Viewpoint: A shout out for Citrus College’s law enforcement training program
By Laura J. Bollinger | Special to the Courier
In recent years, a shortage of qualified workers has impacted a variety of industries throughout the United States, including law enforcement. With resignation and retirement rates increasing and the number of recruits decreasing, police departments are finding themselves overworked and understaffed.
Although the Claremont Police Department has worked hard to maintain sufficient staffing levels, Chief Aaron Fate says recruitment will continue to be a focus.
“Over the next five years, we will see a lot more changes because there will be several retirements,” he said. “Claremont will need qualified candidates to fill those vacancies.”
The Citrus College Administration of Justice program has been meeting the needs of local law enforcement agencies for nearly 60 years. The program has adopted a theory-based curriculum that brings a variety of experiences and viewpoints to students. Additionally, the program is unique in its emphasis on degree completion and transfer to four-year institutions. The result is graduates who are well-prepared for law enforcement careers.
Much of the success of Citrus’ Administration of Justice program rests with its instructors, staff, and advisors. From law enforcement officers and correctional executives to criminal scientists and prosecuting attorneys, this diverse faculty brings a broad range of experiences to the classroom. The program’s advisory committee also fosters strong connections with local agencies.
“Citrus College has been good about inviting local chiefs to provide input into classes and to share their law enforcement needs,” Chief Fate said. “Not only does this benefit Claremont, it benefits our surrounding communities as well.”
Fate is also a Citrus alumnus. “The college’s quality program prepares people for careers in law enforcement, and the communities receiving these candidates reap the rewards,” he said.
One of the program’s strengths is an online learning option for those with work, family or other responsibilities that may prevent them from attending classes on campus. Students can now complete all requirements for the administration of justice associate degree for transfer, associate in science degree, criminal justice certificate of achievement or correctional science certificate of achievement, solely online.
Remote learning is especially advantageous at a time when more and more police departments are initiating college credit requirements for promotions. Simultaneously, many in the field believe education is the key to improving the criminal justice system. With police reform and accountability at the forefront of public attention, a successful administration of justice program can be extremely valuable.
And there is no denying the Citrus College program is successful. With an average of 300 to 400 students enrolling every semester and graduates working as police chiefs, detectives, captains and more, the program has earned a reputation for excellence, one Chief Fate can personally attest too.
“When I was a student, I found Citrus College to be a campus that was open, welcoming, and easy to navigate,” he said. “I met other students and great instructors who I still communicate with to this day.
“I didn’t come from a law enforcement family, so there wasn’t a push to get into this field. It was Citrus that hooked me.”
As Claremont’s representative on the Citrus Community College District Board of Trustees, I am proud of the role the college’s administration of justice program plays in our communities and hope to build upon the positive relationship Citrus College has with the Claremont Police Department in the days ahead.
Laura J. Bollinger is a member of the Citrus College Governing Board.