Bachelor’s degree program responds to changing law enforcement needs

By St. Johns River State College

Technology is rapidly changing the law enforcement and security professions. Today, this work relies heavily on intelligence gathering and analysis of digital assets. In response to these changes, St. Johns River State College (SJR) has worked closely with local law enforcement agencies to develop a unique degree program to prevent and combat crime and assess threats in Northeast Florida.

“The time to address this need is now. Data indicates a significant unmet workforce need for graduates skilled in intelligence-related analytical skills in the criminal justice professions,” said SJR State President Joe Pickens. “With today’s approval from the State Board of Education, we’re one step closer to offering the new Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice, Applied Intelligence Studies this fall. It is one of very few programs of its kind in the state.”

The three sheriffs in the college’s service area attended the State Board of Education vote with Pickens on Wednesday in Tallahassee in support of the new program.

“With guidance from the college’s Criminal Justice Advisory Board, I am also grateful for the collaboration and support from Sheriffs Michelle Cook (Clay), Robert Hardwick (St. Johns) and H.D. “Gator” DeLoach (Putnam) in making this new opportunity for students possible this fall,” Pickens said. “The program brings both a convenient and affordable career option to our traditional students and to those seeking additional skill sets or a career change in criminal justice.”

According to DeLoach, the program will have an immediate, real-world application for the sheriff’s office and surrounding communities.

“As law enforcement has evolved, we rely heavily on intelligence-driven information in solving cases. For those who are wishing to advance in law enforcement and obtain a bachelor’s degree, this is a perfect fit for continuing education in their profession to a subject not only relevant, but pertinent, as technology is rapidly developing to include crimes not even conceived a few decades prior,” DeLoach said. “Add to the fact that this bachelor’s degree is available in our community shows the enduring, strong partnerships we have with our educational colleagues.”

According to St. Johns County Sheriff Rob Hardwick, intelligence-driven law enforcement is critical in modern policing. “The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office has embraced this with our Real Time Intelligence Center, and we are proud of our continued partnership with St. Johns River State College,” Hardwick said. “The new bachelor’s degree in applied intelligence studies is a great opportunity for our agency and our community.”

Clay County Sheriff Michelle Cook said the new degree program will help prepare future law enforcement leaders as they navigate vital information and keep their communities safe. “Today’s world is inundated with information. Having professionals who are educated in identifying and prioritizing information of value is crucial to the success of a law enforcement agency,” Cook said.

The bachelor’s degree program will be offered online. College credits toward this degree may be awarded to certified law enforcement officers who completed the Basic Law Enforcement program at a Florida criminal justice academy.

The program is pending approval by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

This article originally appeared here.

St. Johns River State College

has campuses in Orange Park, Palatka, and St. Augustine, Florida.