Author Kevin Duffy is a Professor of Criminal Justice at Daytona State College, in charge of the Criminal Justice Associates Degree program there. This blog was written for his criminal justice online students, and it is appropriate to share here, too, with a couple of modifications. Enjoy!
Adjunct Professor Justin Kilker of Daytona Beach Police Department was in my office yesterday talking about all the changes that have happened in the last few years to some of the major agencies in Volusia County, particularly with a new Sheriff at Volusia County Sheriff’s Office and a new Chief at Daytona Beach Police Department. Some employees are happy about these changes, some, well – not so much. Then Professor Kilker came up with this bit of wisdom:
“There are two things that cops hate…change, and the way things are.”
While very true, this quote is not exclusive of police officers or even law enforcement agencies. It is the same for all of us. We don’t like change, but we complain about how things are, wanting change. So how does this apply to you?
Most people are in college for some grand purpose – to encourage change of some description. A new or better career, promotion at work, a new direction in life – all reasons for going to school. We are not only encouraging change, but we are working hard to make it happen. College is a means to an end, a way to get to the goal, whatever it is. As a young police officer with ten years experience, I reentered college when I decided that training and education in law enforcement was the way that I wanted to go with my career. I went to the University of Central Florida for a bachelor’s degree in Technical/Vocational Education followed by a master’s degree in Instructional Technology, again followed by doctorate-level studies in criminal justice. All of this was pointed to a goal to be the best training and education cop that I could be.
A funny thing happened on the way to my goal, though. I learned not only the training and education stuff, but I learned a lot more, and those lessons are with me to this day. Here are a few.
- I learned how to write papers that were clearly written, fully referenced and expressed my ideas to whomever would read them. This is a handy skill that helped me immensely when I wanted to forward an idea to my superiors in both police departments and educational institutions.
- I learned how to plan projects so that they would actually get done, completely and on time.
- I learned how to be accountable for my actions, both good and bad.
- I learned how to research, and how to tell good reference sources from bad ones. If a lot of folks from diverse populations agree, it may be worth considering.
- I learned how to conduct my own research and how to tell when research or studies were not done well. (For example, a recent study came out that said that sugary soft drinks were not as bad for you as previously thought. The study was commissioned and paid for by the Coca Cola Company.)
- I learned that my opinion was sometimes clouded by my own misinterpretation, my own misinformation, or by my own arrogance. Subsequently, I learned that my opinion can change based on new, better, more complete information, and I learned not to be so arrogant. (For example, my opinion on the death penalty has changed in the past ten years. A strong supporter in the past, I now understand both sides of the argument, and I have a much softer opinion these days.)
- In addition, I learned that others’ opinions can be very valid, especially when backed up by facts – even if those opinions don’t match my own.
- I learned that everyone is entitled to their viewpoint and opinion, and as long as no one gets hurt, it’s nothing for me to worry about.
- I learned that most people are passionate about certain things, and understanding their viewpoint is as important as expressing my own. And it doesn’t mean that they are stupid.
- And, even though I had heard it before, I learned that the more you know, the more you realize how little you know. This is very true. I know less today than I did when I was in high school, before all this college stuff.
Change is inevitable. Embrace it, learn from it, and help it along. Yes, it can be a bit intimidating and even scary. But it is going to happen, with you or without you. Make the most of it.