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May 1, 2008

ULM graduate student Rawls wins 3rd place in national criminal justice competition

Amber Rawls, a graduate student in the ULM Criminal Justice Department from Bastrop, recently won a national student paper competition April 11, sponsored by the American Criminal Justice Association - Lambda Alpha Epsilon.

Rawls’ paper, “Critical Incidents: Police officers, posttraumatic stress, posttraumatic growth, and law enforcement agencies” earned third place for the graduate division in the 2008 National Student Paper Competition at the American Criminal Justice Association – Lambda Alpha Epsilon National Conference. The paper examines how critical incidents affect the local and neighboring law enforcement agencies, the importance of identifying and assisting officers suffering from posttraumatic stress, and how to develop departmental policies to encourage posttraumatic growth.

Her paper was judged by professionals in the criminal justice field and based on criteria such as relevancy of the topic, topic coverage, clarity of presentation, organization, writing style and quality, and contribution to the criminal justice field. The graduate division category of competition included those persons enrolled in an accredited post-graduate program such as a master’s or doctorate degree program.

The August 10, 2007 shootings of Bastrop Police Detective Sergeants John Smith and Chuck Wilson led Rawls, a former Bastrop Police Department patrol officer, to study the reactions of police officers following traumatic events. “The media and public become focused on the tragic event, and oftentimes overlook the police officers who are involved. Law enforcement officers are real people who may be affected profoundly by what they experience.”

The American Criminal Justice Association - Lambda Alpha Epsilon is a professional criminal justice organization consisting of 243 chapters throughout the nation. Membership is composed of persons who are formally committed to the field of criminal justice either through their education or employment. Members are drawn from the total criminal justice spectrum – law enforcement, prosecution, defense, courts and corrections.

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