Efforts to Increase Criminal Justice Enrollment at Austin Community College

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As we continue to follow the stories of law enforcement personnel struggles — locally and nationally — we’re learning that it’s not just police departments that face challenges recruiting people.

Faculty at Austin Community College (ACC) said enrollment in the criminal justice program is down.

  • Fall 2021: 506 students
  • Fall 2020: 650 students
  • Fall 2019: 840 students

“What we’re trying to do right now is get more students out of online programs and back into the classroom,” said Delta Jolley, an assistant professor in the program. “When we do, it’s easier for our professionals who have decades of experience in these fields [to be] able to have these frank conversations and talk about the current events that are happening. When you’re talking to a computer screen, it’s harder to have those candid conversations.

In addition to efforts to bring students back to campus, Jolley said the school’s public safety program is also working on sharing new recruiting videos that include a look at the virtual reality program.

In Texas, you must be at least 21 years old to enroll in a police academy—either have an associate’s degree or 60 credit hours from a college or university.

“So when you have the opportunity to get into the Academy, you’ve already had that chair time and you’ve shown that you can learn either through lecture or hands-on,” Jolly said, noting the benefits of the ACC program.

The school said about 80 percent of ACC graduates live and work in the Austin area, which is another reason they want to increase their numbers in the public safety program.

Jolley said students who graduate from the criminal justice system can also pursue careers outside of becoming police officers or deputy sheriffs — such as corrections and forensics.

Press here if you are interested in the program.

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