JOHNSON CITY – When it comes to how many hands-on learning opportunities exist for East Tennessee State University students, Isaiah Bishop has a straightforward view.
“If college for you is just purely lectures and classes, I believe that is your decision,” he said. “There are plenty of opportunities that ETSU gives you in terms of going out and getting experience and making connections to further your career before you even step into the workforce.”
Bishop would know.
A senior in the university’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, he has spent the summer alongside officers with the Johnson City Police Department.
He’s been in the cruiser when officers responded to 911 calls. He’s been present with law enforcement while they work vehicle crashes. He’s watched as they file official reports, learning how to upload important documents into the department’s system.
The partnership is an important one for both ETSU and the Johnson City Police.
“This gives students a head start on getting some hands-on experience,” said Corey McKinney, one of the officers who has supervised Bishop. “If we can host students like Isaiah, keep them interested in law enforcement and show them how we do things at the Johnson City Police Department, that’s beneficial to both.”
Hands-on learning in the community is at the center of ETSU’s approach to education, which aims to help students move seamlessly from enrollment to employment. For ETSU’s criminal justice and criminology program, that means 200-400 hours of field experience. Offered during the summer, seniors complete work hours with an array of agencies, including police departments, juvenile courts, private security agencies and prosecuting attorney offices at the local, state and federal levels.
“Field experience is the critical link between the classroom and the real world,” said Dr. Larry Miller, the department chair who has worked as a police officer, criminal investigator and crime laboratory director.
A board member of the National Forensic Academy, Miller has co-authored seven textbooks and written many articles in criminal justice publications.
“Receiving this type of real-life training is so important for our students, and we are proud that we can help facilitate that here at ETSU,” he said.
Bishop, set to graduate in December, plans to apply to become a police officer.
“My goal is to get my foot in the door and be the best police officer I can be,” he said. “ETSU has helped me do that.”
For more information, visit etsu.edu/edge.