Program Spotlight-Criminal Justice
Teacher Spotlight- Stephen Shannon
Programs and Instructors at CPAVTS are ever changing… and on the note, we decided it was time to revisit the Criminal Justice program and see what changes have come about since new Instructor, Mr. Shannon showed up in the picture.
What is the most significant new or different aspect to your program this year?
“We have added an emphasis on health and wellness in the form of a physical fitness program. When our students leave the program, we want them, at a minimum, to be able to successfully complete entry level physical fitness tests at Pennsylvania police academies.”
What are some of the more common career pathways your students take when they leave CPAVTS?
“Traditionally the most common career pathways for our student is in the area of law enforcement, corrections, and service in the military. HOWEVER, I am excited that there are currently such diverse interests amongst student in the program. The Criminal Justice program does not just target students who want to be in law enforcement…in addition to law enforcement, career paths that our current students are interested in pursuing include border patrol, firefighting and fire investigation, animal control, forensics, psychology, drug enforcement, mental health work, nursing, coroner’s office, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and behavior analysts, just to name a few.”
What particular training/unit do employers seek that helps students get their foot in the door?
“Just to list a few: Critical thinking, ability to reason and show good judgement under pressure, integrity, maturity, strong communication skills, strong writing skills, cultural diversity, and strong academics. Our program is different from the other CTE programs in that it focuses entirely on human services. Students must have strong interpersonal skills, be able to relate to diverse groups, be willing to step out of their comfort zone, and most importantly, be servant-leaders.”
What is some of the recent technology and/or trends in the profession, with which students become familiar?
“Increased cybercrime and resulting investigations increase from these types of crimes. Public scrutiny under which offers will be judged, increasing by being video recorded on the job. Body cameras are a valuable tool for public safety officers to increase transparency with the community.”
What unit/topic do student struggle with the most in your program and why do you think that is?
“There are a few areas…Students love being active, so any block of instruction that keeps them in their seat too long can be a struggle. Aside from the technical skills we teach (handcuffing, fingerprinting, crime scene processing), we also emphasize pressure-filled role-playing scenarios that put student’s decision-making and judgement skills to the test.”
Explain a typical day in your program.
“We spend a portion of our day focusing on theoretical concepts, including criminal procedure, criminal law, use of force, police concepts, and report-writing. We balance theoretical work with practical, hands-on work that helps student apply the theory work. Student step into the role of first responders through role-playing activities, making various decisions regarding traffic stops, arrests, searches and other common public safety encounters.”
“A significant part of the day includes service to CPAVTS, in the form of patrolling the campus, coordinating an identification badge system for our staff and students, coordinating our Annual Safety Day Event, providing escorts during special events and having operation responsibilities during our evacuation drills/emergencies.”
What advice would you give student who have completed your program?
“The best public servants are those whose strongest skills include the ability to communicate and make integrity-based judgement calls under pressure. I tell my students-become a strong active listener, work to be sensitive to the needs of others, to the point that you’d be willing to put your live on the line for them, pursue disciplines of higher learning that focus on understanding the human mind, developing excellent writing skills, and work on your ability to communicate with all diverse groups of individuals.”
How many years have you been at CPAVTS?
“I will have completed one year at CPAVTS on November 2, 2018.”
What is your experience before coming to CPAVTS?
“12 years as a Police Officer with Washington Township Police Department (Waynesboro, PA). Part of my duties, aside from general patrol assignments, included work as a Field Training Officer. I did that as a part of the department’s Accident Investigation Team, special assignments to a U.S. Marshals Task Force, and as a member of the South-Central Counter Terrorism Task Force. Prior to being a Police Officer, I was a Truancy Caseworker with Franklin County Children and Youth Services (Chambersburg, PA)”.
Student Spotlight- Clayton (CV, Class of ’19)
Summarize what you learn in your program in one sentence.
“We learn the basics for every aspect of the criminal justice system, from interpersonal professionalism to intrapersonal confidence and knowledge.”
What is the hardest part of your program?
“The hardest part of our program is deciding afterward what part of it you believe you belong to, or are best-suited to do, and how you can use the knowledge of that part to better serve the communities it involves.”
What is the most fun part of your program?
“The most fun part of the program is taking what we learned from it and applying it to our professional lives and using it to teach and improve the future law.”
What is some recent technology you are learning to use in your program that is specific to your profession?
“We are very lucky to be able to train with a wide variety of technologies. This year we were introduced to body cameras. We learn the importance of them, how they are protected from public scrutiny, and how to use them. Today, police are under immense pressure from the public, and the body cameras allow law enforcement an ability to justify their actions.”
What is your plan for after high school?
“My plan is to hopefully gain admission to a college through the NROTC scholarship. After college, I hope to also be offered a commission from the Marines to serve as an officer. I began to explore this opportunity after the Marines came into my shop to show us what the Marine Corp has to offer. This program built a lot of personal skills that make me feel that I am qualified for such a position of responsibility.”
What is going to be the highlight of the year in your program?
“The highlight of the year in my opinion, is going to be each Friday’s physical training, where the entire class comes together and learns competitiveness, leadership, and teamwork. It will also prepare us for the physical and mental demands of a career in law enforcement.”
What are you the most proud of learning in your program?
“I am proud to learn the correct way of being a law enforcement agent while also training with the same tools and technologies authorities work with today.”
Explain a typical day in your program.
“A typical day begins with an instructional period pertaining to the chapter, lesson, or tool we are learning about or using. We then have a period for the seniors to student, go over administrative things, plan for events, and go over senior curriculum.”
How is your program at CPAVTS different from other classes you have had in the past?
“This program is different from any other class sending schools offer. Here we are taught career focused curriculum. We train in practical situations, we all work together as a team, and we have the same vision of being a public servant in some aspect of law enforcement or government. In this program and school, the staff have the complete focus of each student’s success, needs and aspirations. Students not only develop a professional relationship with their peers, but also with their instructors and other members of staff.”
What advice would you give to a beginning Level 1 student who is just starting the program or to a student who is considering enrolling in the program?
“Advice for level one students is to stick with your program and make the most of it, because the times goes so fast. For students considering enrolling, you should be proud of yourself for taking the first steps in building a solid foundation for your future, and know that taking the steps towards a program like this puts you far ahead of your peers. CPAVTS also offers a lot more than just a career focused program, it also allows you to establish a lot of new friendships, industry certifications, personal skills, and opportunities in further education and employment.”