Alumni on the Beat

Lindenwood Online Criminal Justice
Police Academy Partnership Helps LU Students With Law Enforcement Career

Being a police officer is a rewarding and challenging profession that requires intense preparation and rigorous training. Fortunately, Lindenwood University offers students interested in criminal justice the opportunity to fast-track their careers in law enforcement.

Through an arrangement Lindenwood University has with the St. Louis County Police and Municipal Police Academy, students completing their online criminal justice degrees can attend the police academy in Wellston, Mo., while concurrently earning 15 hours of criminal justice credits during their last semester. Participants graduate with both police academy certification and an undergraduate degree.

“The academy reserves seats in their January class, so each fall our students enroll in a seminar class that prepares them for that experience,” said Pernell Witherspoon, PhD, Department Chair of the Criminal Justice Program and 16-year law enforcement veteran. “We do academic and physical training so they’re ready to meet the challenges of the academy’s requirements and, ultimately, the challenges of being a police officer.”

The program has been a rousing success for both parties. Lindenwood graduates are often hired by the county police department or area municipalities after completion of the program each spring, while the law enforcement agency benefits from acquiring fresh and well-prepared recruits. According to Witherspoon, the average rate of Lindenwood students hired after completing the academy is typically around 80 to 90 percent.

In 2012, those expectations were surpassed when all six students who participated in the program during the spring semester were hired as officers by the St. Louis County Police Department.

“It was the first time we’d experienced a 100 percent hiring rate, which is in itself encouraging in today’s job market,” Witherspoon said. “St. Louis County is considered to have one of the top ten police academies in the country and is known for taking the elite from each class. It speaks to the quality of our students and their work ethic that all six cadets were hired.”

Alumnus Patrick Glaser finished at the top of his class in firearms qualifications and also delivered the keynote address at the academy’s graduation ceremony in June 2012. Looking back on the program, Glaser said he was pleased with the preparations he underwent at Lindenwood and felt they made it possible for him to get a head start in his career.

“I chose Lindenwood specifically for its criminal justice program and its relationship with the police academy,” he said. “Not only did my classmates and I receive extra preparation, but we also earned the college credits we needed while going through the academy. This program puts Lindenwood students way ahead of the curve.”