly. I was a senior level executive, and represented the Governor’s Office and state Department of Corrections prison on legislative issues. I never actually worked in any prisons directly. I did the analysis on the bills, although the budget office and legal staffs were tapped as needed. I would build relationships and build momentum around this legislation. All my undertakings were policy related issues. For example, I orchestrated the change in the manner of execution from electrocution to lethal injection. For a decade, I worked on efforts to release prisoners early for undertaking efforts in education, vocation and treatment programs. I was also unsuccessful in getting private sector prison industries to be able to operate within our state prisons. I believe Oregon and other states did this with Federal support. The goal was to provide the inmates with a real life work experience for their resumes — it is a stabilizing influence as inmates with those jobs get paid a bit better and they don’t want to lose that position.

Stepping back, I started in undergrad in political science and criminal justice.  I took an internship at a prison in Pennsylvania, and was exposed to policy.  I really enjoyed prison policy and this aspect of criminal justice.  When I graduated in ‘73 from Mansfield State College, I immediately went to Sam Houston University and studied Corrections for graduate work.  I then went to work in Planning and Research for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, and then eventually moved to the lobbyist position. (more…)

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