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JCHS criminal justice classes get hands-on experience

Emily Harrison’s criminal justice class at JCHS with Officers Gladden and Murphy. Harrison had the officers demonstrate best practices for traffic stops with her students on November 8 at JCHS. Photos by Beth Cox

By Beth Cox
Freelance Writer

JCHS’s Criminal Justice teacher, Emily Harrison, gave her upper-level criminal justice students a small glimpse of life as a police officer earlier this month.
Harrison asked local school resource officers and deputies Mark Gladden and Michael Murphy to shed light on the scope of their jobs utilizing a hands-on workshop in class.
Harrison was excited that she and her students were able to understand a different perspective on criminal justice.
“My background is not law enforcement, but more on the legal side of things since I went to law school, so I’m learning right there with the students when it comes to police procedures,” Harrison said.
Gladden and Murphy’s years of experience helped students know all the details of police work.
The students enjoyed listening to the officers, but when Gladden told them they were going to observe an actual traffic stop and possible arrest, the class reached a new level of enthusiasm. Never fear, the officers did not take high school students and troll Johnson County for potential traffic violators; better yet, they used students to be both police officers and lawbreakers.
Officer Gladden and Murphy did a great job allowing the criminal justice students to participate in “hands-on” activities.
The SRO’s discussed how to approach a vehicle, what to look for at a stop, and showed the best practices for arresting someone. In the end, the students were able to take turns being on both sides of the law.
Harrison’s students not only had the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the life of a police officer but to have a more positive experience with the SROs. Harrison hoped the non-threatening environment helped build relationships with the students and the officers,” Unfortunately, a lot of students only interact with officers when something tragic has happened, so this class exercise was a great
way to learn but also build that bridge of communication.”
Harrison will be taking her upper-level criminal justice classes to the annual forensic competition this Friday at TCAT in Elizabethton. The students will be competing in several law enforcement competitions, so having Gladden and Murphy’s police insight will help Johnson County be stronger competitors.
The SRO’s serve three primary purposes; educator, mentor, and law enforcement, officer. Naturally, the SRO’s first responsibility is security and safety, but additionally, to establish a working relationship with school and students, assist students in conflict resolutions, and to be a positive role model.