University of Central Missouri: UCM’s Criminal Justice Students Celebrate 20-year Regional Winning Streak

Recently speaking to a group of more than 30 students and a handful of current and past faculty members, Lynn Urban, chair of the University of Central Missouri School of Public Services, asked the gathering to look closely at a large display of regional and national trophies on a table in the UCM Alumni Chapel. While these awards collectively represented the unrivaled success of UCM’s criminal justice team, Urban suggested the audience take note of three recently updated trophies which she said likely went unnoticed amid the group’s recent regional triumph.

“How many of you knew there was a traveling trophy,” Urban asked in talking about the significance of each of those honors captured in competitions sponsored by the Lambda Alpha Epsilon (LAE) American Criminal Justice Association (ACJA). Not surprised by her audience’s silence, she explained, “That’s because they haven’t traveled for 20 years.”

Among these honors is the LAE Region III Sweepstakes Trophy, which was recently updated to signify UCM’s 20th consecutive regional championship. The university’s Gamma Epsilon Delta (LAE-GED) chapter of the ACJA re-claimed this trophy, along with many new individual awards during the competition Oct. 14-17 in Garden City, Kansas. Colleges and universities from across Kansas and Missouri participated in the event, which also included four UCM faculty members and 28 students from UCM’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology. The team not only captured the top overall award, but its members also were recognized with honors such as the LAE Top Academic and Top Gun awards. These achievements were celebrated during an awards reception Nov. 9 that also highlighted successes over the past 20 years.

Team advisor Gregg Etter, professor of criminal justice, said the ACJA was established in 1937, and since that time UCM is the only chapter to win 20 consecutive regional Sweepstakes Awards. The university’s LAE-GED chapter also has the distinction of being the first and only team to win 18 consecutive national LAE titles, which UCM will seek to defend during the spring 2022 academic year.

In talking about the reasons behind the team’s success, Etter said, “A lot of that has to go to faculty, but the majority – the lion’s share – has to go to the students.”

He praised students for the work they have committed in areas such as academics, firearms, and physical agility that have contributed to them winning at the highest levels. The commitment of all individuals involved in preparing for and participating in these regional and national competitions was a common theme among the recognition event’s speakers.

“Twenty years in a row. That tells us a lot about your skills, your performance and your dedication to the University of Central Missouri, but also the dedication of your professors,” said Jose Mercado, dean of the Harmon College of Business and Professional Studies.
Mercado joined Urban in presenting certificates to UCM students and faculty who contributed to the team’s regional win. The competition included five academic exams on criminal law, policing, juvenile justice, corrections and LAE knowledge. Other competitive events dealt with knowledge and skills in crime scene investigation, physical agility, and firearms. There also was an opportunity for students to create academic posters to submit for judging.

Caleb Ross, a senior criminal justice major from Grain Valley, Missouri, was the LAE Top Academic Award recipient, based on his overall success in taking the academic exams, in which he finished first on three tests, and also achieved second- and third-place finishes on the remaining exams. Additionally, he placed third in the upper division firearms competition, both individually and as part of a three-member team; was first in the male category for physical agility; and first in the academic poster competition.

Asked about his success in the academic part of the competition, Ross simply noted, “You just go in, take the test, and trust God. That’s all you can do.”

He also stressed the support of individuals such as Etter, for his leadership in advising the LAE chapter; UCM Professor Emeritus Roger Pennel, for his work in assisting the campus chapter and the region; and the support of Richard Gillespie, an emeriti member of UCM’s Department of Public Safety who works with criminal justice students in providing firearms training. Gillespie set a good example as a competitor by capturing the 2021 Top Gun trophy in the competition which has a division for professionals.

Listed below is a complete list of UCM students and faculty members who finished within the top three in each division of the Region III competition, and the number of trophies earned in these categories:


ACADEMIC AWARDS (30 trophies)

LAE Knowledge

2nd Place, Lower Division – Christopher Barton
3rd Place, Lower Division – Molly LaPointe
1st Place, Upper Division – Caleb Ross
2nd Place, Upper Division – Joshua Terrell
3rd Place, Upper Division – Gavin Powell
1st Place, Professional Division – Roger Pennel


Juvenile Justice

2nd Place, Lower Division – Molly LaPointe
3rd Place, Lower Division – Christopher Barton
1st Place, Upper Division – Caleb Ross
2nd Place, Upper Division – Jacob McBee
2nd Place-Professional Division – Gregg Etter


Police Management and Operations

2nd Place, Lower Division – Christopher Barton
3rd Place, Lower Division – Molly LaPointe
1st Place, Upper Division – Jacob McBee
2nd Place, Upper Division – Taigan Rogers
3rd Place, Upper Division – Caleb Ross
1st Place, Professional Division – Gregg Etter
2nd Place, Professional Division – Roger Pennel


Corrections

2nd Place, Lower Division – Molly LaPointe
3rd Place, Lower Division – Lauren Gruber
1st Place, Upper Division – Caleb Ross
3rd Place, Upper Division – Jessica Miller
3rd Place, Professional Division – Gregg Etter


Criminal Law

2nd Place, Lower Division- Molly LaPointe
3nd Place, Lower Division – Mathew Lovesee
1st Place, Upper Division – Taigan Rogers
2st Place, Upper Division – Caleb Ross
3rd Place, Upper Division – Alicia Atkinson
2nd Place, Professional Division – Gregg Etter
3rd Place, Professional Division – Roger Pennel


FIREARMS (seven trophies)

Individual

2nd Place, Upper Division – Jacob McBee
3rd Place, Upper Division – Caleb Ross
1st Place, Professional Division, Richard Gillespie

Team

1st Place, Lower Division – Mathew Lovesee, Joshua Nuttall, Molly LaPointe
1st Place, Upper Division -Jacob McBee, Sam Espey, Taigan Rogers
3rd Place, Upper Division – Caleb Ross, Joshua Terrell, Margie Short
2nd Place, Professional Division – Roger Gillespie, Gregg Etter, Lauren Gruber


CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION (Team Competition) (four trophies)

1st Place, Lower Division – Raegan Belsha, Molly LaPointe, Joshua Nuttall
2nd Place, Lower Division – Marissa Kendrick, Ethan Cupp, Emma Klein, Lauren Gruber
3rd Place, Upper Division – Calley Niewig. Victoria Shook, Ethan Cupp
3rd Place-Professional Division – Nathan Sheehan, Margie Short, Roger Pennel


PHYSICAL AGILITY (four trophies)

3rd Place, Female, 25 and under, Lauren Gruber
1st Place, Female, 36 and over, Margie Short
1st Place, Male, 25 and under Caleb Ross
1st Place, Male, 36 and over, Richard Gillespie


ACADEMIC POSTER COMPETITION (four trophies)

3rd Place, Lower Division- Joshua Nuttal
1st Place, Upper Division- Caleb Ross
3rd Place, Upper Division- Victoria Shook
2nd Place, Graduate Division-Joshua Terrell

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