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Opportunities abound in criminal justice program

BLOOMINGDALE — The Jefferson County Joint Vocational School is helping students forge a path for their future, and the criminal justice program offers a wide range of career opportunities in that field.

The program has existed for nearly 20 years at the JVS and current instructor Jamie Freeman said there were many ways students can help protect the community. Careers include corrections and security to forensics while students explore a range of criminal investigations and emergency response to terrorism as part of the curriculum.

Local law enforcement and homeland security professionals also provide training and students have earned certification in boating and defense tactics and completed state certification exams through the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission for private security. Freeman said testing and certification give pupils the tools they need to get ahead of the game.

“We went through the Ohio Department of Corrections’ course and it’s similar to what we do. When students finish and pass the test and are 18 years old, they can apply and start working (in correctional facilities),” she explained.

That program began last year but COVID-19 has prevented students from taking advantage of that opportunity, for now. They can also complete coursework to become federal protection officers that is similar to the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy’s security program. Meanwhile, Freeman said the next session will look at forensics in closer detail.

“Corrections is such a huge field and a great starting point. Employees have great pay and benefits and we want to give (students) an idea of what they can do.”

Seniors Raven Shannon and Alex McAfee said they have learned a lot from the program to help them chart their courses for the future.

“I want to work in corrections, and I’m sure there are many possible jobs to do there and will work my way up,” said Shannon, noting that she has gained a lot of knowledge during her time at JVS.

McAfee, who plans to study criminal behavior at either Kent State or Youngstown State University, will begin her path at EGCC and OPOTA.

She also cited the advantages of getting her education at the JVS.

“It’s definitely a learning experience and there are a lot more opportunities here than you would find anywhere else,” she added. “I’m going to school to study criminal behavior and some sections we study here are on (that subject). I will go to EGCC for two years and the academy and then I will go where life takes me.”

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