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NJ high schools could offer pathways to careers in criminal justice

TRENTON — Lawmakers want to create a pilot program that would allow school districts to partner with county colleges to create criminal justice career academy programs.

The program would give high school students the chance to earn college credit and access hands-on learning experiences in criminal justice and law enforcement.

Debbie Bradley of the Association of Principal Supervisors of New Jersey said her group was excited about the bill. Recently, the association participated in a focus group conducted by the dual registration study commission that its legislation established.

They talk about dual enrollment and early college programs and the kinds of challenges districts face in establishing those programs, the cost of the programs, and the kinds of innovative programs going on in the state, she said.

A school district wishing to participate in the pilot program will need to submit an application to the Commissioner of Education. The application must include a detailed plan outlining the courses that will be taken by the student participating in the criminal justice career academy.

It must also detail existing partnerships with county colleges to offer college-level courses in criminal justice to academy students or to provide college credit. Details of any partnerships formed with local law enforcement agencies or community organizations should also be included, along with a description of the practical student learning experiences that will be incorporated into the course.

Upon completion of the pilot program, a plan must also be submitted for the continuation of the career academy.

Bradley had two recommendations regarding the bill.

The first is to consider expanding this program beyond the community college level to allow four-year institutions to potentially participate, as they can offer helpful criminal justice programs to students.

Second, the bill uses the term “early university”. But she suggested adding the term “dual enrollment” because dual enrollment programs may be offered in the high school itself.

“The bill talks about things like internships. If we’re talking about law enforcement internships, there may be issues with students actually going into the field with a law enforcement officer. “Bradley said.

She noted that secondary schools are currently addressing this issue through dual enrollment programs by having school resource officers (SROs) and other law enforcement officers who work in schools do simulations on the high school campus, in order to continue to provide these opportunities to students who may not be. available if it means working directly in a police station.

After reviewing submitted nominations, the commissioner may select at least one school district in each New Jersey county that has at least one municipality with a resident population of more than 75,000.

The bill introduced by the State Sens. Sandra B. Cunningham, D-Hudson, and Nellie Pou, D-Bergen,
is considered by the Senate Committee on Budget and Appropriations.

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