Categories: AcademicsCampus LifeCollege of Humanities and Social Sciences

Justice studies students standing guard at Cardinals home games

By Rachelle Reeves
GCU News Bureau

Joy Kimaru is among nearly 60 Grand Canyon University students working this fall as security guards at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale during Arizona Cardinals home games.

Kimaru, a junior criminal justice major, serves as president of the campus law enforcement club that’s part of the ’Lopes Justice Society. She is also part of a new campus security club that is focused this fall on training justice-oriented students on how to earn Arizona “unarmed guard cards,” which enable them to work as security guards — though not on campus.

In addition to the security club, the ’Lopes Justice Society — made up mostly of justice studies students — includes the law enforcement club, a corrections club, and a group of mock trial students. The justice clubs build on what students learn in the classroom by encouraging discipline and strengthening students’ sense of the attention to detail required of modern law enforcement officers.

The security club is becoming the most active of GCU’s justice clubs, members said. With unarmed guard certification, students have the ability to work any unarmed guard jobs. The GCU security club hosts additional workshops so students can develop fundamentals of self-defense, report writing, negotiation tactics, crime scene investigation, and physical agility.

“This club helps me to get to know other people in law enforcement and assures me this is the path I want to take,” said Kimaru, who added that she would like to work as a police officer in the future.

“It mixes my criminal justice classes with a practical look-see into how it all works,” she said.

According to the Arizona Department of Public Safety, requirements for an Arizona unarmed guard card, known as an Unarmed Security Guard Registration Certificate, include an eight-hour training class and background check. The course trains applicants on how to act ethically in different security situations.

The Law Enforcement Club includes firearms training, police-related workshops and “ride-alongs” with agencies ranging from Tucson Police, to Los Angeles-area agencies and local sheriff’s offices.

Cornel Stemley, a GCU assistant professor of criminal justice who serves as adviser for the ‘Lopes Justice Society, ensures students have accreditation and access to law enforcement agencies that have experience in situations outside classroom.

Stemley said that 90 students were accepted for the Cardinals’ stadium gig, though some passed on the opportunity. Not all are members of campus justice clubs, he said. GCU’s ground-campus justice studies undergraduate program includes nearly 300 total students with a range of law enforcement-related interests.

GCU’s Law Enforcement Club is recognized by the American Criminal Justice Association and students participate in regional competitions with others from universities in New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana. Stemley said the competitions, especially at the national level, show GCU club members how they compare with other collegiate criminal justice students.

“It tests them academically, tests their performance, and gives them a chance to compete against other peers outside of (GCU),” said Stemley, who serves on the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board which maintains integrity and professionalism within Arizona peace and correctional officers.

Kassandra Flores, a GCU freshman who oversees the security team, said the club “really opens your eyes to different aspects of law enforcement and training.”

“It teaches you responsibility and accountability for who you are as a person,” Flores said. “In a sense, you can start a career out of this club.”

Contact Rachelle Reeves at gcutoday@gcu.edu.

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