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Criminal justice students experience private security careers

Feb 10, 2022
Seven people stand in front of Cinderella Castle at Disney World
Seven people stand in front of Cinderella Castle at Disney World

KOKOMO, Ind. – Visiting a Disney resort is a whole new world after you’ve studied what happens behind-the-scenes to keep guests safe.

Students in an Indiana University Kokomo private security class went behind the scenes at Walt Disney World, Universal Studios Florida, King’s Island, and the Indianapolis Zoo. In addition, they met via Zoom with security professionals from the Smithsonian Museum and Facebook, to see the challenges and possibilities of this aspect of criminal justice.

“We’re getting them out in the real world where they can experience it first-hand,” said Kelly Brown, associate professor of criminal justice and homeland security, who created and taught the class with Kelly Fisher, lecturer in criminal justice and homeland security. “They’re learning from us in the classroom, but they don’t have to take our word for it.”

Students often think of police, courts, corrections, and law when they consider studying criminal justice, and a new minor provides another option.

“By taking them to see actual people doing these jobs in a number of different places, they understand more what goes into protecting those facilities,” Fisher said. “They see what the policies and procedures are when security personnel are faced with someone who is trying to jump over the fence at the zoo, or similar situations.”

The trip to the Florida theme parks, offered as part of the IU Kokomo Experience and You, or KEY program, gave them the chance to see how big security is in the private sector.

Junior Laina Fields said seeing security in action at Disney World helped her visualize the difference between how a private security officer handles a security situation, as opposed to a police officer.

“We were able to see that on a bigger scale,” she said. “With the insider’s perspective, and being able to see it, you could connect it all.”

Senior Gustavo Garcia plans to be a police officer, but said he’s now open to the idea of security work as well.

“We’ve read about security in the textbook, but going to the place and seeing it with my own eyes, and seeing how it actually works, helped it be a more real option,” he said.

The trip is part of IU Kokomo’s KEY program , which launched in 2016 with the goal of providing students chances to connect with people and participate in real-world experiences. The goal is for each student to have a free or low-cost travel experience within his or her major.

Education is KEY at Indiana University Kokomo.

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