Cal U Institute Offers Experience to Law Enforcement

By Paglia, Ron | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 9, 2008 | Go to article overview

Cal U Institute Offers Experience to Law Enforcement


Paglia, Ron, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


When the team of criminologists and scientists at California University of Pennsylvania's Institute of Criminological & Forensic Sciences address issues of fighting crime, they know well of what they speak.

"Our investigative consultants have experience in the field as well as broad education in their specialties," Dr. John R. Cencich, director of the Institute of Criminological & Forensic Sciences, said.

"That unique combination of real-world experience and doctorates in the relevant fields is, we feel, a major plus in helping you."

Cencich emphasized those points at a reception for regional law enforcement professionals and prosecutors at the Kara Alumni House on Cal U's campus. Participants included federal, state, county and municipal officials.

Through the Institute, a team of criminologists and specialists in forensic behavioral and legal sciences can examine cold case files; assist in identifying human remains and determining a decedent's cause and manner of death; evaluate crime scenes and equivocal deaths from a psychological perspective, and provide criminal intelligence and link analysis in relation to complex cases, Cencich said.

The Institute also can examine gambling devices and racketeering records.

"This Institute is unique to the Commonwealth, and we're confident that we can provide highly specialized investigative assistance through training and consultation services," said Cencich, who teaches courses in law, international criminal justice and organized crime at Cal U.

The Institute, he explained, is based on the California University campus and also includes a training center at the university's Southpointe Center near Canonsburg. The Forensic Gambling Lab and mock interrogation rooms are also located at Southpointe.

Washington County District Attorney Steven M. Toprani, a Cal U graduate, lauded the Institute and his office's alliance with the university.

"This is a very unique partnership bringing together the resources of county government and education for a common cause -- fighting crime," Toprani said. "We have been working together for several months and it has been a very beneficial experience for us."

Toprani, who is completing his first year as Washington County's district attorney, said the partnership includes his office working with Cal U students "to give them practical experience" in law enforcement and the criminal justice system.

"I enjoyed the same experiences when I was a student here; that is, excellent classroom instruction as well as gaining firsthand knowledge in other settings," he said.

In addition to Cencich, Institute of Criminological and Forensic Sciences team members, all Cal U professors, who spoke at the program and their topics were:

Dr. Emily M. Sweitzer, Behavioral Analysis of Violent Crime including criminal profiling and psychological autopsies. She is an associate professor of justice and behavioral crime who is currently serving as interim associate provost and associate vice president for academic affairs at Cal U. …

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