As long as human beings inhabit the earth, society will face the daunting challenge of dealing with criminal behavior by a disruptive subset of people. As a result, there will always be a strong, important need to fully understand and address this behavior in a fair, consistent manner.
Our criminal justice major covers all facets of criminal behavior, from the psychological and sociological aspects of crime, to law enforcement, criminal investigations and corrections.
Our criminal justice major provides students with a complete overview of the criminal justice system and all the major elements of it. It provides students with a theoretical understanding of criminal behavior, as well as the consequences of criminal behavior.
A strong foundation
As a criminal justice major at Lakeland, you will be challenged with a large variety of courses. The major delves into basic understanding of our criminal justice system, scientific inquiry into the treatment and prevention of criminal behavior and the ethical behavior of those who work within the discipline.
When criminal justice majors leave Lakeland University, they have a very strong foundation, in addition to the specialty courses that lend themselves to the students’ chosen area of interest.
Criminal Justice at Lakeland
Traditional paths into a criminal justice career often involve law enforcement or corrections. But while a Lakeland University degree certainly prepares students for those fields, criminal justice degree holders are branching out into many other types of careers.
This major provides opportunities to explore specialized areas such as offender assessment and rehabilitation, criminal investigation, evidence-based “best practices” in criminal justice, race and crime and the understanding of violent crime.
Criminal justice major serves rewarding internship
When Rikki Vela arrived at Lakeland as a freshmen, she was set on a career in law enforcement and a retirement job as a mortician. This summer, an internship experience near home introduced her to a career that’s the best of both worlds – the coroner’s office.
Vela, a senior criminal justice major from Waukegan, Ill., interned in the Lake County Coroner’s office from early May through early August. She assumed the experience would include lots of paperwork and office-related tasks, but she was pleasantly surprised at the amazing experiences that awaited her.
She did her share of paperwork, but she also went on ride-alongs for cases involving fatalities, assisted with autopsies and finger printed cadavers in what became a very hands-on internship.
The experience led her to enthusiastically shift her post-Lakeland career focus.
“I want to be a deputy coroner or a death investigator, which are the same person, depending on the department,” Vela said. “It’s like being a police officer and mortician at same time.”
Her internship, which was unpaid, covered virtually all of the jobs entrusted to the coroner’s office, from filling out death certificates to the relationship between the coroner’s office and funeral homes to organ donation.
“I think learning how to draw fluids from a dead body was my favorite, but there were so many,” Vela said. “It was all so amazing. Never in million years did I think I’d be allowed to do all the things I did.”
Vela has family members who work in the funeral home industry, which fueled her interest. And while Vela is clearly fascinated by the makeup of the human body, a big part of her motivation is tied to human emotion.
“I want to help people understand why their loved one passed away or took their live or decided to go on the path they did,” Vela said. “It’s helping find closure for people who don’t know why.”
Vela said she’s grateful to Lakeland’s criminal justice faculty for preparing her for the real-world situations she encountered this summer. Her classwork, plus guess speakers from organizations like the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Natural Resources, have shown her how to apply what she’s learned on the job.
Vela will intern again with the Lake County Coroner’s office this December during Lakeland’s Christmas break, and she’s thinking about studying forensic pathology after earning her bachelor’s degree at Lakeland. She’s also an art minor, and she’d like to help the office create some marketing materials about their internship program.
LU criminal justice students win awards
Two Lakeland University criminal justice students recently placed first and second in a student paper competition at the Midwestern Criminal Justice Association conference in Chicago.
Senior Kendra Zipperer and junior Kalie Novak presented their research and entered their papers into competition. Zipperer’s paper, “Sexual Assaults on College Campuses: The Overlooked Problem,” took first place, while Novak’s paper, “Psychological Crime,” placed second.
Zipperer’s theoretical paper explored how “Routine Activities Theory” can explain why assaults on college campuses occur, and she provided recommendations for policy and prevention tactics. Zipperer began the paper last spring in her Victimology course, and worked on it throughout the summer.
Novak’s research explored how criminality is due to an underdeveloped conscious that results from incomplete psychosexual development. She began work on this paper during her freshman Introduction to Criminology course, and worked on it for more than a year.
LU grad Matijevic begins career in law enforcement
After an intense screening, testing and interviewing process that took nearly nine months, 2017 Lakeland University graduate Dan Matijevic got the call. Matijevic, who majored in criminal justice at LU, was offered a position with the Wisconsin State Patrol. He was sworn in earlier this week, and is training at the academy now.
“It’s a huge relief,” said Matijevic, who worked with Lakeland’s Campus Safety & Security department all four years. “Getting the call was a weight off my shoulders.
“I’m really thankful for everything Lakeland did for me, from my internship with the Plymouth Police Department to the teaching I received from Professors (Karin) Miofsky and (Richard) Lemke. It was all very valuable. Had I gone to a larger university, I wouldn’t have gotten what I got from Lakeland.”
These days, competition for careers in law enforcement is fierce, with many agencies preferring a bachelor’s degree. Matijevic said more than 800 people applied for positions in this recruiting class and only 50 were hired. After he submitted his application, he was pre-screened, then invited to continue. To advance, Matijevic passed the following:
* A physical fitness test
* A full background investigation, conducted by an officer assigned to him
* A phone interview with a background investigator
* An oral interview with a three-member panel
* A written psychological exam that consisted of hundreds of questions
* A 30-minute psychological interview
* A complete medical exam
Now, Matijevic will receive more than 1,000 hours of training over six months in what he calls a “paramilitary lifestyle.”
Once he graduates from the academy, he’ll be assigned to a county in one of five districts and have his own squad car. Long-term career options are many, and include being in the governor’s security detail or serving on state sporting event detail. Wisconsin State Patrol officers also work around the nation, at events such as 2016 Republican Convention or the North Dakota pipeline protests.
As he prepares for his training with the Wisconsin State Patrol, Matijevic feels confident, in part due to his experience with LU’s Campus Safety & Security team.
“I learned how to deal with a lot of different types of situations,” he said. “David Simon (the director) always explained to me how to handle things and the best way to approach the job. David was such a big help.”
Matijevic is aware that law enforcement is viewed with a skeptical eye by many American citizens.
“I want people to know there are a lot of good police officers out there, and I plan to deal with everyone I come into contact with in a professional manner,” he said. “My goal is that everyone goes home safe, and to share with people knowledge they may not have known prior to my contact with them.”
Looking back at his time at Lakeland, Matijevic feels a sense of pride. He was a finalist for the Koehler Award, given annually to Lakeland’s student of the year. He earned criminal justice student of the year honors, served as vice president of the National Honor Society for Criminal Justice, played volleyball for four years and was as a member of the criminal justice club.
“I made a very good choice going to Lakeland,” he said. “I wouldn’t be in this position without that experience. I’m appreciative of Professors Miofsky and Lemke. I could always talk to them about anything, and having that personal relationship was huge. To feel so comfortable with them, as friends and not just professors, was really important to me.”
Special guests highlight LU's Policing in America class
Karin Miofsky’s Policing in America students are regularly interacting face-to-face with impressive guests this semester.
In addition to learning about potential careers in law enforcement through traditional classroom instruction, these Lakeland University criminal justice students have the opportunity to meet and talk to highly successful people in their field of study.
Last month, State Trooper Brian Ashenbrenner, an officer with the Wisconsin State Patrol, visited Lakeland and gave the students an in-depth presentation about the many career opportunities in his organization.
And later that week, Raymond Milbern from the Dallas Police Department, which is actively recruiting nationwide, came to Lakeland and presented about career possibilities in Texas.
“I think it’s valuable for our students to meet these accomplished professionals, and hear from them directly about the many potential careers in law enforcement,” said Miofsky, assistant professor of criminal justice at LU. “It’s a great way to supplement our traditional classroom instruction with real-world opportunities directly from those in the field.”
This month, Tyler Flood of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Plymouth office and Capt. Steve Cobb of the Sheboygan Police Department will visit for presentations about those organizations and the career options they offer.
Criminal justice program expands
Lakeland University’s Criminal Justice program, dedicated to keeping its curriculum fresh and current, is adding seven courses beginning this fall.
The following new classes will help keep the program among Wisconsin’s most progressive and relevant when it comes to meeting the needs of an ever-evolving industry:
Recent Grads, Real Careers
Listed below are just some of the careers Lakeland University criminal justice students from recent graduating classes have landed:
- Police officer, Freeport Police Department
- Correctional officer, Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Department
- Police officer, Minocqua Police Department
- Dispatcher, Calumet County
- 911 dispatcher, Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department
- Correctional officer, Milwaukee County Jail
- Crisis intervention advocate, Safe Harbor of Sheboygan County
- Communications specialist/dispatcher, Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare
Listed below are some of the internships that Lakeland University students have landed during their stay at Lakeland University
- Appleton Probation/Parole - Appleton, Wis.
- Cabrini Green Legal Aid - Chicago, Ill.
- Community Tax Relief - Chicago, Ill.
- Domestic Violence Center - Manitowoc, Wis.
- Door County Sheriff’s Department - Sturgeon Bay, Wis.
- Elkhart Lake Police Department - Elkhart Lake, Wis.
- Fox Lake Police Department - Fox Lake, Ill.
- Kane County Jail - St. Charles, Ill.
- Kettle Moraine Correctional Institution - Plymouth, Wis.
- Kohler Police Department - Kohler, Wis.
- Lutheran Social Services RAYS program - Sheboygan, Wis.
- Manitowoc Police Department - Manitowoc, Wis.
- Manitowoc Sexual Assault Resource Center - Manitowoc, Wis.
- Menasha Police Department - Menasha, Wis.
- Munising Police Department - Munising, Mich.
- National Security Agency - Fort Meade, MD
- Necedah National Wildlife Refuge - Necedah, Wis.
- New Holstein Police Department - New Holstein, Wis.
- Niagra Foundation - Chicago, Il.
- Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Department - Port Washington, Wis.
- Ozaukee Probation & Parole - Port Washington, Wis.
- Portage Sheriff’s Department - Portage, Wis.
- Plymouth Police Department - Plymouth, Wis.
- Shawano Police Department - Shawano, Wis.
- Shawano Probation/Parole - Shawano, Wis.
- Sheboygan County Corrections - Sheboygan, Wis.
- Sheboygan County Interfaith Organization - Sheboygan, Wis.
- Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Department - Sheboygan, Wis.
- Sheboygan District Attorney’s Office - Sheboygan, Wis.
- Sturgeon Bay Police Department - Sturgeon Bay, Wis.
- Two Rivers Police Department - Two Rivers, Wi.
- Walworth County Sheriff’s Department - Elkhorn, Wis.
- Wisconsin Department of Corrections - Sheboygan, Wis.