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Photo courtesy of Juan Arriaga.

A team of Long Beach City College (LBCC) students is advancing to a national competition after earning high scores at a three-day criminal justice conference in San Diego.

During the American Criminal Justice Association Region 1 Conference held from October 30 to November 1, the 14-member team competed against 29 teams, 120 students overall, from places like Hawaii, Washington, California, Idaho and Nevada.

Members from the LBCC team placed in the top three in seven categories. Winners included:

  • Michael Biggs: 1st place in corrections
  • Marcus Morgan, Eric Amores and Juan Arriaga: 2nd place in crime scene investigation
  • Karen Barraza: 2nd place in Lambda Alpha Epsilon knowledge
  • Abraham Soto: 3rd place in Lambda Alpha Epsilon knowledge
  • Jennifer Ponce: 3rd place in women’s physical agility
  • Eric Amores: 3rd place in police management
  • Juan Arriaga: 3rd place in corrections

Because the team did so well in this competition, they are advancing to the national conference being held in Nashville in March 2015.

Divided into three days, the conference is a mixture of educational meetings and competitions. Michael Biggs, the LBCC team’s advisor said training for the competition works in conjunction with the criminal justice students’ normal class studies.

The team raised $1.2K from various fundraisers and received a $1K grant from the school’s Associated Student Body to attend the competition. The benefits of competing in these types of conferences are many, Biggs said.

“The students get to test themselves against regional and nationally acclaimed students,” he said. “The competition is tough. Students get to find out what they are made of. They must plan, travel, stay in a new city and be on time and ready to go for their tests and competitions. As our students will tell you, it is not as easy as it looks. There is also a social aspect to the competition and our students get to mix with others of a similar mind set and with similar career aspirations.”

Team member Juan Arriaga added that the students get a taste of commaderie and the chance to apply the skills they are learning in class.

“You find that you have something in common with everyone at the conference and it unites you,” he said. “You get the opportunity of using what you learn in class against people outside of your school. Earning medals just proves that LBCC teachers are doing something right. As a student interested in the criminal justice field, you get to see that there is competition in the field. There are plenty of retired officers that are willing to help and lead you down the right path. I also get to network and find out how other clubs fund raise and their recruitment process.”