A program at Destinations Career Academy is helping students learn the reality of working in law enforcement, at a time when the profession is under the microscope. High profile police shootings and a push for racial justice have led to calls to defund police departments.
At Destinations, an online school in Colorado, these discussions are brought to the forefront.
“We definitely have debates about that, and the system is very unfair at times,” said Ashlyn Desmond, a sophomore.
Desmond is currently considering a career as a prosecutor or detective. Students in the legal and law pathway at Destinations Career Academy leave school prepared do go directly into the police academy, or on to college.
Teacher Beth Vasquez says interest in criminal justice is growing, fueled in part by popular culture.
“The crime podcast is super popular, we weave that into our discussions because they do bring a lot of that into the classroom and it builds up excitement,” said Vasquez.
But she said it’s more important to discuss the reality of policing. Vasquez brings in guest speakers in law enforcement and the justice system. In her classes, they’ve done projects on civil rights and human rights.
Desmond said her classes have taught her about the intricacies of investigating crimes and ensuring that civil rights are not violated in the process. But in the end, she hopes to help crime victims.
“You’re bringing justice to the families and helping people out all around,” she said.