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Portrait Gallery: Scott Belshaw, private investigator

Scott BelshawScott Belshaw has been asked to investigate suspicious activity near the moon. But he is usually involved in studying juvenile justice with his criminal justice students.

What is your position? How long have you been at UNT? 

 I am an assistant professor of criminal justice, and I have been here for two years. Some of the classes I teach include Ethics in Criminal Justice, Juvenile Justice, Offender Behavior, and graduate-level psychology-related crime classes. I am also the executive director of the Private Investigators' Training Academy at the Professional Development Institute at UNT.

 What is your academic and professional background?

I hold a bachelor's degree in social sciences from University of Houston-Downtown; a master's of liberal arts/philosophy from Houston Baptist University; a master's of arts in criminology from the University of Houston-Clear Lake; and a doctorate in juvenile criminal justice from Prairie View A&M University.

I started out as an adult probation officer in Harris County, supervising sex offenders and other high-risk probationers. I was eventually promoted to chief liaison probation officer, serving as advisor to the judge of a county criminal court. I left to obtain my private investigator's license and started my own investigations firm, which I owned for almost 10 years before entering academia.

 How does the U.S. compare with other countries in use of capital punishment? 

The biggest difference between the United States and the rest of the world was our stance of executing offenders that committed offenses as juveniles. In 2005, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Roper v. Simmons that executing offenders who committed the offense under the age of 18 constitutes "cruel and unusual punishment."

How do you think teens and kids can stay out of trouble? 

I believe that a more efficient use of juvenile mentoring can help decrease the incidents of delinquency in Texas. Juvenile mentoring programs that are effective offer at-risk juveniles a solid foundation of what a healthy relationship is supposed to be like. Most of these juveniles have never been exposed to this positive interaction; that is why it is so desperately needed.

What are some of the most interesting or bizarre cases you investigated or mitigated?

I once had a client who was convinced that someone had planted an electronic bug in her dog. The vet determined that there was no bug in the dog, and my client was happy. Another client thought that Bluetooth cell phone conversations were being transmitted to a satellite on the other side of the moon. She wanted me to research the existence of the satellite, but she changed her mind when I informed her that I would have to charge her mileage. I served as a consultant to the Houston Fox news affiliate on the Clara Harris case. (Harris was given a 20-year sentence for killing her husband.)

 Tell us about your family and pets.

I have been married for 15 years and have two boys, Clayton, 12, and Dillon, 9.  I also have a Rottweiler named Daisy and two cats.

 What are your hobbies?

I am a barbecue aficionado, in both the cooking and the eating of it. I also enjoy college sports and attend as many sports events as I can.

(It's not possible to know everyone on a big, busy campus. So InHouse periodically publishes Portrait Gallery features to help us learn about our colleagues and their contributions to the university's success. Send suggestions for Portrait Gallery subjects by email to InHouse with "Portrait Gallery" in the subject line.)

(Interview by Megan Beck, student assistant, University Relations, Communications and Marketing)

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