GURNEE, Ill. – Trine University’s Tau Alpha Omicron (TAO) chapter of the American
Criminal Justice Association (ACJA—Lambda Alpha Epsilon) won 29 of 72 possible awards
at the organization’s regional conference.
The Trine chapter co-hosted the conference Oct. 18-20 in Gurnee, Illinois, along with
a chapter out of Minnesota. Students and faculty competed against four other chapters/colleges
from throughout the Midwest in four categories: written examinations, handgun competition,
crime scene investigation and physical agility.
“This year, we had a total of 15 students attend the conference. Of those, 10 were
first-time attendees and had just joined ACJA this semester,” said Cisco Ortiz, chair
of Trine’s Department of Criminal Justice. “To prepare for the various competitions,
these students had to work hard over the past couple of months strengthening their
academic knowledge, shooting skills and physical training.”
Ortiz said the Trine chapter had not planned to host this year’s event after hosting
last year, but stepped in when the scheduled chapter had to withdraw at the last minute.
“The TAO members joined the Beta Sigma Omega Lambda members from Minnesota and collaborated
on the efforts needed to ensure the conference would still be held,” he said. “A neutral
location was established and each chapter split the responsibilities of planning and
“Crime scene investigation is a favorite event of the TAO members, and they agreed
to facilitate that event this year,” Ortiz said. “Unfortunately, that meant the TAO
members were not eligible to compete in the CSI event. However, they put together
a very challenging event that was highly regarded by the participating chapters.”
Ortiz, a 1999 Trine graduate and one of the chapter’s faculty advisors, along with
criminal justice professor and co-advisor Mike Hess, competed in the professional
division, while the students participated in the lower and upper divisions based on
their academic year in school. Hess wrote the four examinations taken by the attending
students and advisors.
Trine’s team members won 15 academic awards for testing in the knowledge areas of
criminal law, corrections, juvenile justice, police management and the history of
ACJA— Lambda Alpha Epsilon, and 14 awards in the three other competitions. Awards
were as follows:
- Criminal Law — Grace Haliena, an informatics major/criminal justice minor from Defiance,
Ohio, won first place and Jacob Bolen, a sophomore criminal justice major from Auburn,
Indiana, won third place in the lower division. MaKenna Knuth, a criminal justice
major from Lake Villa, Illinois, won second place in the upper division.
- Corrections – Grace Haliena won first place and Devin Daniel, a sophomore criminal
justice major from Huntington, Indiana, won second place in the lower division. Alexa
Marlow, a junior criminal justice major from Saint Mary’s, Ohio, won third place in
the upper division. Prof. Ortiz won second place in the professional division.
- Juvenile Justice – Grace Haliena won first place, Hannah Vankersen, a sophomore criminal
justice major form Coldwater, Michigan, won second place and Devin Daniel won third
place in the lower division. MaKenna Knuth won first place in the upper division and
Prof. Ortiz won third place in the professional division.
- Police Management – Grace Haliena won first place in the lower division.
- ACJA-LAE History – Grace Haliena won second place in lower division and MaKenna Knuth
won third place in upper division.
Ben Davage, a senior design engineering technology student from Hamilton, Michigan,
placed second in the male 18-25 years of age division. Prof. Ortiz placed third in
the male 35 years and older division. Sweeping all places in the female 18-25 years
of age division were Alexa Marlow, first, Grace Haliena, second, and Brooke Neitzert,
a freshman criminal justice major from Coldwater, Michigan, placing third.
Dakota Snyder, a freshman criminal justice major from St. Joe, Indiana, won first
place, and Trenton Sakos, a sophomore criminal justice major from Pioneer, Ohio, placed
second in the lower division. Ben Davage placed first and Julia Jimenez, a senior
criminal justice/psychology double major from Bronson, Michigan, placed third in the
upper division. Prof. Ortiz placed third in the professional division.
Handgun team (three-person team)
Brooke Neitzert, Miyah Holmes, a freshman criminal justice major from Fort Wayne,
Indiana, and Allie Curdes, a freshman criminal justice major from Fort Wayne, Indiana,
won third place in the lower division. Ben Davage, Griffin Watson, a sophomore criminal
justice major from Sterling Heights, Michigan, and Dakota Snyder won first place in
the upper division. Julia Jimenez, Trenton Sakos and Luke Williams, a sophomore criminal
justice major from Hudson, Indiana, won second place in the upper division. Prof.
Ortiz and two non-TAO members placed third in the professional division.
Top photo: Front row, from left: Alexa Marlow (chapter secretary), Brooke Neitzert, Hannah
Vankersen, MaKenna Knuth (chapter president), Julia Jimenez, Allie Curdes; middle,
Luke Williams, Dakota Snyder, Grace Haliena (chapter vice president), Miyah Holmes;
back, Devin Daniel (chapter social/induction chair), Cisco Ortiz (chapter co-advisor),
Jacob Bolen (chapter treasurer), Ben Davage (handgun team captain), Griffin Watson
and Trenton Sakos. Not pictured: Mike Hess, co-advisor.