More than 500 students and local job seekers attended the third annual Law Enforcement Career Fair and tribute to first responders, held April 3 in the Warner Student Life Center.
Sponsored by Brookdale’s Criminal Justice Department and the Central New Jersey chapter of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), the event featured representatives from dozens of local, regional and national law enforcement agencies.
Whether they were interested in the FBI, the state police or the Neptune Township Police Department, attendees had a chance to network with high ranking officials and learn what it takes to kick-start their career.
“Some of these agencies are actually hiring right now, and for the ones that aren’t our students and other attendees get to see a broad range of career possibilities,” said Brookdale criminal justice Professor and event co-coordinator Barbara Gonos.
“The competition in law enforcement is incredible, and you have to broaden your horizons. That’s why we work to bring such in such a diverse group of agencies. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department, for example, is a fantastic law enforcement agency to work for, but nobody ever thinks about them. Their chief is here today.”
For local law enforcement hopefuls like Julian Morgan, of Highlands, the fair was an opportunity to learn the different requirements for various agencies and the best methods for applying.
“As you can see, it’s a very competitive field. But luckily there is always a need out there for police officers,” said Morgan, who recently earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.
“It’s going very well today. My goal is the DEA, and I was just speaking with them about the in-field experience they require. I understand that you have to start somewhere. I’m just trying to get my foot in the door.”
The event also served as a tribute for the region’s law enforcement officers who lost their lives in the line of duty during the last year. Brookdale criminal justice graduate and current Montclair State University student Leondra Weems led the room in moment of silence for New York Police Department Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, who were shot by an assailant in December.
Pennsylvania State Police Corporal Bryon Dickson, who was killed in a September shooting, and Philadelphia Police Department Officer Robert Wilson III, who was killed in May, were honored as well.
“This is the third year that the NYPD and the Pennsylvania State Police have participated in the career fair,” said Weems. “Your loss is our loss. We wish to honor those who have given their lives in the line of duty and, on behalf of Brookdale and the entire Monmouth County community, extend our thanks to all of you for your work and sacrifice each day.”
Following a year marked by high profile shootings and police actions in communities across the country, NOBEL Central New Jersey Chapter President Eugene Stewart said the law enforcement profession is now at a “critical juncture.”
From the recruitment of new demographics to policy evaluation and department accreditation standards, Stewart said agencies can, and should, work to bridge any divides that exist between them and their communities. That task, Stewart said, belongs to both seasoned veterans and the future law enforcement professionals in attendance.
“We owe it to ourselves, our families, our communities to be better, and to do better,” said Stewart, who also serves as lieutenant with the Neptune Township Police Department. “This will only be accomplished with each and every one of you, aspiring to be in places where we are, and the energy, ideas and collective thought that you will bring with you to this most rewarding profession. I encourage you to embrace today, and the opportunity to make a difference.”
In recognition of their successful three-year partnership, Stewart and NOBLE Central New Jersey Chapter Vice President Selma Morris also kicked off the career fair by presenting Gonos with a spray of flowers.
Check out more photos of the 2015 Law Enforcement Career Fair here.