HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Getting students out of the classroom and meeting real law enforcement professionals was the goal of the 2014 Criminal Justice Conference at William Carey's Tradition Campus Saturday afternoon.
The K-9 unit from the Harrison County Sheriff's Office, along with several other law enforcement agencies took part in the 2014 Criminal Justice Conference to show students what their jobs are really like instead of just reading about it in a textbook.
"These activities really drive the information home. These students will have an opportunity to not only hear about search warrants and learn about the mechanics of executing a search warrant, but now they get to see the equipment. They get to talk to the people and they get to talk to the people and they get to truly understand the reality of the job," said Dr. Karla Pope the director of William Carey's Criminal Justice Department.
Giving the students a feel for the tools of the trade was the Gulfport Police Department's SWAT team. Students got to see a variety of guns and the gear used to provide safety. They got to pick up a ballistic blanket used during rifle fire and check out a ballistic tactical vest used for personal body protection. For criminal justice major Archie Wallace, the conference has given him a whole new appreciation for those in law enforcement.
"Right now we just got through with the recent event that Gulfport Police Department with the SWAT team and just looking at how they do in their career and their lifestyle. It's really hard. So it's not as easy as what you would think it would be," said Wallace.
The students say the conference also shed light on drug problems in the U.S.
"How easily meth is being made and distributed in the United States and we've had one of the specialists of methamphetamine and it was very enlightening for us. He showed you how quickly and how fast a meth lab can be made and destroyed," said criminal justice major Sean Bigler.
Roughly 50 criminal justice students representing eight colleges in Mississippi attended the two-day conference. The event was hosted by both MGCCC and William Carey. Organizers say the conference also serves as a networking tool for students and law enforcement agencies.