New Program Forges Pathway from Police Academy to Eastern

Manchester Police Officer Danielle Hebert ’20 is among the first Eastern students to articulate her law enforcement training into college credit.

Written by Jordan Corey

New this fall semester, graduates of the Connecticut Police Academy may now enroll at Eastern Connecticut State University with 12 credits applied toward a criminology degree or other major. Credits are granted for academy training.

“Eastern is an institution that recognizes there are experiential learning opportunities outside of a traditional university classroom through which students may gain college-level learning,” said June Dunn, assistant dean of the Office of Continuing Studies and Enhanced Learning.

“Connecticut Police Academy graduates will have 12 criminology credits automatically applied to their transcripts when they matriculate at Eastern,” she continued. “This is a semester’s worth of credits directly applicable to the criminology major should the student wish to pursue that plan of study – or applicable to fulfilling general education or elective credits for other majors. With a full semester’s credits, students save time and money toward completing their degrees.”

The credit value for training completion was determined by Professor Theresa Severance, director of Eastern’s criminology program. “I tried to balance what’s relevant and appropriate in the context of our major with the skills and knowledge officers received through their academy training, in addition to what they’ve learned on the job,” said Severance.

Danielle Hebert ’20, a Manchester police officer, is one student who has seized this opportunity following her law enforcement training. “I currently have an associate’s degree in business, so switching my focus to criminology would have extended the time it takes to obtain my bachelor’s degree,” she said. “Because of the program, it should only take me one and a half years to finish.”

Chief Roberto Rosado of the Willimantic Police Department, who graduated from Eastern in 2016, has also found value in traditional education to compliment his insight as an officer. “My personal life was challenged with a full-time job, family and my goal to obtain a bachelor’s degree from Eastern,” he said. “Britt Rothauser and June Dunn of the Office of Continuing Studies and Enhanced Learning helped me out tremendously with selecting courses and transferring credits from the Police Academy, FBI Academy and other colleges to help me graduate.”

Willimantic Police Chief Roberto Rosado ’16 is an Eastern graduate who encourages his officers to expand their expertise with a bachelor’s degree.

Rosado has worked to expand this impact beyond his individual benefit, encouraging his fellow officers to pursue their education as well. He arranged for Rothauser to visit police headquarters and present an overview of how officers can enroll at Eastern with previously earned credits and experience.

“It was at that point that the officers asked about whether they could get credit for their police academy training,” said Dunn. “I then presented the idea to Dr. Severance, who articulated their training into criminology credits.” According to Rosado, many of the officers have begun seriously looking into it.

Severance noted, “Many students are interested in law enforcement, so having police officers as fellow students provides them with contacts and insight into the process.”

“I’ve noticed that I’m able to give a different perspective to the discussions in the classroom based on my experience,” said Hebert. “My time in the academy and my time as a police officer has given me knowledge of criminal statutes along with how the criminal justice system is formatted, which has helped me in my classes so far.”

Chief Rosado points out the importance of education within the realm of law enforcement. “Having highly educated officers adds credibility to an agency, reduces liability and overall improves effectiveness by building communication and critical thinking skills. It helps to ensure more well-rounded officers on the street delivering quality service to a very diverse community.”

Severance concluded, “I hope departments and officers in the area will find this program beneficial. While some police departments offer tuition reimbursement, completing a four-year degree while working a demanding, full-time job is obviously a challenge. Eastern has the only criminology bachelor’s program in this region of the state, so I anticipate this will appeal to nearby officers seeking to further their education.”

Academy graduates who matriculated prior to this fall should contact the Office of Continuing Studies and Enhanced Learning at 860-465-0206 or rothauserb@easternct.edu for assistance with getting credits for their training applied to their transcripts. For those interested in becoming future students, winter session classes start at the end of December.