Criminal Justice Majors Gain Experience through Deputy Program

In Fall 2021, Issue, News by Sarah Moss

Dordt criminal justice majors have a work experience requirement for graduation, and this year, three Dordt criminal justice are taking advantage of a unique opportunity to become Iowa reserve peace officers, also known as deputies.  The Woodbury County Sheriff, their training unit, and reserve unit have agreed to partner with Dordt to train junior and senior criminal justice majors to become Iowa Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) certified reserve officers,” says Jon Moeller, professor of criminal justice.

Every Thursday night during the fall semester, the group drives to Sioux City to participate in a four-hour training session. Over the next nine months, they will go through six modules that cover topics like criminal law, felony calls, patrol techniques, juvenile law, laws of arrest, motor vehicle law, report writing, and more. They must complete 80 hours of training and 40 hours of supervised time to be certified as reserve peace officers. Once officially certified, they will be able to ride along with full-time deputies and engage in actual police work.

“By Iowa law, reserve deputies have the same authority and powers of arrest as full-time deputies,” explains Moeller. “Reserves typically assist with crowd and traffic control, full-time law enforcement training, court security, inmate transportation, and general deputy support.”

Nate Monillas, a senior criminal justice major, is taking part in the reserve officer program this semester.

“I decided to join because it is a great learning experience,” he says. Because he plans to live in the Le Mars or Sioux City area after he graduates, volunteering in Woodbury County could also give him some helpful connections.

Getting certified as an Iowa reserve deputy gives students a leg up among their peers, adds Moeller.

“These students will leave Dordt with a strong education and with work experience. Whether they are planning to be a lawyer or to work in law enforcement, they will find that having experienced the work firsthand is vital,” he says.

Communication Professor Dr. Tom Prinsen has wanted to be in law enforcement, so when he heard about the reserve deputy program from Moeller, he decided to apply, too. Once he completes the program, he plans to serve as a reserve deputy on a volunteer basis during the summer months.

“This program allows me to apply the skills I already have in new ways,” says Prinsen. “For example, interpersonal communication—officers are often there at some of the toughest times of people’s lives, so how do you communicate well in those challenging times?”

Moeller is already hearing accolades about the Dordt group. Early in the fall semester, he emailed the three Dordt students and Prinsen to let them know that “the Woodbury County Sheriff’s Office has been impressed with each of you. They were very impressed with your level of professionalism and appearance, and they have already commented that others should live up to the standard you set.”

Monillas is grateful to be able to get an inside glimpse of what it’s like to be part of the policing community while he is still in college.

“I can’t wait to be part of something that I feel is important and helpful,” he says.