Alumni encourage students to pursue career in law enforcement
On March 5, 2019, Dr. Shelly Stroud ’90, welcomed guest speaker, Illinois State Trooper De’lano Harris-Samuels ’17, to speak about his career experiences with the Illinois State Police. Also in attendance were Trooper Alyssa (Johnson) Bufford ’11, Master Sgt. Tim Davis ’99 and Captain Don Harsy.
Dr. Stroud, associate professor in the Department of Social Work and Criminal Justice oversees a field placement seminar that introduces Olivet students to potential careers in law enforcement, probation, the courts and corrections. Each week in the seminar, students engage with and learn from area professionals.
“By gaining insight and experience from professionals in the field, the students will be able to add to a variety of skill sets and utilize these in their future professions,” she says. “As professors we are able to use these seminars to provide students a chance to learn about a specific topic and become actively engaged in a more approachable way.”
Pursuing a career with the Illinois State Police (ISP) was an easy decision for De’lano. He always had an interest in law enforcement and a penchant for conquering challenges. Founded in 1922, the values that the ISP exist to uphold are integrity, service and pride. The purpose of the ISP is to improve the quality of life for state citizens, safeguard the public and provide leadership opportunities for its employees.
At Olivet, De’lano studied criminal justice, was a four-year athlete on the men’s track and field team – competing in long jump and sprints – and trained with the Roaring Tigers Battalion (Olivet’s ROTC program).
With experience in Army Basic Combat Training, De’lano was fairly prepared to embrace the rigorous physical and mental challenges he met in the Illinois State Police Academy. He says, “It is a difficult road that many people are not willing to take – and to me, that just makes it that much more appealing.”
Modeled with a military structure, the Academy upholds strict discipline standards to ensure uniformity in training and methodology. The admissions process took about a year and included passing a written exam, physical and psychological evaluations, and a final interview with ISP captains and major sergeants.
Once in the Academy, cadets are not permitted to score lower than a 70% on any test. De’lano recognizes that while his military training prepared him for the physical evaluations, his experience as a student at Olivet prepared him for the academic challenges in the Academy.
“I was able to use good note taking skills and study habits that I developed at Olivet in the Academy,” he says. “The work load at Olivet made the book work at the Academy relatively simple.”
After graduating from the Academy and completing 14 weeks of supervised field training, Illinois state troopers are assigned to districts, comprised of three to nine counties, but have jurisdiction throughout the entire state. “I was immediately drawn to the amount of freedom troopers have,” De’lano says. “Having the ability to bounce from county to county and work anywhere, from state routes to the city, makes the job so interesting. It is hard to get bored when you can work in a different city every hour.”
In addition to having a wide jurisdiction, state troopers have the option to pursue a wide range of specializations. Master Sgt. Tim Davis ’99 has been called up to Chicago to assist with crowd control for events such as a visit from former President Obama, NATO summits and the 2016 World Series.
Trooper Alyssa (Johnson) Bufford ’11 worked with the canine unit for 5 years and is now transitioning into investigations. She started at Olivet as an elementary education major, but switched majors after a ride-along with her state trooper sister-in-law. She says of the choice, “I decided to never be bored a day in my life.”
During the field placement seminar, De’lano shared his plans to try out for the ISP SWAT team, further emphasizing the wide range professional opportunities available for qualified criminal justice graduates.
While not every visiting professional to Dr. Stroud’s field placement seminar is an Olivet alumnus, she does try to maintain relationships with graduates of the program by inviting them back to campus. “It is always great when you can see a student who is in the work field exemplifying good ethical values and integrity.”
To learn more about Olivet’s Department of Social Work and Criminal Justice and other areas of study, contact the Office of Admissions at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-648-1463.
Photos submitted & used with permission.