An “absolute armada.”
That’s what Patrick Cook, vice president of administration at Middlesex Community College, called the panoply of law-enforcement agencies and leaders that convened on the Bedford campus last Friday and Saturday.
The occasion was actually a class for about 80 community college students, most of them from Middlesex. The “Public Service Career Exploration Course” was labeled a “conference experience” for the college’s Criminal and Social Justice Department.
Students were asked to consider not only the purpose of the criminal justice field, but also related social justice issues. They also were assigned to prepare a hypothetical career path.
“We revised the entire curriculum in the department and changed the name of the program to the Department of Criminal and Social Justice,” explained Prof. Heloisa DaCunha, one of the faculty organizers of the event.
In each course, she explained, “students explore current social justice issues within the field of criminal justice, the disparities regarding racial equity, the relationship between the community and police, and discuss solutions on how to close disparity gaps in arrest and criminal trial verdicts.”
“We also now include emphasis on social justice and victim/witness services within our class as well as crime prevention strategies through the DEI lens and improving service in public service agencies.”
Saturday morning’s theme was federal law enforcement, with presentations by Brian Kyes, U.S. marshal for Massachusetts, and Sgt. Thomas Daly of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. Students also had opportunities to meet with representatives of the Middlesex Sheriff’s Department.
Keynote speaker in the afternoon was Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan.
Friday’s lineup featured remarks by Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, as well as a presentation by a Middlesex graduate, Christopher Sweeney of the Massachusetts Environmental Police.
There were also demonstrations by units of the Northeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council (NEMLEC), including the motorcycle and canine.
Cook told the students before Ryan’s remarks, “You’ve invested in yourselves by being here. This has been an impressive two days of exposure to and learning about law-enforcement fields.
The college administrator, a former communications director for the Lowell Police Department, said, “You have had an absolute armada of folks” to present employment options, featuring “the two highest law-enforcement officials in the county. This doesn’t happen everywhere.”
He applauded Judith Hogan, dean of the college’s Business, Legal Studies, and Public Service Division, and faculty members Ron Brevard, Heloisa DaCunha, and Ken Lavallee.