Virginia State Trooper Derrick Mauck has been to Triplett Tech several times over the last fews years to talk to students seeking a career in the field of Criminal Justice. His latest visit was different. When he came to Triplett on December 20th, Trooper Mauck brought “back-up” with him. Three Virginia State Police (VSP) personnel who are members of the Bomb Squad accompanied him as did a robot that can be used for bomb disposal. Parked at the school was also the impressive Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) truck.
Criminal Justice Instructor Donna Kinsey invited Trooper Mauck to come to Triplett to talk about career opportunities in law enforcement and to give students an opportunity to ask questions and personally meet members of the state police up-close. VSP sworn positions total over 2,000 that range from troopers to special agents to supervisors. “They actually get to see us as human beings,” said Trooper Mauck. “And that is beneficial.”
The December police visit began in the classroom where Trooper Mauck presented some hard facts about simply gaining entry into any career that involves law enforcement. The background check is extensive. “Investigators talked to my elementary and high school guidance counselors,” he said. They wanted to know if I had any issues with “respect” even when I was young. Of course, DMV records and criminal records are also scrutinized. Trooper Mauck emphasized the importance of a clean driving record, and the fact that investigators look for any drug or alcohol abuse. Students assume that records of crimes committed as a juvenile are not accessible or disappear once they turn eighteen and legally become adults, said Trooper Mauck, but they are mistaken. He explained that police can access all records of someone who is an applicant for police work. “They will ask for passwords to your social media accounts,” he added, and typically there is a polygraph test (lie detector), all part of a rigorous background investigation to ensure the Department selects the “top candidate” for the job.
Students followed Trooper Mauck and members of the VSP Bomb Squad to Triplett’s parking lot where they were invited inside the BCI vehicle, which is called the Bomb Squad Response Truck. The truck is filled with bomb squad equipment including the bomb disposal robot, a portable x-ray system, several bomb suits, SCBA and additional air tanks, HAZMAT suits, an environmental crimes response kit, and other miscellaneous tools essential to performing the job.
Outside the vehicle, students’ watched as the robot moved across the parking lot to x-ray a “suspicious” box. Special Agent Webster (below) then showed the students how he was able to view the contents of the box from a safe position inside the Bomb Squad Response Truck.
Special Agent Webster works inside the Bomb Squad
The four members of the State Police, who visited Triplett Tech on December 20, 2016, are (from left) VA State Trooper Derrick Mauck, who is stationed in Shenandoah County; First Sergeant Jay Perry (BCI--Bureau of Criminal Investigation), Culpeper Division Bomb Squad Supervisor; and Special Agent Jane Gibbs (BCI) and Special Agent Brian Webster (BCI) also assigned to the Culpeper Division Bomb Squad. Special Agent Webster explained that there are seven division offices throughout Virginia, each one having similar equipment. The separate squads often assist each other with assignments across the state.
Special Agent Webster explained the many capabilities and uses of their robot, which is a Remotec Andros F6A. Andros robots are a series of remote control robots designed by Remotec for military and law enforcement applications. The robot is heavy, but mobile having both tires and treads. Though it cannot move very fast, the robot can climb over logs and stairs and go over curbs making it useful for going into remote locations or inside buildings where it might not be safe for the police to enter. Equipped with cameras and sensors, the robot has an arm that can be extended and a gripper “hand” that can pick up and carry items and gather information. Police and the military typically use the robot to investigate potential bombs and carry them to a remote destination where they can be denoted by explosives the robot carries. Students watched as the robot remotely drove itself to a “suspicious” box in a nearby field and used a stream of highly compressed water shot from a tube-like barrel to blast the box apart. The robot, likewise, could be used to carry food or medicine to a hostage or a phone to someone the police wanted to negotiate with.
The Remotec Andros intrigued students who gathered close to both record and learn all that they could about the workings and movement of the robot.
Stonewall Jackson juniors Caleb Fauver and Brandon Helsley donned the bomb suits as part of the demonstrations. “They’ll keep you in one piece,” noted Caleb, who added with a laugh, “That is what they told us!”
The bomb suits are heavy suits of body armour weighing about 80 pounds. They are hot and hard to move in but do provide some protection from an explosion.
Both Brandon and Caleb were glad the state troopers came to Triplett Tech. For both young men, attending the session confirmed their desire to work in law enforcement. Brandon has wanted to be either a musician or a policeman since he was a little boy. For Caleb, his career options as a child included the military and the National Football League. Caleb is considering joining the military as a gateway into police work.
The session with the State Troopers was a “really cool experience and opened up my mind,” Caleb commented. Brandon and Caleb were not aware that the bomb squad and police robot were stationed in our area.
The Triplett Tech Class of 2017 Criminal Justice students pose in front of the BCI vehicle on a cold, December morning.
Triplett’s Criminal Justice course is dual enrolled with Lord Fairfax Community College. This means that Shenandoah County students who successfully complete the course will earn credits both at SCPS and LFCC. Beginning with the second semester, TT will offer Criminal Justice II, also offered as dual enrollment. The courses at Triplett provide “a foundational understanding of police work,” noted Katie Rice, Supervisor of CTE/STEM for Shenandoah County Public Schools. Upon graduation from high school, Triplett’s students may continue Criminal Justice courses at LFCC.
Donna M. Kinsey, adjunct professor at Lord Fairfax Community College, also teaches Criminal Justice at Triplett Tech. Mrs. Kinsey, who holds a Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership (St. Thomas University in Miami, Florida) and a Master’s in Public Administration (Barry University in Miami, Florida), came to Triplett Tech in 2016 with 29 years of Law Enforcement experience and numerous accolades including being the first woman selected to attend the FBI National Academy. She holds certification as a trainer in “Law Enforcement Response to Active Shooter” and developed and implemented the Department’s “Active Shooter Scenario Training Protocol.” Though she has taught adults and college age students, the position at Triplett Tech is her first experience teaching high school students.
In a letter of commendation to Police Lieutenant Richard Boyd of the Virginia State Police, Mrs. Kinsey wrote:
Although the local media was on hand to record several of the exhibits and demonstrations, they could not capture the thrill, excitement and appreciation felt by the students who were fortunate enough to have been part of the day’s events and be exposed to the level of professionalism that is demonstrated by your organization.
On behalf of the Criminal Justice program at Triplett Tech, I would like to commend Senior Trooper D.A. Mauck, First Sergeant Jay Perry, Special Agent Brian Webster and Special Agent Jane Gibbs for their dedication and commitment to not only serving and protecting the citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia, but also for making a difference in the lives of potential, future law enforcement leaders.
Trooper Mauck poses with three students enrolled
in Professor Kinsey’s Criminal Justice course at