ON PATROL: Erickson mentors Criminal Justice students

Physical Training is a constant in Instructor Jeff Erickson’s Criminal Justice class.

Jeff Erickson’s working a new job in a new location. But one thing hasn’t changed – the work itself still combines his experience in law enforcement with his passion for public service.

In his role as instructor of the Clare-Gladwin Career & Technical Education program’s Criminal Justice class, Erickson is able to draw on his 20-plus years as a police officer and educator to help turn today’s high schoolers into tomorrow’s public safety workers.

“I have been very fortunate to have worked in positions that provided experience in law enforcement, public service and education,” Erickson said. “I hope that stories of my successes and failures will help students determine if the public safety field is right for them. I also hope that my education background will help students to learn essential skills to prepare them to be career- and college-ready.”

The Criminal Justice program allows students to explore careers in law enforcement, security, corrections, the court system, emergency services, protective services and legal services. Along the way, they learn about important police techniques like fingerprinting, reporting writing, search and seizure and First Response.

Erickson’s career includes work as a law enforcement officer with the Ogemaw County Sheriff’s Department and at Saginaw Valley State University. He’s worked in public education since 2004 as an administrator, teacher and coach, and he’s not surprised where his career path has led.

“All of my brothers and sisters were into education, and my father was on the school board for many years,” he said. “I always loved teaching, coaching and working with young people, and even when I was a full-time officer, I substitute taught, coached and mentored. This job’s a perfect fit for me because I have the real-life experience and I love sharing it with prospective public safety professionals.”

While Erickson’s hard at work helping train today’s students, he holds a special place in his heart for yesterday’s as well.

“Anytime a former student comes back to see me and they’re doing well, that’s a real point of pride for me,” he said. “That, and when students tell me they couldn’t have done it without me – that’s how I know it’s working.”

Erickson has spent the first couple months on the job getting to know the lay of the land, but his students are already well into the curriculum via Erickson’s lectures, guest speakers and field trips.

“It’s always a challenge going where people don’t know you, and sometimes the schedule – having students coming and going at different times – presents some instructional challenges,” he said. “But it’s been great getting to know the staff and students. Everyone has been extremely welcoming.

“With the passage of the millage last spring, this is a really exciting time for the CTE program,” he added. “It’s great to know that the community is behind the programs. Teaching has always been my passion; I love working with teens and sharing my experiences, and I feel extremely blessed to have been given this opportunity.”