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College and high school students hear of employment opportunities in federal law enforcement

College and high school students hear of employment opportunities in federal law enforcement

NORFOLK, Neb. – Professionals who work in federal law enforcement spent the day recently on the Northeast Community College campus in Norfolk to meet with college and high school students from across the state with a focus on employment opportunities that are available in the system.

This was the 14th year that Northeast and the Nebraska Community College Criminal Justice Educator’s Association have sponsored the Career Opportunities and Professions Seminar (COPS).

Approximately 270 students had the opportunity to interact and learn more about occupations from federal criminal justice professionals. Students were divided into small groups and then rotated through the presentations and demonstrations.
Northeast Community College Criminal Justice Instructor Colleen Barnes said the day is designed to educate students on criminal justice professions and explore opportunities that each field provides. 

“The criminal justice departments across Nebraska formed the Nebraska Community College Criminal Justice Association, and we meet monthly to align our criminal justice classes so that we’re all in sync and classes transfer to four-year colleges and universities seamlessly,” Barnes said. “And part of this work is to educate our students about the career paths in criminal justice. We had several federal agencies here to talk about their agencies and to educate the students on how they can get into the field.”

In addition to job opportunities, presenters spoke of day-to-day scenarios they encounter to provide students an in-depth glimpse of what their jobs entail.

Barnes said many students said that the day was very informative and are now thinking of positions they had not seen themselves in previously. She said the work can be stressful, but it is also rewarding.

“We really educate our students that these careers may not be for everyone, but these are jobs that have new experiences every day. You are there to help people and you're trying to make a difference in people’s lives. From law enforcement officers to all the way through to prisons, we want to better these individuals’ lives.”

This year’s COPS event included representatives from Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives (ATF), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Federal Bureau of Prisons, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services.

Matt McCarthy, criminal justice program director/instructor at Northeast, credits Barnes for her work in 
bringing the agencies together to meet with students.

“Colleen does an incredible job organizing this conference every year,” he said. “Whether it is held here or elsewhere, the success of the seminar and the benefit it provides to students is due largely to her work and dedication.”
Northeast criminal justice students were joined by their peers from Central, Metropolitan, Southeast, and Western Nebraska community colleges. High school students from Students from Burwell, Elgin, Madison, Neligh-Oakdale, Niobrara, and Norfolk were also in attendance.

The associate of arts degree in criminal justice at Northeast Community College gives students knowledge to apply their education directly on the job or to continue study toward a four-year degree. The program offers two interdisciplinary concentrations, corrections and law enforcement.


                                                                                                  PHOTO CUTLINE 

Richard Macleod (center) and J.D. Johnston, with the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ FBC facility in Yankton, So. Dak., show community college criminal justice students how contraband is hidden in various items from an electrical outlet box to books during a Career Opportunities and Professions Seminar (COPS) at Northeast Community College recently. The seminar, sponsored by Northeast and the Community College Criminal Justice Educator’s Association, featured representatives from several federal law enforcement agencies who spoke with college and high students on the many career opportunities in the federal system.