CRESTON —The fall 2011 semester brought additional course options for Southwestern Community College students who are interested in fields such as law enforcement, corrections, juvenile justice, security, private investigation, etc.  The college now has an associate of arts transfer plan for criminal justice majors.

With this criminal justice degree plan in place, SWCC is offering the following new courses:  introduction to criminal justice, criminal law, criminology, constitutional law, introduction to computer forensics, and juvenile delinquency.  In addition, the college has sociology and psychology courses in place that will complement the student’s academic plan.  The criminal justice courses will be offered on the Creston campus, as well as the Osceola Center.


Jane Bradley, SWCC associate vice president of instruction, was instrumental in bringing the criminal justice coursework to SWCC’s campus.  “Most often employment opportunities in the criminal justice arena require a four-year degree,” Bradley explained.  “By having these introductory criminal justice classes in their associate of arts degree plans, students will be more prepared when it’s time to transfer."

According to Bradley, SWCC didn’t have to look far to find extremely qualified instructors for the criminal justice courses.  The college is utilizing Tim Kenyon, Union County attorney; Kristian Lehmkuhl, Clarke County magistrate and attorney; Laurie Besco, SWCC director of TRIO-Student Support Services; and Sue Stearns, former juvenile court officer.

As the college was developing a plan to add criminal justice coursework, Bradley and the criminal justice instructors talked to professionals in the field and researched the requirements at four-year institutions.  According to Bradley, transferability was important throughout the planning process.  Bradley said representatives from the University of Northern Iowa, Iowa State, and Simpson College helped tremendously when making decisions about SWCC’s new criminal justice offerings.

SWCC’s criminal justice instructors are excited about what the program will bring to the college’s students.  According to Stearns, who has assisted Bradley with the development of the program, it is an advantage to have instructors with experience in the field, as it is the combination of experience and education that maintain students' interest.  “It just makes sense to study and be exposed to criminal justice education at a community college level, so that more individualized attention is received,” Stearns said.