UNION CITY — The Union City Police Department as well as Union City school officials have teamed up to offer a criminal justice course that provides students with hands on learning and career training.
“It presents a really neat opportunity for the students,” said Bill Bradbury, Union City Police Department assistant chief. “They can get a taste of the criminal justice system and get some hands on experience at the same time.”
Bradbury, who was the school’s resource officer for three years, was an instructor at a police academy for 13 years before teaching the year-long high school course.
Similar to an entry level college course, the criminal justice class is taught two hours each day and is currently only open to juniors and seniors.
“It’s a unique program and it’s getting a lot of positive feedback,” said, Aaron Black, Union City Junior/Senior High School principal.
Bradbury, who has been a police officer for 20 years, said the main focus of the class is basic criminal justice standards such as how law enforcement, court systems and corrections work.
The hands on part of the course exposes students to several different criminal justice aspects including traffic stops, crime scene investigation, fingerprinting, drug awareness, use of force, handcuffing, baton training, building clearing, field sobriety training and testing, less lethal training and CPR certification. Several field trips are taken throughout the year as well.
“They get a nice exposure even if they aren’t interested in law enforcement,” Bradbury said. “There are so many other things in the criminal justice field. My classroom, we have 10 students in it and I think that there are three or four that have a pretty strong interest in being police officers. The rest of them are either interested in things like criminal psychology, forensics, crime scene investigation, just different things.”
Each Wednesday, students also discuss current events surrounding criminal justice in the news.
“There have really been some great discussions,” Bradbury said. “Kids bringing in the stories and they have a lot of questions about what they’re reading, they get my perspective on it and they’re kind of able to have a spirited debate with each other to see if what was done was appropriate or what should’ve been done.”
Students also participate in Physical Friday’s where, every Friday, the students learn different physical tasks associated with law enforcement such as agility courses and physical tactics such as blocks, kicks and strikes.
At the end of the year, the class will participate in a mock crime scene investigation where they will have to perform an in-depth investigation, recover and collect evidence, submit evidence for proper testing and file a report.
Bradbury said, because it’s the first year for the program there is only one class offered but in the future a second class may be offered.
“There are other criminal justice programs out there but we’re starting ours from the ground up, we’re building the curriculum as we go,” Bradbury said. “It’s a lot of fun and everyone is enjoying it.”
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