When criminal justice majors Rachel Klein, Matthew Eudy and Johnson Binion graduate in May, they will have a leg up on most other new college graduates looking to start careers in law enforcement. Because Pfeiffer University’s criminal justice program now offers students the opportunity to complete Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) at Stanly Community College (SCC) as part of the criminal justice curriculum –making it the first university in North Carolina to do so—Rachel, Matthew and Johnson will be eligible to begin working immediately as sworn officers. In fact, Rachel and Matthew have been hired by the Albemarle Police Department and will launch their careers this summer after they pass the Police Officer Agility Test and state exam.
“All sworn officers, whether or not they have a college degree, must complete and pass BLET as a requirement for employment. For students enrolled in most undergraduate criminal justice programs, this means they must wait an additional 6-12 months after graduating to begin earning a paycheck while they complete BLET,” said Dr. Heather Burkard, associate professor of criminal justice. “Prior to this agreement with SCC, a few students every year made the choice to leave Pfeiffer to enroll directly in a BLET course so they could accelerate their availability for work. Since this agreement was implemented last fall, I’m pleased to say we haven’t lost one student for this reason.”
Pfeiffer students know that having an undergraduate degree makes a difference when starting a law enforcement career, even though it isn’t always a condition for employment. Besides being eligible for promotions and salary increases that are inaccessible to non-degree holders, the students are able to take advantage of internship, cadet and ride-along opportunities while in school to prepare them for the realities of the field—and in the meantime, gain valuable critical thinking and communication skills that typically develop with an undergraduate experience.
“The depth of Pfeiffer’s criminal justice program, my internship and extracurricular experiences, and BLET certification, make us competitive candidates,” said Rachel.
Because Rachel, Matthew and Johnson—the first Pfeiffer students to complete the BLET course as undergrads—have rigorous classroom and test-taking experience, they take in stride the tests and other evaluations that are part of the BLET experience.
“The first few weeks of the BLET course provided a review of material we’d learned in our classes,” said Johnson, who received the 2017 Criminal Justice Student of the Year Award and aspires to work as a detective or for a federal agency. “We’re confident that we not only understand the subject matter but know how to approach the tests.”
Rachel, who completed an internship as a Pfeiffer undergraduate with the Albemarle Police Department, and Matthew, who has been involved since high school with the Stanly County Law Enforcement Cadet Program, credit these affiliations as factors important to their job offers.
“My cadet experience—combined with everything else that is part of the criminal justice program at Pfeiffer—prepared me to be hired,” said Matthew.
Before students enrolled in BLET, Dr. Heather Burkard and Dr. Rosalynn Harrington from Pfeiffer’s criminal justice program worked with Christi Almond, BLET director, law enforcement training, Stanly Community College, to discuss ways to prepare students for success in BLET.
“Pfeiffer’s student are positive, enthusiastic and willing to learn about serving their community,” said Ms. Almond. “They bring leadership to classroom and practical exercises and help others by asking questions and making each one accountable. They work as a team and I believe that comes from their experience at Pfeiffer.”