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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Criminal Justice Corrections students get a close look at their future in law enforcement

August 29, 2017

Kern County Sheriffs recruitment event attendeesA few weeks ago, the Kern County Sheriff’s Department in Bakersfield opened their facility to 92 SJVC Criminal Justice Corrections students for an up close and personal experience with the sophisticated tools and techniques of law enforcement.

“We had their bomb squad, hostage negotiation RV, two helicopters and squad cars with their emergency spotlights and loud speakers for our students to explore,” says Stacy Rocha, Criminal Justice: Corrections Program Director for the Bakersfield campus. The students were enthralled with all the surveillance, interrogation and communication equipment and demonstrations provided by law enforcement personnel.

All of that intriguing equipment did not distract attendees from the main goal of this 5-hour event: Criminal Justice: Corrections students from the Bakersfield, Fresno, Visalia and Lancaster campuses were there to take the Pellet B exam (POST Entry-level Law Enforcement Test Battery).

“The Pellet B is the first step in the hiring process for police and sheriff’s departments,” says Stacy. “For every 500 applicants who take the test, only 50-75 (10-15%) will pass. But you are able to re-test every month.”

Police Academy entrance requires all applicants to take and receive passing scores on the Pellet B exam, an aptitude test which measures reading and writing skills that are associated with successful performance as a California peace officer.

“The exam consists of reading comprehension, a little math, and psychological examination, and takes a couple of hours to complete,” says Stacy. Once students have taken the exam, they know what to expect.”

Tammy Zamora had only been in the Criminal Justice: Corrections program a few days when she attended this event, where she took and passed the Pellet B on her first try. “The fact that I was so new to the program, I really did not know what to expect at all. Mrs. Rocha told me to just take it and give it a try. After hearing comments about my fellow students not passing, I was a little surprised that I passed.”

While some students were taking the exam, others were experiencing the various departments and specialties of law enforcement.

Criminal Justice: Corrections students enjoyed getting into surveillance vans and using some of the hi-tech equipment currently in use. Vehicles were packed with special electronics, making them wonder how officers could spend hours monitoring subjects’ activities and conversations in such tight quarters. “It was very hands-on and students got to take some pictures,” says Stacy.

Many students became intrigued with areas of expertise they had not considered previously. “It did change a lot of minds about what they thought they wanted to do when they graduate,” says Stacy. “They didn’t realize all the options the Sheriff’s Department held. They could work inside prisons, as hostage negotiators, on street patrol, bomb squads, K-9 or gang units. It opened the door to new career directions.”

There was a lot of encouragement for SJVC’s students to push themselves toward successful careers in law enforcement from a few important voices on the sidelines. Five Criminal Justice: Corrections graduates who are currently Sheriff Deputies took a special interest in their college’s students.

As students took their seats to take the Pellet B exam, Criminal Justice: Corrections grads and hosts for the event gave them a lot of encouragement. “Just speaking with grads who are now Sheriff Deputies was intriguing to our students and got them thinking, ‘I can do this!,’” says Stacy.

Nine Criminal Justice: Corrections students passed the Pellet B exam that night, while those who did not make it on the first try found additional motivation and became better prepared to advance to the next round.

The Kern County Sheriff’s Department was not simply introducing Criminal Justice: Corrections students to potential career positions, they were in full recruitment mode. “The whole application, testing and background check process can take up to six months,” says Stacy. The Police and Sheriff’s departments want to groom applicants along the way to ensure the greatest potential for a match and mutual success.

This Criminal Justice: Corrections event is the first of many more that are in planning between the Bakersfield campus and these two law enforcement agencies.

“They want to partner with us for other events like this,” says Stacy. “They hire for other facilities with Kern County, like HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) for maintenance crews and medical staff in jails. They will use us (SJVC graduates) as a resource.”

SJVC is happy to have found a supply-and-demand dynamic that fills many employer and graduate needs.

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