Edgar Hartung, a retired FBI Agent, U.S. Air Force pilot and Vietnam vet who heads up Alvernia’s criminal justice program, regularly puts his students through an intense, 3-hour hostage-negotiation exercise called the Grand Final Scenario. It’s experiential learning at its best and makes an indelible mark on the criminal justice degree students.
“The Grand Final Scenario is basically the pinnacle of a criminal justice education at Alvernia,” says Ryan Hermany ’12, who served a six-month internship with the U.S. Marshals in Washington D.C., and recently presented a research paper at the Annual Meeting of the Academy of Criminal Justice sciences in New York City. “It takes all of the things that you’ve learned in your criminal justice training and asks you to use it in a nerve-racking, close-to-real-life hostage situation.
The criminal justice students set up a command post -- complete with a field commander, intelligence officer, two recorder/status board officers, a public information officer and a five-person tactical team -- and quickly get to work trying to negotiate a settlement with hostage takers. Hartung posts public-safety personnel all around the area, so that anyone accidentally walking into the scenario understands it is just an exercise. To add realism, local law enforcement leaders, members of reading’s hostage negotiations team and fellow criminal justice faculty members participate in grand final scenarios as terrorists, hostages and advisors.