A close-up with Dr. James Ford, College of Saint Elizabeth: Educating our Police and Military Veterans
By Michael Boll & Caroline Angel, Ph.D., RN
No matter what age you are, when the calendar hits September and the sight of children carrying their backpacks as they board yellow buses flooding local neighborhoods, there’s only one thing on the minds of our communities: it’s back to school! Whether you have children of your own who are heading off into polished classrooms or it has been a long time since you have sat in any principal led assembly, the fall is a good time to start thinking about education, especially your own.
In the State of New Jersey, to become a law enforcement officer one must at a minimum, have a high school education or GED and college experience to become a NJ State Trooper. One individual who has done amazing things to advance the educational development of police and those who have served in the military is Dr. James (Jim) Ford. Dr. Ford is currently an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice and the Director of the Graduate Program in Justice Administration and Public Service at the College of Saint Elizabeth. Dr. Ford began his law enforcement career in 1976 with the Chatham Township Police Department in Morris County. Over his career, he served in the patrol, investigative, and administrative divisions.
We recently had the opportunity to ask Dr. Ford a few questions about why he wants to see police and veterans further their education, and how the College of Saint Elizabeth can be part of that.
Here is what he had to say:
Why do you want to see police officers further their education?
Dr. Ford: I think it’s important for police officers, especially in the 21st Century, to be more educated than before. I started teaching criminal justice at the College of Saint Elizabeth when I retired from the Chatham Township Police Department. During my tenure at the college, I have been able to reach out to law enforcement and criminal justice professionals and encourage them to further their education. It’s important for the officers to be well prepared in dealing with a diverse community, especially when facing community challenges on a daily basis. I have discovered that more police officers today have their bachelor’s degree and are interested in earning their master’s degree. Earning their master’s degree helps them with advancement in rank, potential raises and will fully understand today’s social, ethical, and political cultures.
What goals do you have at the college and with your program?
First and foremost, the College of Saint Elizabeth is law enforcement and veteran friendly. Our college offers a straightforward pragmatic approach to helping active and retired military personnel and their eligible family members obtain their college education. How do we do this?
• We actively participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program, providing additional tuition benefits for military and their families.
• CSE has been selected as a top school for 2016 by the Military Advances Education and Transition Guide.
• A personal evaluation of past academic endeavors and work experience to determine the most efficient way to further your education. CSE is also an active member of the Concurrent Admissions Program, also known as ConAP.
• Credit for past education and life experience through Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) program, College Level Examination Program (CLEP), and the American Council on Education (ACE).
• On-site financial assistance evaluation and explanation of the GI Bill Benefits for you and your family.
• Personal attention by our admission counselors, who can be reached at 973-290-4700
I have personally worked with veterans and have reviewed their military training through the ACE process and have awarded these individuals college credits.
Full-time sworn law enforcement officers are eligible for a 25% tuition discount for their bachelor’s degree and a 50% tuition discount for their master’s degree. Our bachelor’s degree can be completed online depending on the number of transfer credits. Our highly rated and very successful master’s program is fully online and consists of 30 credits and does not require a thesis. There is a Capstone Seminar at the end of the program. We also offer a combined degree program whereby the student has to have at least 72 credits and can enroll in our combined degree program where they can register for up to 12 graduate credits at our undergraduate rate.
Lastly, CSE will award college credit for sworn law enforcement officers who have completed the basic police academy. Some colleges and universities offer the same services, but the student has to pay for it to be reviewed; however, we don’t charge for this service. There is also some in-service training that is eligible to receive college credit such as MOI (Methods of Instruction), EMT, Crash I and II, and for Certified Public Managers, which is just a few examples.
What do you think about Operation Rebound?
At first, I wasn’t sure if I could help out because I thought only veterans were members. I soon found out that Operation Rebound is a program that helps provide mental and physical strengthening to our veterans, military personnel, and first responders with permanent physical injuries and mental stresses. Utilizing sports and fitness opportunities will assist them to reintegrate back into society. It’s basically a program that empowers and is very successful.
I had never participated in a 5K run/walk event, but last fall was the first time, and the event was held on the Campus of the College of Saint Elizabeth. I knew I was not in shape to do the run, but I supported the effort and veterans by doing the walk and was joined by my son Brian who completed the run. It felt wonderful to take part in the event and to contribute to such a meaningful cause. I may not participate in every event, but I do support every event that they hold.
To answer why I want to see police and veterans further their education is simple for me. I enjoy teaching and helping them by empowering them to do better for themselves.