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Criminal Justice Students Get Real-Life Knowledge

February 26, 2013 by admin

By Joe Malanaphy

     Criminal Justice Professor Barbara Gonos invited NJ State Police Detective Edward Rufolo to address her Feb. 13 Criminal Law class.
     Outside of his professional duties, Detective Rufolo has developed a guide to assist officers in preparing criminal complaints.Students from Gonos’ class  most interested in law enforcement careers - learned the importance of writing accurate reports. 
     Rufolo also shared the value of a varied academic back  ground additional to their criminal justice courses that will enhance students’ future career opportunities.
     Barbara Gonos, a criminal justice professor at BCC, recently invited New Jersey State Police Detective Edward Rufulo to speak to her students on Feb. 13. Gonos talked about the value of having guests like Detective Rufolo speak to her classes.
     “As you may know, the Criminal Justice Program at BCC is a "career program."  Most CRJU majors would like to pursue careers in law enforcement, and a good number of our students will become NJ police officers, or in some cases, NJ State Troopers,” said Gonos.     “In fact, some of our students are presently police officers, and many are, or will be, Class I or II SLEOs (Special Law Enforcement Officers,) State Troopers, police officers, and SLEOs, often are involved in the preparation of a "criminal complaint," a document that is filed with the court initiating a criminal case, which details both the criminal charges, and the facts forming the basis for those charges,” Gonos said.
     “As a former municipal prosecutor, myself, I can attest to the fact that, for various reasons, such as lack of good writing skills, or lack of detailed education and training, such complaints are often faulty,” she said.  
     “Detective Edward Rufolo, outside of his official duties, has developed software, already being used by some law enforcement agencies, and likely to be adopted by many more, that easily allows the officer to prepare an almost flawless criminal complaint.  I thought it important, therefore, to expose my students to this "cutting edge software," as one more experience they could add to their resumes/portfolios,” said Gonos.
     “Further, at least one student in the class, presently working for a law enforcement agency, is going to bring the software to the attention of that agency, which would be most impressive to the agency, and speaks well for that student in career advancement. In bringing this program to my students, I am no different than any of our professors in the criminal justice department, most of whom have served long careers in law enforcement, and all of whom prepare students for the real world of law enforcement.”
     Asked whether having these programs and special guests gives her students added motivation Gonos said “Absolutely! First and foremost, it reinforces that what they learn in the classroom is not for the purpose of passing a test; it's for the purpose of expanding their qualifications/resumes/portfolios toward achieving their career goals, which are born out of a passion for law enforcement,” Gonos said.
     “Further, it never ceases to amuse me that I can tell a class something as a professor,that is very important to their career, but it's not until someone from the ‘real world' comes in and says the same thing, that students begin to believe me.  I don't have a problem with that, and I see it as an opportunity for me, too, to make sure what I teach is accurate and relevant to their future careers,” Gonos said.
“I believe that students took away from the program just a little more confidence in themselves, that they now have this specialized knowledge that is just beginning to become known more widely in the law enforcement profession.  Pride and confidence in oneself, is an important aspect of career success. Yet we know that it may be a special challenge to this generation of students,” Gonos said.
     Gonos added, “I'd also like to mention, especially because this is Black History Month, that, although not Black, and not a law enforcement officer, I am a dedicated member of 
NOBLE, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, Central JerseyChapter, which was formed last spring, and that we are planning, in addition to other BCC-related activities, a "Law Enforcement Job Fair" (open to all) at Brookdale in May.”
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