SCOPE training allows criminal justice students to gain real-life experience
- Officers from the Lynchburg Police Department held training sessions at various locations around campus on Dec. 2.
- Students received feedback and practice to better prepare them for future careers in law enforcement.
Lynchburg Police Department partnered with Liberty University’s SCOPE Program, a subset of the Criminal Justice Club, to provide students with hands-on experience and practice for futures in law enforcement Saturday, Dec. 2.
The SSS Event, properly known as SCOPE Super Saturday, was modeled after LPD’s entrance examination events called “Super Saturdays,” and featured three different experiences for participants— mock interviews, officer scenario trainings and a physical agility test.
“For the SCOPE Program, this event is kind of like the reward for the students who have gone through the program,” Tyler Schurr, president of the Criminal Justice Club, said.
Six LPD officers volunteered their time Saturday morning to help with the event by conducting interviews, running the physical agility tests and assisting with officer scenario trainings. About 20 students from the SCOPE Program attended the event that took place in several locations across campus— DeMoss Hall, the Jerry Falwell Library and the East Campus intramural fields.
“I actually think this is one of the most beneficial events that we’ve had for the criminal justice program at Liberty because you get to deal with officers in this setting,” senior criminal justice student Gavin Kinzer said. “You still have that professional barrier, but you get practice and get to learn what the interview process will be like.”
The interviews, called oral boards, took place in the Jerry Falwell Library conference rooms and were conducted by LPD officers and several volunteers from the club. Kinzer explained that questions were similar to what law enforcement applicants are asked during entrance exams.
“(Oral boards) can be intimidating for a lot of students,” Schurr said. “This gives them a chance to get in, get a feel for how this works in a ‘when your job is not on the line’ scenario … Lynchburg Police (also) get to look at Liberty students.”
In addition to being interviewed, students also received feedback from officers on how they can improve before actual oral board exams. LPD Officer Luther Rose explained that this event also benefitted students because they now have a greater understanding of what police departments are looking for in applicants.
Officers had students learn from potential officer scenarios in room 3020 of DeMoss Hall. Students worked in pairs to respond to different scenarios and had an officer assisting them throughout the process.
“(The scenario room) went from zero to 100 very quickly,” Kinzer said. “We had officers act out things that you don’t necessarily think will happen.”
Following the indoor exercises, the group traveled to the East Campus intramural fields to take the physical examination. Kinzer explained this was a combination of sprints, burpees and sit-ups. However, the participants had to remember a street address from beginning to end, despite the stress of the physical activity.
Schurr explained that the SCOPE Program is unique because it partners directly with LPD’s Community Action Team throughout the semester, not only to learn about community policing, but also to help LPD with community policing.
“(SCOPE) tries to bring a holistic approach to community policing, giving students the experience of what it’s like to work with police officers and what it’s like to police in a community,” Shurr said.
The program has been in the works since 2016, but this is the first official semester for SCOPE. Schurr said that the program hosts events nearly every week for students, and it can serve as a Christian Service requirement because the events are often volunteer activities. The program actually grew out of Schurr’s experience as a site leader for Liberty’s Campus Serve where he worked alongside LPD officers in inner-city Lynchburg.
Aside from SCOPE Super Saturday, students have volunteered with the LPD Community Action Team throughout the semester at community-service events. The club helped with a hayride on Oct. 31 to keep Lynchburg children off the streets on Halloween night. They also helped distribute food boxes to elderly citizens in the city, Officer Rose said.
SCOPE members are also required to complete a course on basic officer safety, investigation and community policing before they can enter the program.
“In classes, we learn a lot of theories and ethics … and it’s great to learn those things, have the head knowledge,” Schurr said. “But this kind of fuses the head knowledge with what officers are doing out on the street.”