Faculty Q&A with CJC Instructor Jesse Embry
Not long after retiring from a 27-year career with the California Department of Corrections, Jesse Embry joined SJVC as the Criminal Justice: Corrections program lead instructor for the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS) Security Officer Academy class where training and topics include powers to arrest, exposed firearms, courtroom procedures, public and community customer relations and much more.
He travels thousands of miles each year to teach the class at all SJVC campuses – the program is currently offered in the California locations of Ontario, Temecula, Modesto, Fresno, Visalia, Hesperia, Lancaster, and Santa Maria. Here, Jesse describes his long career in corrections and what he most loves about teaching at SJVC.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts and career with SJVC. First let me give honor to God who has blessed my family and career. I have been married for 29 years and have two sons. My oldest just finished his master’s degree at California State University San Bernardino. The youngest completed his BA at San Diego St. in May 2021. I graduated from Azusa Pacific University in 1988. I retired from the California Department of Corrections in 2015, completing 27 years of service. During my career with CDC, I served as a SWAT TEAM Member, Extradition Agent, Fugitive Apprehension Team, Firearm Instructor, Baton Instructor, Chemical Agent Instructor, and supervisor. I was also deputized as a US Marshal in 2006.
What sparked your interest in a career in criminal justice/corrections?
I took an interest in criminal justice my senior year in college. I attended a law enforcement seminar my senior year at APU. Ever since that day, there was never a doubt what I wanted to do. Before my senior year I had zero interest in working for law enforcement. Also, my best friend graduated a year before me and became an LAPD officer. I was impressed by his graduation ceremony and admired how he took an oath to protect and serve the community.
What were you doing before teaching at SJVC?
Before teaching at SJVC I was a Parole Agent Supervisor in charge of Training for active Parole Agents.
Can you describe your current work?
Currently I teach the BSIS security guard class for SJVC. The students are required to complete classroom assignments on the Powers to Arrest, Weapons of Mass Destruction, and BSIS Power Points. They also complete Firearms training, Baton training and Chemical Agents.
Being a correctional officer in the prison setting requires a lot of responsibility. Being a team player and ensuring the inmates’ program as needed. As far as an instructor, educating the students on how to be a good Correctional Officer. In the classes the students pick our brains and ask many questions regarding working in the correctional setting. It is not about war stories but policy and procedures that help make them effective in the workplace.
What do you most enjoy about your work?
I most enjoy building the students’ self-esteem and believing in themselves. Some of the students have never fired a weapon. To instruct and see the positive results at the end is the ultimate satisfaction. The BSIS class is second to none when it comes to required classes for criminal justice students. The BSIS class is a lot of hands-on practical application. It is most certainly the confidence booster that they need.
What’s the best part about being a corrections officer and/or a corrections instructor?
The reward is to see the self-confidence of the students and believing in themselves… especially the quiet ones!
What do you find most challenging about your work?
The most challenging issue I have with the students is the physical fitness. Basically, getting the student to work out and stay in shape. Day one of most Police academies is designed to weed out those who are not in shape!
How has COVID-19 affected your duties?
COVID-19 has affected us because we cannot teach the three Firearms, Chemical Agents and Baton online. So, for a while it appeared that the students lost interest. It is good to be back in the classroom, hands on.
Was there a moment in your career that reinforced that you made the right decision to work in corrections, and/or to teach in the SJVC program?
There was a moment that let me know I had picked the right occupation: when I was on the task force and was deputized as a US Marshal in 2006. To teach the Firearms class is the ultimate satisfaction as a Firearms Instructor!
Is there a SJVC instructor or staff member that you’d like to acknowledge?
There are three. Mark Swagger, who I can’t thank enough for allowing me to help and assist with the students on the range. Mr. Swagger is the ultimate professional and brings a high level of safety on the firing line. It is an honor to work alongside and with Mr. Swagger.
Kent Chivington (Temecula CJC Program Director) – Watching him has shown me how to instruct and teach students. I look forward to seeing him down range with us as he pursues his Firearms Instructor License. Temecula campus is always on point and I love teaching there.
Michael Bocanegra (Hesperia CJC Program Director) – When I began at SJVC Michael was always there to help regarding downloading classes and SJVC procedures.
What advice do you have for people interested in going into corrections and criminal justice?
My advice for anyone going into any type of law enforcement is to have thick skin and hopefully a strong support group. Make no mistake, these are probably the toughness times for law enforcement officers. Also put down the cell phones and social media apps and EXCERCISE. If you can text, post, call or DM then you can stretch, run, and lift!!
What advice do you have for someone thinking about going to school?
My advice for anyone going to school is to have a goal in mind. Believe in your dream and most importantly believe in yourself!
What’s next for you? Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I will continue to teach the kids Firearms, Chemical Agents and Baton Training. Thank you SJVC for allowing me to assist and train future law enforcement officers.
Learn More About A Career In Criminal Justice: Corrections
Criminal Justice: Corrections can open doors to work in private, state, federal prisons or local jails as well as in private security in California. Learn how to join this exciting career and why you should pursue a correctional officer degree.
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