SMC criminal justice resumes winning ways

Published 9:00 am Thursday, April 21, 2022

DOWAGIAC — For the sixth year in a row, Southwestern Michigan College brought home gold, silver and bronze medals in the state SkillsUSA criminal justice competition in Grand Rapids over spring break.

SMC swept the competition in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2022.

“No contests were held in 2020 or 2021” due to the pandemic, according to Associate Professor Don Ricker. “Thanks to COVID, it’s like starting over, getting students interested in SkillsUSA.”

Students are evaluated on how they handle four scenarios — a traffic stop, a misdemeanor arrest, a victim interview and a 911 hang-up call.

Gold went to Ryan Peterson of South Haven, who wants to go into law enforcement as a Michigan State Police trooper. While at SMC, he completed training to become a mediator because he “wanted to be able to understand both sides of a crime rather than just one or the other.” He also plays trombone in SMC bands.

Peterson will compete in the SkillsUSA Nationals June 20-24 in Atlanta.

The silver winner, Jose Medina from Dowagiac, is vice president of the Criminal Justice Club, a Grady Scholar and a student in SMC’s Honors Program. He hopes to transfer to Grand Valley State University this fall.

Awarded bronze was Shelby Whitaker, a Dowagiac Union High School graduate who lives in Niles, where she works for Walmart. She also plans to transfer to GVSU and aspires to be a police officer.