Criminal Justice majors in Professor Donna Stuccio’s Law Enforcement Process (CRJ 226) course had the opportunity to learn from the voices of experience when they were joined in class by four retired police officers with more than 100 years of combined service. “Their collective wisdom was extremely valuable to my students as they work to learn about how police officers move through the challenges of the profession of law enforcement and the impact their careers had on them,” said Professor Stuccio.
The four retired officers who spent time with the class were:
- Loretta Arlotta, 21 years with the Syracuse Police Department
- Gail Barella, 32 years with the Geddes Police Department
- Tracey Johnson, 26 years with the Syracuse Police Department
- Becky Thompson, 32 years with the Syracuse Police Department
They spoke with the class as a whole, then broke up into smaller groups for question and answer sessions. “I wanted students to gather information about their careers, their decision to become an officer and the impact of that decision on their lives,” said Professor Stuccio.
Tracey Johnson shared with students her story of enrolling at OCC after graduating from Westhill High School. “I came for accounting because I was very good at math. When I got here I saw posters all over the place. They were looking for minorities and women to be police officers. I decided to do it. I saw what was happening here and it looked interesting.”
After earning a degree in Business Administration Johnson pursued a career in law enforcement and became a Syracuse Police Officer. During her 26 year tenure she regularly patrolled the west side of the city and specialized in interviewing children who had been involved in traumatic events. Johnson shared numerous stories with students from her career. She also explained to them the value of communicating with people. “90 percent of police work is talking people down. People are elevated and irritated. It’s better to listen to them and have them listen to you.”
“I hope that my students grasped how incredibly dedicated and brave these women were and still are,” said Professor Stuccio who is also a former Syracuse, North Syracuse and Cicero police officer. “The sacrifices they made for their community can never be underestimated. Their incredible willingness to share their lives with students is part of their continued commitment to our community.”