Donors Help CCJS Acquire State-of-the-Art Forensic Comparison Microscope

The top-ranked Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice (CCJS) recently acquired a piece of cutting-edge technology to enhance its innovative Crime Lab thanks in part to the generosity of donors. The new Forensic Comparison Microscope features two stages that allow users to view and compare two objects at the same time; for example, a bullet found in a body with a test bullet fired from a suspect’s weapon. 

The microscope was initially used in a fully operational federal crime laboratory in Miami and was purchased from I. Miller Precision Optical Instruments of Philadelphia after being completely reconditioned with new features needed to satisfy CCJS educational requirements. Thomas Mauriello, an adjunct lecturer and laboratory instructor who exclusively teaches one of the University’s most popular classes, CCJS 320: Introduction to Criminalistics, was instrumental in bringing the microscope to campus. (Mr. Mauriello and representatives from Precision Optical Instruments are pictured here testing the microscope in the Crime Lab in Marie Mount Hall.)

“Students will now be able to test their knowledge and understanding of course content by examining bullets, shells, tool marks, hairs, fibers and other associated evidence from the mock crime scenes in Marie Mount Hall and determine if they are a match,” Mr. Mauriello said. “They already are able to do similar examinations with fingerprints, shoe prints, and questioned document materials.”

Mr. Mauriello is known for making classroom and lab experiences memorable by combining real-world methods and activities with practical research and theory. For example, he stages mock crime scenes into his instruction, walking students through the process of observing, testing and interpreting evidence. This method is also the basis of his popular book The Dollhouse Murders.

The purchase of the microscope was made possible by support from the Department of Criminal Justice Fund, which advances the operations of CCJS, as well as the BSOS Dean’s Discretionary Fund.

“The contributions of alumni, students, staff and friends of the department to this fund help to enhance the educational experience of the next generation of law enforcement officers, members of the military, academics, and other professionals who work to promote order and justice,” said Assistant Dean for External Relations Deborah Rhebergen.

Mr. Mauriello said he is already incorporating the microscope into his curriculum both inside the classroom and beyond. As the founder of a forensic consultant company, ForensIQ, Inc., Mr. Mauriello often hires students as interns, and also works with CCJS alumni across a variety of fields, including law enforcement officers. 

“After students take my course, CCSJ 320, we are integrating them as interns working real ‘cold case’ investigations. We have three students working on the 1975 Kathy Beatty homicide case,” Mr. Mauriello said.  [Read about this case at http://www.kathybeatty.com.] “Now with this new microscope, I will be able to incorporate additional content into the crime lab experience.”

 

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