Great Basin College

Course Syllabus



CRJ 164:  Introduction to Criminal Investigation                                     3 Semester Credits

Section ER1, WV1, YV1, 1V1                                                                        Fall 2007


Meeting Time:           Monday/Wednesday, August 27—December 5, 2007, 9:30 to 10:45 am


Meeting Location:     HTC121


Instructor:                  Stephen A. Baker, Ph.D., 775-753-2348 or e-mail via Web Campus


Office Hours: M-W 1-2:00 pm and 4-5:00 pm; Th 11:00 am-noon, or by appointment


Catalog Description:  Fundamentals of investigation, crime scene search and recording, collection and preservation of physical evidence, scientific aids, sources of information, case preparation, interviews and interrogations, and follow-up.


Required Textbook:  Bennett, W. W. & Hess, K. M. (2004).  Criminal Investigation, 8th edition, WadsworthBelmont, CA, with WebCT pin, ISBN 0495093408.


Course Description:  CRJ164 is an introductory course that provides an overview of the criminal investigative process.  Students will learn about crime, attributes of a professional investigator, and investigative techniques as applied to different types of property and violent crimes.  Working professional guest speakers will discuss actual crimes that they have been involved in as investigators and graphically analyze the crimes and methods used to identify and arrest the criminals involved.  Students may be exposed to graphic photographs of victims as well as frank discussions of injuries suffered by victims.


Attendance Policy:  Students should attend all classes and be on time.  Prior notification of the instructor by calling, leaving a voicemail, and/or sending a message to email is expected for all absences.  Each student is entitled to three hours excused absence per the GBC catalog, as noted on page 49, or the instructor may drop a student.


Course Objectives:


  1. Communicate clearly and effectively in written and oral forms, i.e. discussion, reading, listening.
  2. Describe the basic investigative responsibilities of the investigator.
  3. Explain the processes used to investigate violent crimes including, death investigations, assaults, sex offenses, robbery and crimes against children.
  4. Describe the steps an investigator should use to prepare for presenting the case in court.
  5. Explain the characteristics of a professional investigator.
  6. Explain the processes used to investigate property crimes and how they may differ from violent crimes.
  7. Define cybercrime and how to protect oneself from victimization by identity theft.
  8. Recognize and explain the differences between various types of criminal gangs and their criminal enterprises.

Learner Outcomes:





·         Define the basic terminology used in criminal investigations



·         Class discussion

·         Quizzes and/or exams


·         Know the differences between the various property and violent crimes

·         Recognize the current issues that affect law enforcement


·         Quizzes and/or exams

·         Class discussion

·         Written assignments


·         Explain how to conduct a criminal investigation depending on the type of crime

·         Understand the role and responsibilities of the investigator



·         Quizzes and/or exams

·         Class discussion


·         Know the legal requirements for searches, interrogations, and identification of suspects

·         Understand the importance of preparing for court



·         Quizzes and/or exams


·         Know the components of a properly prepared investigative report

·         Understand various forensic techniques


·         Class discussion

·         Internet research

·         Written assignments



Method of Instruction:  Lecture, classroom discussion, videos, guest speakers, reading and writing assignments.



Course Requirements:  Students are responsible for reading assigned chapters prior to the scheduled class meeting(s).  Additionally, students should be prepared to discuss text material during class, as well as relevant newsworthy information when called upon.  All students are encouraged to participate in class discussions and group activities.  Contributions to the class are directly proportional to the quality and quantity of knowledge gained.  All class participation will be evaluated and incorporated into the final grade.  Participation credit can help a student if he/she is within a point or two of the next highest grade by pushing the student up to the higher grade.  Students can earn participation credit if they contribute to class discussions, share relevant experiences, demonstrate familiarity with the assigned reading, bring news articles to use in class discussions, and actively participate in class activities.

Exams:  Exams may employ multiple choice, true-false, matching, fill-in-the-blank, or essay style questions.  Exams will not be cumulative.  Exams will be based on the material presented since the preceding exam.  Generally, there will be no make-up exams.  However, if you miss an exam, you must make arrangements with the instructor before the other students’ exam is graded and returned or you will not be able to make up the exam.  There are no make-ups for the final exam except under extreme emergency situations approved ahead of time.



Grading Policy:  Grading is based on a point system, as outlined below:





Cumulative Points

Percentage Grade


Section Exams





Final Exam





Short Papers (2)










Total Points2


299 or less




1Quizzes may be given if students demonstrate that they have not been reading assignments.

2Total points may be adjusted based on the total sum of assignments as determined by the instructor.



Current Issues:  Each student is encouraged to read newspapers or via the Web for topics of interest and current issues that are related to the study of criminal justice.  Students are asked to bring articles to class so that they may be discussed.



Guest Speakers:  If possible, guest speakers may be asked to address topics covered in the text.  Please show respect for our guests. Each of them has graciously agreed to visit with us on their own time.  They are excited about the opportunity to talk about their experiences.  Ask questions and be attentive.  Some of the information presented may appear on tests so please take notes.  You will be advised when guest speakers are scheduled.


Great Basin College General Policies:  For information regarding GBC General Policies pertaining to topics on Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Sexual Harassment, academic honesty/plagiarism, and conduct within the educational environment, please read the posting on Web Campus under GBC General Policies.  Thank you!



General instructions for written assignments:  Please check out the section entitled “Writing Samples” on the Web Campus site.


Written Assignments:


A.         Assignments will be due throughout the course of the semester.  Students will receive instructions on assignment requirements, how to complete the assignment, how the assignment will be evaluated and the due date via Web Campus.


B.        There may be additional assignments required of students via the Internet or on Web Campus such as researching websites, reading articles, participation in discussion boards, etc.



Note:  The course content and following schedule may be changed to meet the needs of the class or at the discretion of the instructor.


Course and Reading Schedule:


August 27—September 17                  Basic Investigative Responsibilities

                                                            September 3—Labor Day Holiday—No Class

·         Introductions, Course Overview

·         Chapter 1—Criminal Investigation:  An Overview

·         Chapter 2—Documenting the Crime Scene:  Note Taking, Photographing and Sketching

·         Chapter 3—Writing Effective Reports

·         Chapter 4—Searches

·         Chapter 5— Forensics/Physical Evidence

·         Chapter 6— Obtaining Information

·         Chapter 7—Identifying and Arresting Suspects


September 24—October 15                 Investigating Violent Crimes


·         Chapter 8—Death Investigations

·         Chapter 9—Assault, Domestic Violence, Stalking and Elder Abuse

·         Chapter 10—Sex Offenses

·         Chapter 11—Crimes Against Children

·         Chapter 12--Robbery


October 22—November 7                    Investigating Crimes Against Property

                                                            October 26—Nevada Day Holiday

·         Chapter 13—Burglary

·         Chapter 14—Larceny/Theft, Fraud, White-Collar Crime and Environmental Crime

·         Chapter 15—Motor Vehicle Theft

·         Chapter 16—Arson, Bombs and Explosives


November 19—December 5                Other Challenges to the Criminal Investigator

                                                            November 12—Veteran’s Day Holiday—No Class

                                                            November 22-23—Thanksgiving Day Holiday

·         Chapter 17—Computer Crime and Its Evolution to Cybercrime

·         Chapter 18—A Dual Threat: Drug-Related Crime and Organized Crime

·         Chapter 19—Criminal Activities of Gangs and Other Dangerous Groups

·         Chapter 20—Terrorism and Homeland Security—Read No Lecture

·         Chapter 21—Preparing for and Presenting Cases in Court



Exam Schedule:






Exam 1

Exam 2

Exam 3

Final Exam


Great Basin College


General Policies


The Americans with Disabilities Act


The instructor is willing to make reasonable accommodations for limitations due to any disability, including learning disabilities.  Please see me before or after class to discuss any special needs you may have.  Students may also contact the college ADA officer at 775-753-2271.  Please see information posted on page 35 of the GBC catalog.


Sexual Harassment Policy


The policy of GBC is to provide an educational, employment, and business environment free of unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal and/or physical conduct or communications constituting sexual harassment, as defined and otherwise prohibited by State and Federal law.  Sexual harassment by and between: employees, students, employees and students, and campus visitors and students or employees, is prohibited by this policy.  Please review the information provided by the GBC catalog on page 29.


Academic Honesty


All students assume, as part of their obligation to the college, the responsibility to exhibit in their academic performance, qualities of honesty and integrity.  All forms of student dishonesty are subject to disciplinary action.  Students are strongly encouraged to do their own work and give full credit to the work of those they incorporate into any submitted assignments.  To do otherwise is plagiarism.


Great Basin College’s approved definition of plagiarism is as follows:


“Plagiarism is presenting someone else’s word, ideas or data as one’s own.  When a student submits work that includes the words, ideas, or data of others, the source of that information must be acknowledged through complete, accurate, and specific references; and if verbatim statements are included, through quotation marks as well.  In academically honest writing or speaking, the students will acknowledge the source whenever:


Educational Environment Conduct


Consistent with a collegiate environment of educational study, students are expected to conduct themselves in a manner appropriate for an institution of higher learning.  The disruption or obstruction of teaching will not be tolerated.  Students are expected to be respectful and tolerant of diverse opinions/ideas even if they do not agree with them.


The discussion of criminal justice issues often requires a “real world” look at topics and pertinent issues.  Students should be aware that this course might generate discussions, use videos, and have guest speakers, etc., which portray a graphic and honest look at deviant behavior and crime.  If you are easily offended, please let the instructor know so that you may be excused from participation in such issues.


Students should also familiarize themselves with the section on student conduct policy on pages 28-32 of the Great Basin College catalog regarding misconduct, disciplinary proceeding procedure, hearing procedure, appeal and disciplinary action.