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Duncan Police Chief Speaks At Cameron University

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LAWTON Okla_ Duncan Police Chief Danny Ford said working in law enforcement these days requires a lot more education than when he started out 37 years ago.

Chief Ford delivered that message Monday to a room full of students and staff in Cameron University's Criminal Justice and Sociology Department. He was invited as part of a year-long speaker series involving law enforcement professionals. The program began last November, with Lawton Police Chief James Smith as the first guest speaker.

Chief Ford said when he started in law enforcement in 1975, he didn't need a degree. Things have changed, though. These days, officers moving up in rank have their Bachelors or Masters Degree in Criminal Justice. As a former CU assistant professor in the Criminal Justice Department and currently part-time teacher, Ford said he sees it most needed in law enforcement.

"A college degree doesn't make you any smarter," Ford said, "And everybody goes, ‘Uh-oh. I paid a lot of money for nothing.' A college degree gives you a bigger library to draw on. A college degree gives you the ability to problem-solve."

Chief Ford said that's true especially when dealing with the law, bad guys and the cyber world these days.

"Social networking has just gone bonkers," Ford said. "It's a very good system. The problem with the system is somebody is going to misuse it."

He said these future law enforcement officers need know what to do when defining the laws dealing with the Internet.

"They've got to understand the liability factor is directly connected to a person's ability to solve problems and solve them in a reasonable manner," Ford said.

CU Criminal Justice major Darlene Holle plans to work with the National Forest Service to protect state parks and keep people from endangering animals. She said Chief Ford is right: Knowing exactly what laws exist in their law enforcement careers is vital.

"It's really important that our law officers do have the education," Holle said. "So, when they do arrest somebody for something, they do it the right way; that person can be prosecuted. Some of the law officers aren't trained that well. They make mistakes, and you have a criminal background on the streets because you have a simple mistake."

Both Ford and Holle said the only way to avoid that is to never stop learning.

"People should always strive to be lifelong learners," Holle said. "I learn something new everyday and it keeps your brain fresh."

"Even though you get the degree, that's not  the beginning," Ford said. "That's just the start of a different trail, and as long as they do that, they'll be okay."

Chief Ford said since coming back to work with the Duncan Police Department in 2009 after a 10-year hiatus, he's finally catching up to some of his officers who have shown how much law enforcement education has grown.

The Criminal Justice Department's Speaker Series will continue February 18th with a visit from GEO Lawton Correctional Facility Warden Hector Rios.

 

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