Los Angeles, Calif. – Seventeen more law enforcement officers attended graduation ceremonies on Thursday, May 27 at the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Training Academy in Whittier. They weren't cadets, but seasoned deputies and officers earning master's degrees in public administration from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department University.
To date, a total of 65 deputies, police officers and probation officers have earned master's degrees in public administration by attending evening classes while off duty. Los Angeles Sheriff Leroy D. Baca has made it as convenient as possible for badge holders to earn college degrees. They don't have to worry about rising tuition, restrictive admissions policies, crowded classes, conflicting schedules, or even trying to find a parking place.
In March 2002 the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department became the nation's first law enforcement agency to form its own corporate university. It partnered with National University to offer on-site degree programs at the Sheriff's Training Academy in Whittier. National University's accelerated one-course-per-month format for working adult learners has been a perfect fit for the Sheriff's Department and various other law enforcement agencies in Los Angeles.
Sheriff Baca represents a growing circle of law enforcement leaders that are dedicated to professionalism within their ranks and see long term benefits to investing in a better-educated sheriff's department.
"I am committed to the notion that a highly educated work force is a necessity in carrying out the vital responsibilities entrusted to us by the public," Sheriff Baca told the first group graduates of the Sheriff's Department University last year.
The 17 graduates at the May 27 event represent the University's third graduating class. Capt. Dale Dye, USMC (ret.) was the commencement speaker. Capt. Dye is one of the entertainment industry's leading military consultants, with credits in major productions such as Born on the Fourth of July, Forest Gump, Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers. He is also the author of five military novels, including Platoon, which was the inspiration for the Academy Award-winning film voted "Best Picture" in 1986. He is currently the second-unit director for Director Oliver Stone's soon-to-be-released film, Alexander.
A recent study by Scott A. Cunningham, Ph.D., chair of the Police Administrative Committee of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, indicates a strong correlation between fewer disciplinary actions and higher educational levels among law enforcement officials. Dr. Cunningham's study revealed that those with only a high school education accounted for almost 75 percent of disciplinary actions, even though they only constituted 57.7 percent of Dr. Cunningham's control group. Conversely, those with a bachelor's degree accounted for only 12 percent of disciplinary actions while constituting 24 percent of the control group.
Providing sheriff's deputies with greater access to higher education is critical to modern crime fighting, according to Maggie Yadegar, associate regional dean for National University's Los Angeles and Sherman Oaks academic centers. "As policing grows more sophisticated, a master's degree is becoming one of our important crime-fighting tools."
National University also enjoys partnerships with the Orange County and Fresno County Sheriff's Departments to educate their deputies and law enforcement officers on site. For more information, please contact David Neville, director of information and community relations, at (858) 642-8163.
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