Criminal justice program plans expansion

A mock murder crime scene was held by Dan Wood, assistant professor of criminal justice, on campus in February 2020. The purpose of this was to simulate a crime scene and display how much one changes as more investigators visit. There are plans for more activities like this to occur along with future program expansions.
(Photo by Todd Salisbury)

Fully immersed in realistic training scenarios, the MILO Range Simulator offers training in de-escalation to equip police officers with the appropriate skills to tackle any situation.

Dan Wood, assistant professor of criminal justice, visited a MILO Simulator on Jan. 28 to get the full experience of the training program.

Wood said he wants to bring a MILO Simulator to MCCC on the Whitman Center campus in the next year or two as an expansion to the criminal justice program.

President Kojo Quartey said enrollment in the criminal justice program has been growing exponentially and a tool like this could better equip the students with the skills they will need in the future.

Quartey announced the possibility of developing a police academy in addition to the growth of the criminal justice program on Feb. 4 during the “Community Policing” panel with Wood.

Community policing is the concept of establishing a partnership between police officers and the citizens in a community to better the quality of life in that community, Wood said.

Bringing this simulator to Monroe would, in theory, help local police get a better understanding of how to handle situations with which they may not be familiar and help citizens to better understand the decisions officers must make while on the job, Wood said.

Quartey said he believes this is the right direction for the program because he wants to find a way to reunite police and members of the community to better the system.

Wood said he is applying a variety of grants to pay for the MILO system, which ranges from $15,000 to $150,000.

Wood said this project is still in its very early stages, so the ultimate plan for the criminal justice program and the proposed police academy could be completely different by the time development is over.

Currently, the ideal outcome of this expansion of the program is to create a bridge of understanding and transformation between law enforcement and the people of Monroe County, Wood said.

Both Wood and Quartey pointed out problems in the current law enforcement system that they would like to help solve with the future steps of an expanded criminal justice program.

“We have had a loss of mental health [training] in our system, and we really need to help with handling the emotionally disturbed and their mental health,” Wood said.

Quartey said he believes that now is the time to start working alongside law enforcement workers to reinvent policing and improve the system.

“We need to get to the point where none of us are scared to death because we think a police [officer] is going to behave a certain way,” Quartey said.