University assures to examine law enforcement program after George Floyd’s death

Jenna Peterson ® News Editor |
Photo by Mansoor Ahmad ® Photo Editor |

The recent events pertaining to the Black Lives Matter movement has brought up numerous questions for law enforcement programs in colleges, specifically at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

President Richard Davenport sent out an email to students on May 29 to ensure there will be changes within the law enforcement program. He stated the program goes under review every year to make necessary changes in order to allow students to be best prepared for entering their future careers. Other emails sent from the university gave resources, such as the Counseling Center, to help students feel connected during this time.

The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences houses the law enforcement program, which is under the Department of Government. In the past three years, the numbers of graduates from this department have both fallen and risen. In 2018, there were a total of 148 graduates from the department, with higher numbers from the spring semester. Continuing into 2019, there 150 graduates with more graduates in the spring. So far in 2020, there have been 81 graduates from the Department of Government. These numbers show the increasing interest for all things government, ranging from law enforcement to political science to urban and regional studies.

When understanding the importance of education, BBC News looked into the history of each of the four officers charged in the case of George Floyd. They didn’t state any education background for Derek Chauvin, but they did note his service in the U.S. Army, as well as the military police force from September 1996 to February 1997 and once again from September 1999 to May 2000. The complaints made against him while a police officer was also stated.

Thomas Lane was a new member to the force, being only on his fourth day when Floyd died. Lane attended the University of Minnesota where he earned a degree in criminology. His work history consists of being a guard at a juvenile detention center, and no known complaints were made against him in the past. J Alexander Kueng was another new officer, who joined the force in February 2019. He also attended the University of Minnesota and earned a degree in sociology. Tou Thao has been with the Minneapolis Police Department since 2012, and in this time he received at least 11 complaints. For education, he attended North Hennepin Community College to study law enforcement, but never graduated.

Looking further into the law enforcement program at MNSU, the campus website lists the program admission requirements. In order to be admitted into the program and the licensing degree, the department first has to give permission. Once in the program, students must meet the departmental GPA and course prerequisites and POST Board documentation, which are always changed to see fit. There are academic and agility standards and course requirements that students need to pass in order to continue their degree. Like any other major, these students must hold a GPA minimum of 2.6 in the major along with a “C” or higher in their classes.

Kate Bowen, a junior in the law enforcement program at MNSU, explained further what is required from her and her fellow classmates. Core classes for law enforcement include POL111, LAWE131, and nine credit elective courses under LAWE6 that have to be 300-400 level. These all ensure the students are learning on a wider and more in depth spectrum. Before being admitted to the program, the students must take a physical fitness test and a psychological exam to “make sure [the students] won’t engage in racial profiling and won’t be a danger to [themselves] or others”.

They also have to take a range of classes from intro to law enforcement/the criminal justice system to juvenile justice to policing in a diverse society and police stress as well as a human performance class, such as CPR and first aid. In response to the expectations and program changes, Bowen said, “It’s really good to hear the department is doing what they can to make sure the students are in classes that are relevant to today’s society.”

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