More than 1,100 high school and college students from the surrounding area, and even as far away as Brownsville, attended the Fourth Annual Criminal Justice Career Expo on Friday, October 25. The expo is the largest of its kind in North Texas, and allows for criminal-justice-minded students to engage directly with the men and women who work in the professions they hope to pursue.
Students from Dallas ISD, Forney, Ennis, Waxahachie, Red Oak, Cedar Hill and more, plus from Dallas County Community College District and Tarrant County College, enjoyed the new spacious environs in the Student Center's Campus Hall. Fifty-six local, state and federal criminal justice agencies set up information tables. Organizations ranged from police departments, fire departments, EMS, the FBI, ATF, branches of the miltary and many, many more. Outside the Student Center, emergency vehicles lined the pavement, from fire trucks and ambulances, to a mobile command center, a bomb-squad unit and even a horse from the Dallas Police Department's Mounted Unit.
The Criminal Justice Career Expo is presented by the UNT Dallas Criminal Justice Department.
"The event provided a platform for agencies to engage with the local community about who they are, what they do, and their respective agency’s mission," said Aaron Bartula, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, and a key organizer of the expo. "Further, the agency representatives engaged in candid discussions regarding their personal career paths. The 2019 Expo included a number of criminal justice agencies that are not as visible in order to introduce the students to the vast array of careers within the field.”
As law enforcement work is becoming more dangerous and more scrutinized, and when relationships between police officers and residents in the communities they serve can often be strained, urban police departments are finding it difficult to hire enough officers. UNT Dallas’ Criminal Justice Career Expo offers an opportunity for students to engage in a positive way with criminal justice professionals and gain first-hand knowledge of what their jobs entail, as well as learn about the wide-ranging career opportunities available with a criminal justice degree.
“At a time when the national image of the criminal justice system is split, the University of North Texas at Dallas Criminal Justice Career Expo provides a platform to bring both young area students that have career interests in the field of criminal justice and the practitioners together to discuss the realties and opportunities within the field," Bartula said. "It is a unique opportunity for individuals that are vested in the community to get to know one another as fellow community members in an informal capacity.”
Fox 4 reporter Alex Boyer put the importance of the career expo in perspective with this report.