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Criminal justice students with officers

Criminal Justice students hear from former students, current law enforcemenT

Students in the Metropolitan Community College Criminal Justice program can go on to a variety of careers. However, many often want to go on to become a member of law enforcement. 

During the Introduction to Criminal Justice class on Sept. 30, instructor Diane Sjuts had former students who are now members of various local law enforcement come in and speak to students about their experiences. The officers’ visit coincides with Sjuts’ unit on policing.

Former students included Trooper Daniel Flores of Nebraska State Patrol, Officer Mike Smutney of the Bellevue Police Department, Officer Terrell Long of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Police and Officer Dylan Belter of the Omaha Police Department. 

They officers, all former students of Sjuts’, discussed where they are now, how they got there and what they enjoy.

“I started out at MCC,” Long explained. “Now, I’m an officer at University of Nebraska-Lincoln and I love it. I get to be on the field during football games. During my first game, I looked around and thought ‘OK, this is pretty cool.’”

Belter didn’t think he would become an officer growing up. He said that MCC helped him find his passion.

“I never thought I would become [a cop],” Belter said. “I took a few Criminal Justice classes and I found out I loved it. Now, I work in the Northeast Omaha precinct.”

Sjuts also led a discussion with the officers that covered many hot-button issues in law enforcement, such as body cameras, racism and the portrayal of law enforcement on television. Near the end, she asked the officers to tell the students what they loved about MCC and being a police officer.

“What I found most important at MCC is that the learning isn’t all the textbook. It’s a lot of critical thinking,” said Smutney. “A lot of our job is common sense, but you do need to do critical thinking. Diane stuck with me through it all and I appreciate her.”

Long agreed, saying speaking up in class is also important to help with a career in law enforcement.

“My biggest thing is to participate,” he said. “In this profession, you have to talk to people. Don’t be afraid to raise your hand and speak up.”

Belter said Sjuts’ teaching style is unmatched, as she brought examples to life in class and made learning fun.
“Diane finds a way to get the information across to you,” he said. “She takes you on field trips, she brings in speakers. She has the real world knowledge and she’s passing in on.”

To learn more about the Criminal Justice program at MCC, visit mccneb.edu/criminaljustice.

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