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.”