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Law Enforcement, Military Look for New Recruits at Career Fair

The mass of police and military officers drew some curious stares from students passing through the Webb University Center. But the enlisted men and women weren't responding to a crisis, rather they were offering some good news in a tough job market for students. They're hiring.

About three dozen police departments, justice departments and military divisions participated in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice's 6th annual career fair on Wednesday, Jan. 28. Their uniformed presence in the student center drew not only sociology and criminal justice students, but also students from just about every faculty.

Associate Professor Melvina Sumter says her criminal justice students benefit from knowing their studies could turn into real positions. "It helps our students, having knowledge that there are going to be jobs available," she said. "They're ready to use their degrees."

But students from other departments, like junior biology major Alexis Laryea from Chester, PA, also visited a number of the booths.

"I'm just glad there are opportunities to get a job right now," Laryea said. "I just talked to the FBI. They're hiring 800 people this year. That's awesome, and unexpected to me."

Laryea hasn't grown up wanting to be a police officer, but is interested in applying her biology degree to a possible degree in law enforcement, perhaps in forensics. She spoke with Officer Jennifer Pond of the City of Suffolk Police Department.

Pond said she was impressed with the quality of the inquiries she received from the students. "They asked specific questions about the benefits, and the opportunities for training and career advancement that we offer," said Pond. "Each of them seems to have interests unique to them."

The Suffolk Police Department is rapidly expanding from its current 180 members, to meet the region's rapid population growth, Pond said.

"We get applications from Rutgers graduates, from university grads from Pennsylvania. They say there are no jobs up there right now. I think the kids here don't realize how good we've got it," she said. "Our growth is going to pick up right off the other side of these economic times."

The event was co-sponsored by the National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice (NABCJ).

Calisa Farmer - this year's NABCJ president at ODU, as well as an administrative assistant in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice - says the students graduating now are being bombarded with bad economic news.

The career fair "will have a great impact. The students, at least, will know there's a possibility of a great career out there in these fields," Farmer said.

NABJC is as a non-profit, non-partisan association of criminal justice professionals, dedicated to improving the administration of justice in the United States.

Farmer hopes that the career fair will attract students from her department to enter the justice field, "because they learn so much about the background of what goes into criminal justice, how it can do more than just lock people up. It can help teach social skills and get people out of the cycle of crime," she said.

Whatever their reasons for entering the profession, the representatives of the various police departments and military divisions at the career fair enthusiastically sold their department as a great place to work.

"Students should look at the Henrico County Division of Police if they want a career that's challenging and rewarding. Every day is different," said Officer Renaldo Arjona, the county's recruiter.

"I will guarantee they will not get bored."

This article was posted on: January 29, 2009

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