NEC Grooms Students for Positions in Law Enforcement

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“What we see are trends [in the need for law enforcement recruits in NH],” former police officer Tim Jones explained.  “It’s like a “rollercoaster, and when it’s a downswing—when there’s fewer—the pool is not so good.  That’s where we are right now. We’re kind of in this dip.”

Tim Jones of Granite State Police Career Counseling, LLC, ran a two-day law enforcement-hiring seminar held in the Lyons Center on Monday, October 31st with mock oral boards on Saturday, November 5th, when several law enforcement agencies visited NEC to interview possible recruits.

Originally from Pensacola FL, Tim Jones, who’s lived in NH since 1995 and worked for Londonderry PD for 18 years and Litchfield PD for two years before that, said that where students have the most trouble with the hiring process is PT tests, oral boards, and background checks.  That’s why he offers this seminar, which prepares students for the application/hiring/testing process required to obtain law enforcement positions.  In attendance at the seminar was Criminal Justice Professor Frank Jones and 17 of his students, including several graduating seniors from the CJ-3210/Contemporary Law Enforcement Class here at NEC.

Inside the textbooks for this course, a whole chapter is dedicated to the hiring process.  This seminar is a feature of the class because it physically prepares students through Engaged Learning in a real-life context.

“They need to go through an intensive hiring process,” said Professor Jones who’s been teaching at NEC for 12 years.  “We have a responsibility to provide the best possible candidate.”

Applicants have to go through a pre-polygraph, a polygraph, and a medical examination that determines physical capabilities, along with extensive background checks, including interviews of neighbors, previous boyfriends/girlfriends, family members, teachers, etc., criminal record/motor vehicle record checks, and psychological exams.  The psychological exam, Tim Jones said, is very similar to a personality test in the way the questions are worded.  It lasts 3-4 hours and features an interview with a psychiatrist.  Sometimes this can make people nervous because they don’t know what to expect.

“I wouldn’t sweat this part,” Tim Jones told students.  “It’s just a long time you have to dedicate for this…  In my opinion—in my philosophy—the key to confidence is preparation and that’s what this [seminar] does.”

Tim Jones knows students will have to put in some work but he provides them insight on where they need to focus priorities.

The mock boards the CJ students participated in featured interviews by Manchester PD, Londonderry PD, and Nottingham PD; after the interviews students received feedback.  Manchester PD is currently searching for recruits because they’re hiring so the boards also offered students who are looking for work an opportunity to connect.

“It’s unfortunate,” Professor Jones told his students prior to the boards, “but I’ve seen students have a meltdown.  Go into this thing with confidence.”

He said he does recommend individuals who aren’t A students but have other positive qualities fitting the career.  But he will not recommend a person he feels isn’t a fit.  Professor Jones, having previously worked in law enforcement, has completed over 1,000 background checks, and warned students to be professional, service-minded, prepared, and to keep in mind that “it’s not uncommon for agency A to call agency B.”

This seminar became a part of the CJ course after Tim Jones, who had known Professor Jones professionally for many years, came to the college and pitched the concept to the Professor.  Tim Jones said he made the same offer to other colleges, but as of yet NEC is the only college to provide this seminar to students.

“My hats off to you,” Tim Jones said, as he concluded the seminar.  “I’ve sat where you’re sitting right now in a CJ course, wanting a job in law enforcement.  If you want to get into it and help people, it’s the job for you.”

He explained that it’s often a thankless, dangerous job, but that it can be extremely rewarding.  Tim Jones said the most challenging aspect for him was “not becoming calloused because you deal with people at their worst and they’re not always nice, so officers can become calloused.”  But he said the most rewarding aspect of it was receiving thanks from the people that he was able to help, which really touched him.

One student from the CJ course, Senior Emily Mecus, said she became interested in a position in Forensics after taking a criminal justice course at NEC.  “Science is fun,” she explained. “I used to be an art major and criminal justice was my minor.”  Mecus feels a job in Forensics would provide a combination of the two because of the involvement of photography.

Another senior at the seminar, Jordyn Zeiba-Peoples, who is currently engaged in the application process with a correctional facility, said she was influenced into the career by family history. “My family’s [full of] police officers, so that definitely inspired,” she said.

Professor Jones is confident the CJ learning program and this seminar does a great job of preparing these students.

“Students that have previously taken this seminar,” he said, “have indicated in their evaluations it helped them a lot…  Our successful alumni that are working out there in the field completed this seminar.”

That’s why Professor Jones said he’s grateful to his division dean, Dr. Walsh, for supporting engaged learning initiatives like this one and he hopes to continue the seminar into the future.

Senior Ty Anderson, who’s one of his students, said of the seminar, “It prepared us a lot for just interviews in life.  The confidence you need, the body language you need.”

“It’s what sets the NEC CJ program apart from others,” concluded Professor Jones. “I don’t think it’s something many other colleges are doing.”

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