February 9, 2012
Cowley College Student Patrol gaining unique learning opportunity
The Cowley College Student Patrol consists of students that have declared a major in Criminal Justice and are enrolled in either Criminal Justice Topics I or II or Criminal Justice Internship I and II. These courses are a requirement for an AAS degree from Cowley in Criminal Justice and are available as electives to students earning an Associate of Arts degree in Criminal Justice as well.
The primary focus of Student Patrol is education through experience.
Cowley College has an excellent working relationship with the Arkansas City Police Department. Through this relationship the school has managed to create a unique learning opportunity for the students. In addition to their class room lessons, the students enrolled in Criminal Justice Topics I and II are required to patrol both the downtown business district of Arkansas City and the Cowley College Campus every night of the semester. Students progressing from Topics I and II to Criminal Justice Internship I and II are required to complete their class studies and fulfill a mandatory number of hours as ride along with actual law enforcement agencies to complete the course.
Students participating in the Student Patrol program are doing so both as a requirement and out of a desire to help the community by learning about their chosen profession. They are not certified law enforcement officers nor are they considered professional security. They are students in a unique position. They do not have any more enforcement powers than any regular citizen but they are working closely with both Arkansas City Police Department and Cowley College security and through this experience become exposed to an idea of what the life of an officer entails.
The duties of a Student Patrol officer include, patrol of education and athletic related campus buildings, patrol of the Arkansas City business district, observation, and assistance with any area requested. Their primary duty is to check the doors and windows of all buildings to make sure they are secured to help prevent theft. As an example, they routinely found unlocked doors on the Hafner Center when it was under construction. Securing the center potentially saved the loss of valuable tools and building materials which are currently a popular item for theft. They are also instructed to watch for any suspicious activities. They are not to search buildings without officers present or take enforcement action but to report unusual circumstances to Arkansas City Police Department or Campus Security depending on their location. They are then permitted to do what the responding officer is comfortable with allowing them to do.
Student Patrol Officers patrol in a fully equipped patrol vehicle that has been authorized by Arkansas City Police Department. They patrol in official uniforms and are equipped with radios equipped with frequencies for all local agencies. Student Patrol Officers do not write citations, make arrests, or make traffic stops.
Student Patrol officers serve with the Arkansas City Police Department on three major community events throughout the year. They assist the Arkansas City Police Department by providing them with extra personnel that the local department needs for larger events like the Arkalalah festivities every year. During these events the Student Patrol are actually given the ability to enforce traffic regulations the same as officers would for the safety of the community. They cannot issue citations but officers can based on student observations. This can be a real eye opener for students when they see that people often do not listen or pay attention to what they are told. They also assist the Arkansas City Police Department with training activities and simulations.
Throughout the semester the Student Patrol are graded on how they respond to mock calls that are given by the instructor. So at some point while they are on patrol they will be given a call and are evaluated on how professionally they respond to and take the call. The call can come at any time and they have to be prepared based on what they have learned and discussed in class. The mock calls are designed to have them combine classroom instruction with real world skills. The mock calls also help them develop critical thinking and deductive reasoning skills.
Student Patrol officers have a variety of in class learning activities. They learn police procedure and protocols. They become fluent in the police 10-codes and alpha codes. They achieve national certification in Taser and ASP expandable baton. They study the proper ways to conduct low risk and high risk traffic stops. They have a unit of self defense, learn about the dangers of drugs and meth labs and learn how to detect and process DUI offenders. They learn about the psychology of being in law enforcement and the needs to have hobbies and interests outside of their career. They are also required to complete a physical fitness program called the 100 mile trek every semester they are in the program.
Between the freshman and sophomore classes there are currently 19 students that are part of the Student Patrol program. Although they are students, they are given some extraordinary learning opportunities through the program. These opportunities can be both positive or negative but they are always educational. On the positive side they get patrol experience and interact with actual officers doing the job that they themselves are striving for.
On the negative side they learn about just how thankless the profession can be. They see how hard work can go unnoticed. They often get yelled at or ridiculed as they patrol. This ridicule comes from citizens, students and others around the area. They are often called names while on foot patrol on Summit Street. They are taught to be professional and overlook these incidents just as professional officers should. It is good in the fact that it toughens them up but it is also sad they have to endure it. They really are dedicated to what they do.
Student Patrol Officers are tasked with being an extra set of eyes and ears to help protect Cowley College campus and the businesses of Arkansas City but they bear no extra enforcement powers. They are volunteers. They are students that are dedicated to learning through hands on experience. If you see them please say hi and thank them for the service they provide.
Those interested in Cowley College’s Criminal Justice Program or becoming a Student Patrol Officer, should contact Frank Owens at 620-441-5285.