Criminal Justice Week was hosted at Utah Valley University last week, where experts in backgrounds as varied as death investigators to FBI agents shared their experiences. The speakers each offered a unique perspective on the state of crime and punishment, both past and present.
The week started off with a presentation by Jason Bullock, a deputy and death investigator for Utah’s Office of the Medical Examiner. Anyone who has watched a police procedural will probably have heard of a medical examiner (ME). In Utah, the ME is an appointed official whose job is to determine and sign off on the cause of death for a number of different situations. Though this is by no means an exhaustive list, a few situations are any form of violent death, such as a suicide or homicide, and any death that is “unattended.” An unattended death is one where the deceased hasn’t been seen by a doctor for a year and hasn’t filled out any prescriptions.
As you can imagine, this is a gruesome job. One thing that Criminal Justice Week strives to do is give current students an opportunity to learn from those who have extensive experience in their fields of interest. Mr. Bullock offered an in-depth look at the work a death investigator does on a day-to-day basis. He explained that the job takes empathy because they have to help people through the worst days of their lives.
If there’s one thing that can be said of the pandemic, it’s that everyone has been affected in profound ways, and law enforcement is no different. Mr. Bullock shared how the coronavirus affects him as an investigator. After explaining that the number of deaths in Utah per year is around five or six thousand, he explained that this year that number has exceeded 10,000. In four days, he and another investigator dealt with over thirty victims of the virus and only two of those were unvaccinated.
Another topic Mr. Bullock addressed was suicide. According to statistics from the Utah Department of Health, the number of suicides in the state per year has more than doubled since 2000. Because he’s witnessed the aftermath of so many of these tragedies, Mr. Bullock was passionate about the importance of not being afraid to talk about suicide and the importance of letting people know that they are not alone.
As everyone is aware, we live in an imperfect and oftentimes scary world. According to their website, UVU’s criminal justice program has been training people to create a better and safer world for over 25 years. They focus on exceptional care, integrity, responsibility and safety.
Criminal Justice Week was a great opportunity to learn about the state of affairs in various law enforcement organizations right now and in the past, but more importantly, it allowed students to learn from the brave men and women who are trying to create a stronger and safer community right now.