Northwestern College Criminal Justice Students Get Visit from Oak Lawn Fire Department Battalion Chief
Northwestern College’s Criminal Justice students continue to benefit from partnerships with area investigative professionals in Oak Lawn as part of their course curriculum. This fall’s Criminal Investigations Class has had multiple opportunities to learn firsthand from investigations professionals, with their final class guest speaker being Oak Lawn Fire Department Battalion Chief Michael Daly. Battalion Chief Daly appeared before the class in Week 10 of the course to talk to them about fire and arson investigations.
Battalion Chief Daly was invited to speak to the class by the Criminal Investigations course instructor Charles Chigas. As a 28 year veteran of the Oak Lawn Fire Department with 10 years as its Battalion Chief, Daly had a strong working relationship with Chigas who is a 35 year veteran of the Oak Lawn Police Department, with 10 of those years as its Chief. Now retired, Chigas works as a Criminal Justice Instructor at Northwestern College. Following along with the chapter the students were working on – Fire & Arson Investigations – Battalion Chief Daly spent 90 minutes with the students in class where he outlined details involving fire behavior; indicators of arson; investigative methods; available resources (including law enforcement, fire professional, as well as private resources); and finally, documentation and case preparation. Following the presentation, he took a number of questions from the students.
Battalion Chief Daly explained that immediately after a fire is extinguished an investigation is begun to determine its cause and point of origin, regardless of whether the fire is suspicious or criminal in nature. These investigations enjoy the cooperative efforts of fire department personnel, forensics experts, and laboratories. While not all fires are criminal in nature, fire investigators inspect and examine the scene of all fires, interview witnesses, and if the fire is determined to be potentially criminal in nature, will involve law enforcement in the investigation. Working together, a case is built that is hoped to lead to an arrest and trial in a court of law.