Case closed: Grad student headed to CSI position
May 14, 2008 3:39 PM | Print
It was love at first autopsy for Wichita State University graduate student Carla Patton. The 41-year-old California native is the newest crime scene investigator for the Wichita Police Department.
Fresh on the job as of May 13, Patton is doing her part to snuff out crime in the city. Her new position comes in the same week she graduates from WSU with her master's degree in criminal justice.
Patton has been interested in the court system and law enforcement for many years and began her undergraduate studies at WSU in fall 2002.
"I think it is fascinating how small pieces of evidence by themselves don't necessarily prove anything," she said, "but put them together, and they can tell what crime was committed and how. For those who die and the cause and manner of death aren't known, the body tells the tale."
She and her parents moved to Wichita from Oxnard, Calif., in 1989 because they grew tired of the traffic and smog, choosing Kansas because her father is originally from here.
When Patton earned her bachelor's degree, she also won Senior Honor Woman, the highest award given annually to five women graduating from the criminal justice department.
After winning the prestigious award, she was motivated to continue for a master's degree, which she did in 2006.
Before going to college, Patton worked in retail management. She eventually decided college was something she needed to do.
"What WSU taught me was what I put my mind to, I can do," she said. "It gave me a sense of confidence and achievement."
Patton said her time spent at WSU has been more than worthwhile. Being in the classroom with WPD lieutenant and WSU lecturer Kenneth Landwehr was one of her most memorable experiences.
In order to help students gain a real sense of what working in the law enforcement field is like, Landwehr didn't protect the class from the brutality of cases.
"He gives you the whole enchilada," she said. "I took both of his classes while he was trying to catch BTK, and after he and his team caught him, we gave him a standing ovation in class."
To be a part of a system that works to "solve crimes, prosecute criminals and keep order in society," Patton said, is something she is proud of.
She plans to stay in Wichita, eventually hoping to move up within the police department.
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