ATLANTA—Two years ago, criminal justice alumna Ramona Christ was just an undergraduate intern with big ideas. Now she’s a mover and shaker in the Smyrna Police Department, having transformed a desk job into a full-fledged career after seeing a need that drove her to effect change.
Early into her internship, Christ recognized the need for big change in the Evidence Unit. She used the tools learned in her internship course to find realistic, manageable, long-term and creative ways to implement a plan of action that she shared on her end-of-semester internship presentation board, ‘Efficient Evidence Purging: A Strategic Plan for Incoming and Past Evidence.”
After her internship, Christ accepted a position there as the Criminal Investigation Division administrative assistant and continued assisting the evidence supervisor, Detective Ron Eaton.
“Soon after being hired, I begged to be in the evidence room,” said Christ. “I thought that learning about evidence would be a good introduction to the forensic side of criminal justice that I have always been drawn to.”
Det. Eaton, now a sergeant, became her supervisor in the evidence room. Christ started to see ways she could upgrade some departmental policies and procedures based on her coursework at Georgia State University.
Clinical Assistant Professor Michael Shapiro coordinates the Undergraduate Internship Program. “In broad strokes, each student plans an objective for their internship, identifies challenges at their site, consults with peers, proposes solutions and reflects on the process” he said. “When it came to proposing solutions, Christ was ready.”
Christ proposed using a more efficient evidence software, FileOnQ, to process backlogged evidence and establish a procedure for dealing with future evidence and suggested new documentation procedures to facilitate the proper storage and easy retrieval of evidence. She has assisted in redesigning space including the first Officer Packaging Area, implemented new evidence software implementation and updated policy, procedures and training.
She has also taken on the enormous project of purging evidence no longer relevant to open cases, after entering it into the new software system.
By completely overhauling how the Smyrna Police Department treats evidence, Christ has contributed to its state accreditation, a certification that represents significant professional accomplishment for the department. “This was a big thing for command staff,” she said. She was recognized with an Employee of the Quarter Award for her contribution.
Aside from her work in the Evidence Unit, Christ became the first civilian crime scene technician at the Smyrna Police Department, spending her time on crime scenes and processing evidence at the department’s Forensic Lab. She provides training and resources on proper evidence collection, handling, documenting and packaging to officers and is working on teaching a latent print development course to both police and fire. Sgt. Eaton is now her mentor and partner in the field.
Associate Professor Mark Reed remembers Christ as an excellent student, thorough in her treatment of the internship experience. “This is what makes us proud of our students. Her success puts a spotlight on the importance of the work they do through our internship program.”
“The program made finding a job very, very easy,” said Christ. “The assignments are geared toward your success after college and 100 percent worth it.”
She continues to display her final presentation board in her office. “I can’t thank Georgia State enough for giving me the tools and confidence to be anything I set my mind to.”
-By Sumar Deen, M.S. (‘21)