MTSU Police, Media Relations and a Look at Death in the South (1900-1950)

Aug 21, 2023 at 09:34 am by WGNS News

Today on the Action Line we featured guests from MTSU. See show segments below:


GUEST: Capt. Jeff Martinez, MTSU Police Department

TOPIC: Bike patrol training and implementation and other PD activities

With several new officers on the force and a few years since the last training opportunity, MTSU’s Police Department offered three bike certification courses over the summer to get patrol officers certified to serve and protect on two wheels. 

The department trained 15 or so new officers over the course of the summer.

“The plan going forward is to implement bike patrol into our regular shifts; use it for football games, special events, graduations; and then maybe to offer some overtime for us to have officers on the bike doing extra patrols and be seen in the community," said Capt. Jeff Martinez.

The four-day, 32-hour course includes training on and passing an obstacle course outlined by traffic cones, practical tests on the road and a 50-question assessment, said course instructor and Master Patrol Officer Leroy Carter. The course is certified by the International Police Mountain Biking Association or IPMBA. 

The department also extended the training opportunity to the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office, Murfreesboro Police Department and Goodlettsville Police Department, training several officers from each.

Martinez said adding patrols on bike, in addition to foot and vehicle patrol, also has advantages that will allow departments to offer a fuller blanket of protection to the campus community. 

“For some of these bigger events, it’s sometimes easier to get through the crowds or parking lots because you can easily get around pedestrians,” Martinez said. “You can really see more. You don’t have the vehicle obstructions that are in the way like the mirrors, the radar units, the in-car video — all that stuff that kind obstructs your view. You’re also faster than being on foot.” 

Martinez also highlighted the greater opportunity overall for engaging with the public while on a bike. 

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GUEST: Dr. Katie Foss, media studies professor 

TOPIC: Her role as the new director of the School of Journalism and Strategic Media

As the news and media industries continue to evolve, MTSU’s School of Journalism and Strategic Media continues to evolve as well, providing opportunities for students in the program to get real-world experience and networking opportunities to help them succeed in their professional careers.

Earlier this spring, the School of Journalism and Strategic Media hosted an internationally recognized journalism organization for the first time. The 48th annual AEJMC Southeast Colloquium, a gathering of the Columbia, South Carolina-based Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, brought students and educators from across the Southeast in early March for three days of sharing research about their discipline and networking with future colleagues.

“It’s important for students to understand that we don’t just teach journalism and media concepts; we also formally study and publish on salient topics related to our discipline,” says Katie Foss, director of the university’s journalism school.

Foss, a professor of media studies specializing in health communication and television history who’s also served on the AEJMC’s board of directors, is the author of six books. The most recent, “Constructing the Outbreak: Epidemics in Media and Collective Memory,” analyzes more than 200 years of the history of disease and has seen her sought out by media outlets around the world for the last three years as an expert on coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The School of Journalism and Strategic Media is a part of the College of Media and Entertainment, and includes the Center for Innovation in Media, bringing together the University’s two campus radio stations, WMOT and WMTS, and the school newspaper, Sidelines, along with TV broadcasting facilities. The Center enhances the School curriculum with further opportunities to acquire and use digital media skills.

There are nine concentrations within the school, each with its own core faculty: Journalism: Print & broadcast, plus new concentrations in Entertainment Journalism, Social Justice Journalism, and Environmental Journalism and Communication; Advertising; Public Relations; Visual Communication; Sports Media; and Media Studies.




GUEST: Dr. Kristine McCusker, history professor 

TOPIC: Her new book, “Just Enough to Put Him Away Decent: Death Care, Life Extension and the Making of a Healthier South, 1900-1955.

Middle Tennessee State University history professor Kristine M. McCusker chronicles how scientific advancement and biblical duties collide in her latest book, “Just Enough to Put Him Away Decent: Death Care, Life Extension and the Making of a Healthier South, 1900-1955.”

A Department of History professor whose expertise is in ethnomusicology, McCusker is interested in ways cultural behaviors affect the way people think and act. When the San Francisco, California, native moved to Murfreesboro in 2000, cemeteries were a notable trend that caught her eye with memorials ranging from elaborate monuments to front-yard tombstones.

“Southerners had definite views about death and dying,” McCusker said. “It’s visually very obvious.”

McCusker also became keenly aware how death and dying began to change in the 20th century as the South began to see a “massive drop” in mortality rates. She knew there was more to the story than just science, so she garnered a $122,000 grant through the National Institutes of Health National Library of Medicine to study the cultural connections to why and how.

The magnitude of low mortality rates wasn’t fully realized until the federal government began creating death registration areas, which required funeral directors and doctors to issue certificates stating causes of death.

“Counting those causes and realizing what was killing Americans allowed health workers to begin attacking specific causes of death,” McCusker said.

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