Retired detective Tonya Rider joins the BGSU faculty

The College of Health and Human Services hired Tonya Rider, retired Toledo detective, as an instructor for students in the graduate forensic science/investigation program last fall. “I am very fortunate to have retired at a young age and begin a second career in academia,” Rider said. “However, I miss some of the wonderful people that I used to work with since I essentially ‘grew up’ on the Toledo Police Department.”

Rider served in law enforcement for 25 years, and she was the only African American homicide detective employed in Toledo. “Early on in my career it was a bit challenging as a woman, and a woman of color, simply because I worked in a male dominated field. In addition to that, I was of slight build and soft spoken, therefore I had to prove that I could handle myself in sticky situations. Over time, I developed a reputation as a hard-working, smart officer and subsequent detective.”

Rider now shares her law enforcement experiences with her students in the Master of Science in Forensic Science (MSFS) with a specialization in forensic investigation program. She is able to dispel the “sensationalism” of police work as well as share real case studies. “Students appreciate having someone with her vast experience in the classroom and they often stay after class to continue their discussions,” Marie Huff, Dean of the College of Health and Human Services, said. “We are so pleased she joined our other excellent faculty in the criminal justice program.”

Rider’s advice to students considering this degree is to find an aspect of investigations that intrigues them and learn as much as they can about it. In the spring semester five students in Rider’s sex trafficking class created and hosted a 5K run/walk to raise awareness of the sex trafficking epidemic. The run raised more than $1,900 and the funds were all donated to The Daughter Project of Wood County, which is a survivor home for juveniles who have been trafficked.

The first semester of the new MSFS program started with three students, and is expected to have up to 16 students in the fall semester. Students who graduate with a MSFS degree can obtain positions as detectives, crime scene investigators, lab analysts, positions within federal government, fire marshals and more. This program differs slightly from the Criminal Justice degree program in that it emphasizes the inclusion of science with investigations which is useful for those who have an interest in working hands on in the field.