HACKETTSTOWN, NJ (Warren County) — When it comes to getting career advice, Centenary University criminal justice majors go right to the top: Col. Patrick J. Callahan, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, recently visited a criminal justice course designed to encourage exploration of the job opportunities and issues facing law enforcement today. Called Careers in Criminal Justice, the course is taught by Douglas Compton, Ed.D., assistant professor of criminal justice.
Col. Callahan said outreach is critical to his role, both to strengthen community relations and recruit the best trooper candidates. “I take great pride in speaking to these students,” explained Col. Callahan, who received a Centenary University Challenge Coin from University President Bruce Murphy, Ed.D., to honor his visit. “It gives them a greater understanding of what our 100+ years of service look like and how we have evolved over time. It is important to let our citizens and students know what the State Police is all about—it’s not just up and down the Turnpike. There are 120 specialized jobs, and hopefully, I’ve piqued the interest of some students.”
During his presentation, Col. Callahan emphasized that maintaining the professionalism and commitment of his department is something state troopers work at 24/7—even when they’re off duty: “Technology may have changed, but it is still about the dedication of the women and men who serve. In our local communities, everyone knows we are troopers. We coach Little League, teach Sunday school, serve as adjunct professors, and much more. Whether participating in Read Across America for elementary school students or speaking to college students, it’s all part of the job.”
Enrolling mostly freshmen, the course is part of Centenary’s Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice, which is taught by faculty members who have also worked in law enforcement for many years. The University also offers a master’s degree in leadership & public administration. A former police officer in Washington Township, NJ, Dr. Compton earned his master’s degree in leadership and public administration from Centenary in 2006, along with his doctorate from Centenary in 2019.
“My goal is to encourage students to explore as much as possible early in their college careers, so we can get them on the right track later with internships and job placement,” Dr. Compton said. “This course teaches students about the different areas of the criminal justice system, from law enforcement to the court system, corrections, and well-known entities such as the New Jersey State Police.”
Other guest speakers—including several Centenary University alumni who are currently pursuing careers in criminal justice—have represented a broad range of careers in the field, including municipal police, sheriffs, the U.S. Postal Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, county prosecutor, homeland security, state corrections, juvenile detention, court administrator, and judge.