Averett University adds Criminal Justice Advisory Board

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DANVILLE, Va. (WDBJ7) Advisory boards are not a new concept for colleges and universities.

Professionals are often asked to provide insight about their jobs, so that school leaders can tailor college courses to meet workforce needs.

Averett University in Danville is using a new advisory board to address a growing problem in the law enforcement community.

Averett's Criminal Justice Advisory Board is focusing on changing trends in law enforcement and how the university can better prepare job candidates for the tough work they'll eventually face.

"A lot of departments in this region, not just here, but across the Commonwealth of Virginia and throughout the United States, enrollment, or recruitment is down. It's getting more and more difficult to find good, qualified candidates," says Averett's Criminal Justice Program Director, James Hodgson.

Averett University is working to address those problems with its Criminal Justice Advisory Board.

Danville Police are among the law enforcement professionals who are advising Averett leaders on the needs of their profession.

"Anything we can do to improve the quality of the applicants, we're all for it. That's one of our challenges right now is recruitment and retention," says Captain Matt Carter with Danville Police.

Averett is working to both drive its students toward a career in law enforcement, and better prepare them for handling the work itself.

"Over the last couple years we've seen some images that suggest the police, in some cases, aren't responding most effectively for calls of service," says Hodgson.

Hodgson says guidance and feedback from current law enforcement officials is critical to the future of the field.

"Curriculums, in order to remain relevant, they've got to change with the times and we're hoping to provide a little insight into what changes, if any, need to be made to existing programs and expand programs that are already in place," says Captain Carter.

The university says they hope to have these board meetings twice a year.

They also plan to form committees in Roanoke and Richmond, so they can focus on their satellite campuses as well.