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Fall grad Louis Hutchinson progresses toward a career in law enforcement

Louis Hutchinson will earn his associate degree in applied study in law enforcement technology from Ohio University this fall. He is also pursuing bachelors’ degrees in criminal justice and communication studies, all on the Ohio University Lancaster campus, and plans to graduate with those degrees in the spring.

Hutchinson started his college career in the social work program at Columbus State Community College but transferred to OHIO in his second year. His mother, who attended Ohio University and took classes at both the Athens campus and the Lancaster campus, encouraged him to check out OHIO Lancaster.

At OHIO Lancaster, Hutchinson serves as the president of LET Us Help, the student service organization for the Law Enforcement Technology program, and he serves as the sergeant at arms for the campus chapter of Alpha Phi Omega. 

Hutchinson said being a part of LET Us Help refined his ethic of service and community engagement.

“I've always wanted to help people,” Hutchinson said. "It's what I've wanted to do my entire life. Anytime I see somebody in need, I will go out of my way to go and help them.

What are your next steps or plans for the future? 
I'm keeping my options as open as I possibly can. I'm mostly looking into local law enforcement agencies, but I'm also considering being a state trooper as well. l'm looking into some other areas too, like federal law enforcement.

Why did you choose to pursue an associate degree in Law Enforcement Technology at OHIO Lancaster?
My interest in law enforcement started at a very young age. I knew I wanted to do something in law enforcement, but I really didn't know exactly what I wanted to do. And it really started in my hometown of Upper Arlington. I met a student resource officer that ended up being one of my close friends for many years and he was a former SWAT officer and a detective for Fairfield County. He kind of got me thinking about a career in law enforcement. I went on a couple of ride-alongs. After I graduated high school, I knew that I still wanted to do law enforcement. I was trying to figure out ways I could still go into that particular area. 

What was your ah-ha moment at Ohio University—that point where you said to yourself, “I’ve got this!”?
I did struggle a lot, but when I got to the program here at OHIO Lancaster, everything just kind of clicked, and it all kind of made sense.

I was trying to go into law enforcement from the social work perspective of understanding how people operate and learning how to help people from different individual groups. And although I love the knowledge that I got from that, I felt like the criminal justice and law enforcement technology program was way more up my alley and it was more directly related to what I would be learning at the police academy and what I would also be learning going forward into my career. I knew that when I started going into this program, it would give me every resource that I needed to be able to be successful in the long run. So that's really what attracted me to this program.

What were some of your favorite courses?
I was really a huge fan of Professor James Stevens' police operations course. Even though it was online, I really felt very engaged in the course and it helped me learn about police behaviors and interactions, as well as different types of equipment that law enforcement officers use.

Another class that I felt really helped me out and that really interested me was Sonja Rawn’s forensic science class. That was a really great, really interesting class and I really earned learned a great deal of information from her class. 

Also, any class that you take with Lisa Taylor will be enjoyable.

Who were your favorite professors and how did they make an impact on your life? 
Lisa Taylor, Sonja Rawn and James Stephens

What was the hardest hill you had to climb (not counting Jeff Hill) at OHIO? And how did you overcome challenges or obstacles in your path?
It really takes a lot of time management skills and I'm not going to lie to you, I have struggled here and there with my time management skills. It's not an easy thing to juggle (working, commuting and school). I'm a part of two honor societies, two student organizations, and three different degree programs. Plus, I work anywhere from as little as eight hours a week to as many as 60 hours a week. It's tough and it's a challenge, and it's a really hard thing to juggle. But I would say if you can manage your time well there is absolutely nothing that you can't do, and I've just somehow managed to learn how to do that. 

Probably the hardest part was slowly starting to make the transition into the criminal justice major. I really like the more core criminal justice classes, but socially it's a really hard time to be doing this type of major. It's a really hard time to want to be a cop, and it's a really hard time to be a cop. I know that along my path I've gotten a lot of backlash from students saying, “oh, I can't believe that you're doing this. Why would you want to do this?” But at the same time there's also been a pretty good support group that I have within law enforcement and within the faculty that's here and some of the students that are here that are saying “no, you're doing the right thing. Keep going. We need people like you, especially in times like this, that are going out there to do a difficult job. So please don't give up.” And that has really been helpful.

How has your OHIO education prepared you for a career in law enforcement?
The program has really pushed me in the right direction in terms of allowing me to be a more attractive candidate as opposed to people who maybe didn't do the degree program. Having the associate degree before earning the bachelor's degree is obviously very helpful as well and makes you more attractive to people who are looking to hire you.

What tips/advice do you have for other OHIO students who are interested in studying law enforcement or criminal justice? 
Follow your heart. Try to stay away from outside forces and people that may be saying, “this isn't a good idea. You shouldn't do it.” At the same time, you really want to be open to advice. Take as much advice as you can, but don't listen to the critics. Stick with the program. It's a great program and just look towards the future because that's really the thing that's kept me motivated. 

If you're thinking about being a cop and you're thinking about growing yourself in that career field, do this degree program, the associate degree program, the bachelor's program, and go forward from there. 

November 22, 2022
Staff reports