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Unlocking Futures: The Expansive Horizons of a Student Criminal Justice Class

Unlocking Futures: The Expansive Horizons of a Student Criminal Justice Class

Criminal justice inspires scores of TV shows, but it is - in real life - a promising career field for young people interested in anything from law enforcement to emergency dispatch communications - and many options in between.

Mt. Vernon HIgh School senior Becca Anderson is using the knowledge gained from her two criminal justice courses as a springboard to the Army, where she plans to combine her love of dogs and criminal justice to train for a K-9 unit. She said the classes, taught by Leroy Striker, have taught her to stay calm in what otherwise could become heated situations. That, she said, is a trait that will serve her well in law enforcement.


Hanna Walton, also a Mt. Vernon senior, enrolled in criminal justice courses with the idea of becoming a crime scene investigator. She shifted her objective when she learned about jail navigators – social workers in corrections facilities.

“You have to have thick skin. You’re going to work with people who don’t like you,” Hanna said of her career aspirations. “But the work appeals to me because I want to help these people; I see them as humans. I want to help lower the recidivism rate.”

Hanna has charted a career path that starts with ROTC followed by Military Police work and eventually becoming a jail navigator. “I learned about the navigator role through Mr. Striker’s class,” she said. “I want people to succeed; I don’t like seeing people fail. Even if it is at a later point in someone’s life, I want them to get better and get help.”

Striker, a former Indiana State Police trooper and Wabash County sheriff, invites guest speakers from a wide range of criminal justice-related careers and strives to make students aware of the full spectrum of options. 

“This course is not about making students police officers,” he said. “It’s about providing a program for students to learn about all professions in the criminal justice field. Students learn quickly what the job requirements are for most professions. They gain direction and a pathway plan to attain their chosen career.”


That approach has resonated with New Palestine High school senior Isabelle (Izzy) Napier,  who calls Striker “easily the best teacher I’ve ever had because he not only explains the material in a fun and educational way, he is a huge inspiration for me and what kind of life I plan to live down the road.” What Izzy plans is a career in criminal profiling after attending West Virginia University.

In addition to learning about potential careers, Mt. Vernon’s criminal justice students can earn up to 12 dual-credits in cooperation with Vincennes University and are able to earn several certifications, including Jail Officer Certification and Emergency Telecommunication Course Certification.

The wide range of potential careers includes law enforcement officer, jail officer, corrections, probation and parole, public safety, dispatch and communications, legal services, emergency management, Homeland Security, private investigations, private security or paralegal services. According to Indiana’s Next Level Programs of Study, several of these are forecast to offer significant job growth in the next few years, as high as 19 percent for paralegals and legal assistants and up to 9 percent growth for emergency dispatchers.

The criminal justice classes are among several CTE courses that will be moving to the Hancock County Career Center when it is completed and opens two years from now.

For Hancock County students interested in registering for these CTE classes in the 2024-25 school year, a list providing what classes and which school they are held at can be found at: