Tracy Evans had already been working in law enforcement for 20 years before he enrolled in the Law Enforcement Technology program at Ohio University Chillicothe in 2019. When he began work on his associate degree he was not working full-time and was able to devote himself to full-time coursework. That was before he ran for and was elected Pike County Sherriff in 2020. When Evans assumed office in January 2021 he chose to drop back to part-time enrollment in the program, which is part of University College at Ohio University, to better focus on his new elected position. He hopes to return to full-time coursework and finish his degree as he continues to settle into his role as sheriff.
Evans started his law enforcement career with the Waverly Police Department in 1999 and worked his way up to the rank of detective sergeant. In 2009 he moved to the Pike County Sheriff’s office where he worked as an investigator. He has also served as an investigator in the Pike County Prosecutor’s Office.
He credits his grandfather, whose photo he proudly displays behind his desk, as the inspiration for his own career in law enforcement. “My grandfather was a Columbus police officer and also worked in the Franklin County Sheriff’s department,” Evans said. “He really inspired me.”
Evans said earning his associate degree in Law Enforcement Technology represents an opportunity to better himself and his community. During his last job search he found that many law enforcement agencies want their officers to have an associate degree and some agencies are now requiring a bachelor’s degree as well. That discovery inspired him to go back to school and work on his associate degree. Once he completes his associate degree he plans to complete his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at Ohio University where he will be able to apply experiential credit earned on the job toward his degree.
Though Evans says he sometimes wishes he had pursued his degree/s earlier in his career, he notes that his experience on the job has served him well in the Law Enforcement Technology program at Ohio University. “My experience in law enforcement has given me a leg up in some of the classes,” he said, noting that he is able to contribute valuable perspectives to class discussions and help other students along the way.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic Evans has been attending classes online like other students, but he looks forward to returning to the classroom in person. “I really like the classroom environment,” he said. “I’m a people person. Online is working well, but I’d rather be in person.”
He appreciates the opportunity to learn from law enforcement practitioners in like Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Teaford from the Ohio State Highway Patrol, who taught Evans' police operations course, and James McKean, a retired police chief and assistant professor of law enforcement who taught an ethics course that resonated with Evans. Evans said he was also grateful for the opportunity to learn about other cultures and different ways of thinking through a sociology course taught by Marguerite Hernandez.