First criminal justice cohort program graduates 22
A total of 22 local government employees, mainly local law enforcement officers, graduated with bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice from San Diego State University (SDSU) this past Saturday in a ceremony that was held at the Governor H. Rex Lee Auditorium.
According to the DPS Commander of Research, Development, and Training, Tauese Vaaomala Sunia, this is the first program of its kind in the territory.
The cohort program, similar to the one offered to DOE teachers to obtain their B.Ed degrees from the University of Hawaii, lasted three years and included 14 DPS law enforcement officers, and employees of the Customs Division of Treasury and the Dept. of Human and Social Services.
The cohort, according to Tauese, was born during the tenure of former Police Commissioner Tuaolo Vaivao Manaia Fruean and the Togiola Administration who collaborated with then members of the ASG scholarship board to get the program going.
Priority for the classes went to the Department of Public Safety and the program was funded by the American Samoa Government.
One of the pre-requisites included students having to be ASG employees and meeting other requirements set forth by San Diego State University.
When asked if there will be another criminal justice cohort program to follow, Tauese said, “I truly hope so - for many reasons - and for the sake of those officers who wanted to get their degrees but didn’t get to sign up for the program in time.”
He said, “The whole purpose of this program, from my perspective, is that in the end, it will enhance the performance of our officers and improve the quality of service that our people rightfully deserve.”
Tauese continued, “We can’t go wrong with education. With the way the system works these days, technology and everything is becoming advanced and we need to keep up. I have strongly supported this program from the beginning and I would like to see it become a continuous one.”
He concluded, “This is an incentive program for those planning to pursue a degree in criminal justice, not only police officers, but also ASCC graduates who have or will get their AA degrees.”
When contacted for comments yesterday, Tuaolo said he is very proud of the fact that he contributed much to the success of the cohort graduates.
“It’s such a good feeling to know that all our efforts to push the program forward have resulted in great things, as evident in last Saturday’s graduation ceremony,” he said.
Tuaolo explained that before he took over as DPS Commissioner during the last term of the Togiola Administration, nothing like this was ever available for the cops.
He said he and Tauese worked hard to pitch the idea of getting a cohort program for DPS officers because their shared vision and goal was to get local cops trained and educated.
“A lot of people look down on our DPS officers and this program will help local cops as far as broadening their knowledge and getting them the degrees they need to become better public service officials,” Tuaolo said.
“When I was Commissioner, I encouraged all the officers to take part in the program. This was their chance to make it, to get their degrees — free of charge,” he added.
When asked if he felt like he accomplished something good, as far as pushing for the cohort program to be offered locally, Tuaolo said, “Yes. This is the first time in history that something like this has happened in the territory and I am very proud and thankful to have been part of it.”