Criminal Justice Plans to Add New Certificates | ACTC

Criminal Justice Plans to Add New Certificates

The Criminal Justice (CJ) Program at Ashland Community and Technical College is expanding the options available to people seeking credentials for a job or promotion in criminal justice fields.

The program now offers a certificate in computer forensics and four options for an Associate of Applied Science Degree: corrections, criminal justice, law enforcement and security/loss prevention. Pending final approval, certificates in each of those four options will begin this spring.

The Corrections Option focuses on the operations of prisons and jails, juvenile justice, probation and other aspects of the corrections system.

The Criminal Justice Option provides an overview of corrections, juvenile justice, security and police operations, procedures and administration.

The Law Enforcement Option focuses on theory, principles and techniques used by law enforcement agencies and police units.

The Security Loss Protection Option includes systems and issues related to asset protection and physical security.

Criminal Justice jobs have evolved into jobs requiring complex knowledge and skills. Increasing the number of certificates will help students who want to concentrate on one aspect of criminal justice at a time, said Don OPell, Associate Professor and CJ Program Coordinator.

His daughter, Angellene H. OPell, has been a patrol office for the Ashland Police Department for 11 years. She came back to college because it was something I had started long ago, and I wanted to finish a degree. She graduated from ACTC in May 2010 with an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Criminal Justice.

I would absolutely recommend the ACTC program to people already in a CJ career, she said. The college is accessible and affordable and offers flexibility in scheduling, with day, evening and online classes. It took a while to get a degree, but Im glad I did it. I found out that I can still learn.

A current student is Jeffrey Tate Preston, a Worthington resident and 2009 Raceland-Worthington High School graduate. My goal is to become a Kentucky State Trooper and eventually move into some type of Federal law enforcement, he said.

My dad (Jeffrey L. Preston) has practiced law as an attorney or circuit judge for my entire life, so I got to observe the criminal justice system from many perspectives, he said. I decided that I wanted to go into the law enforcement side.

I debated moving away to college but decided it was important to stay at home and get my basic classes, Preston said. The transition from high school to college is very significant, and I felt ACTC was the best option for me.

The CJ program at ACTC provides knowledge of the theory, principles and techniques employed by police units, law enforcement agencies, corrections institutions and security operations.

Corrections, criminal justice and law enforcement employment is found at the municipal, county, state and federal levels. The Security Loss Protection Option Jobs are found with businesses, industries, private and public organizations, and private security/protection agencies.

Nationwide, jobs for detectives and criminal investigators will increase 17% from 2008 to 2018 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment is expected to grow 9% for correctional officers, 14% for security guards, 10% for police and 22% for private detectives and investigators.

My goal is to become a correctional or parole officer with a Federal Correctional Institution, said Tiffany L. Blain, a student from Ashland. I plan to get my associates degree at ACTC and go on to Eastern Kentucky University for a bachelors degree in Correctional and Juvenile Justice Studies.

I chose ACTC because they offered the program that I was interested in, with low cost tuition, a close proximity to home and courses that will transfer to Eastern, she said.

Criminal Justice Courses

Courses include criminal justice theory, criminal law, procedures and investigations, police work, delinquency and juvenile justice, and criminalistics. Most classes are offered online as well as on campus in order to help working students fit college into their schedules.

Online classes for spring include Intro to Law Enforcement, Community Corrections/Probations amp; Parole, Liability amp; Legal Issues, and Principles of Asset Protection.

On-campus classes for spring include Criminal Investigations , Criminal Law, Criminal Procedures, Intro to Criminal Justice, Intro to Criminalistics, Issues/Ethics in Criminal Justice, Prison amp; Jail Administration, and Terrorism amp; Political Violence.

CJ Instructors

The CJ program has great instructors with years of experience that you would expect to find at a four year institution, said Preston. These experienced instructors and advisors are the best part of the program. Their main goal see the students do well, and they are always willing to help out.

Associate Professor and Program Coordinator Don OPell, an alumnus of ACC, an ACTC predecessor, is a former Ashland police captain with 30 years of law enforcement experience.

Assistant Professor Daniel Cooksey was director of corporate security for a Fortune 500 company, and he worked with the Metropolitan Crime Commission of New Orleans.

Part-time instructors include Scott Hill, Director of Safety and Security at Kings Daughters Medical Center, and Beverly Sharp, retired supervisor with the Federal Corrections System. Jim Howard is Commander of the Adult Police Academy at Collins Career Center and former chief investigator with the Lawrence County OH Sheriffs Department, and Gary Kistner is a retired public relations officer with the Kentucky State Police.

We bring real world experiences into class as much as possible, OPell said. We give students perspective on how textbook theories and procedures are applied in real situations.

The experience of the instructors is important to Stefanie L. Fosson, a student from Flatwoods. They are knowledgeable, factual and caring, and their efforts are important to my success in the program.

My personal goal in Criminal Justice is to make a difference, and Id like to enter the field of Corrections as a Probation officer she said. I have seen people wind up on the wrong side of the law, and if I can just make a difference in just one persons life, my primary goal will be accomplished.

CJ for Spring

I came to ACTC mainly because it was closer to home, and it didn't make sense to put myself in debt to go away to school when I can get the same quality education right here in Ashland, Fosson said. To anyone looking into a Criminal Justice career, Id say that ACTC is a wonderful college to achieve your goal.

For information on the Criminal Justice Program, email Professor OPell at: or call 606-326-2217 after January 2. Spring registration for those already admitted will be from January 3 to 7, and classes start January 10. January 3 is the application deadline, and applications can be made online at: