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Chicago trip sets scene for criminal justice history, careers

December 19, 2018

KOKOMO, Ind. –  Kelly Fisher’s students have read about Depression-era gangster John Dillinger in their criminal justice classes.

An Indiana University Kokomo KEY trip allowed them to walk in his footsteps — right up to the Chicago alley where he died while trying to escape federal agents in 1934.

“I’m a hands-on learner, and actually being able to visualize it, and go there, helped me understand the importance of it,” said freshman Meghan Daub, from Wabash. “You got to see what it was like in the speakeasies, and where Dillinger was shot. We got to see authentic crime scenes we had talked about in class.”

Fisher, lecturer in criminal justice and homeland security, led 12 students on the trip, which included visiting the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (D.E.A.), as well as a guided tour of famous crime sites in Chicago.

The crime tour was a tourist experience, she said, but it was part of a learning opportunity.

“We stood in places where crime history happened,” she said. “The bus ride to and from Chicago also was a great opportunity to talk more in-depth about their career aspirations, and during the day, they had an inside experience of criminal justice, to see there are more jobs available to them that being police officers.”

Visiting the D.E.A., and having to go through security, showed them what it would be like to work in a government building, Daub said. She had to undergo an extra check because of the metal button on her jeans.

“We’ve talked about courthouse security in class, but I’ve never been through the process,” she said. “It was interesting to realize people in criminal justice do this every day.” 

Once inside, D.E.A. investigators spoke to them about what kinds of work they do, career options, and the future of their agency. Gavin Bitner, Kokomo, was interested in the diversion program, with opportunities to work as an investigator.

“It opened my eyes to different opportunities, and furthered my interest in criminal justice careers,” he said.

For Jasmine Keating, Kokomo, it gave her another idea for career in her field.

“I’m not really sure what I want to do, but this gave me a new idea to consider,” she said.

Del’Reann Horton, from Marion, noted it was her first time going to Chicago.

“It’s a different atmosphere,” she said. “It made me think about what it would be like to live there, and what opportunities are available to me there.”

The trip was part of the IU Kokomo Experience and You (KEY) program, which gives students a chance to connect with people and participate in real-world experiences. The goal is for every student to have at least one travel experience within his or her major.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

Last updated: 12/19/2018