Students at Mid-Maine Technical Center will be able to study criminal justice for the first time this fall with administrators citing increased demand prompting the program.

The program will teach students about specific criminal justice related skills, but is also intended to help students learn about the career path while still in high school.

The program at the Waterville-based regional technical center, which serves students from Lawrence, Messalonskee, Waterville and Winslow high schools, will be open to juniors and seniors and can be studied for two years.

“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to introduce young people to the criminal justice system — particularly law enforcement — at the high school level,” said Waterville Police Chief Joseph Massey.

Massey said he’s seen the interest in the area. The department already gets requests from high school students who are interested in ride-alongs and the Citizens’ Police Academy, and Massey said when he teaches at Thomas College, he hears students say they have had an interest in law enforcement since junior high or high school.

While people need to be 21 years old to become police officers, director of Mid-Maine Technical Center Peter Hallen said the program helps foster an interest in a law enforcement career path and can help students sort out early if this is something they are interested in pursuing as a career. There are also other careers under the umbrella of criminal justice, like corrections and security.

“We obviously would consider it a success if students continued their studies at Husson or Thomas and went on to finish the academy and become police officers,” he said. “But we want it to be more exploratory, too.”

He said part of the exploration could also mean learning early that criminal justice isn’t something that they are interested in.

The new criminal justice program will replace the digital graphics program, which is being eliminated. Hallen said the graphics program morphed over the years from graphics communication with screen printing to more of a digital course with more design focus but drew low enrollment even after changes.

“I don’t know what’s attributing to the drop in enrollment, but there’s been a pretty steady decrease,” said Hallen. “You try to salvage programs when you can by updating them or changing them, but we had done that already and it wasn’t taking.”

When looking to start a new program, Hallen said he usually talks to employers in the community to see what kind of skills they are looking for.

The idea of criminal justice programming had been tossed around for years, and Hallen said there was support for the program from area police chiefs and the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office.

In February, the school’s governance board approved the new program. They still need to get approval from the Department of Education, but Hallen said he doesn’t anticipate any problems with their application.

There will not be a firearms component to the program training, said Hallen.

“That was the one thing the school board asked,” he said.

The instructor for the new program, Steven MacCallum, was approved by the Waterville School Board earlier this month. MacCallum is sergeant and supervisor of the patrol division for the Lewiston Police Department, where he has held different positions within the department for the past 25 years, according to a press release from the technical center.

In 1998, MacCallum was promoted to detective where he worked on investigations in homicide, suicide, sexual assaults and robberies, and special assignments in child abuse, white collar/fraud and narcotics investigations. He was also appointed to the FBI’s joint terrorism task force and among other cases worked on the Boston Marathon bombing investigation. He has also served as an adjunct professor of criminal justice at Andover College and Southern Maine Community College.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252

[email protected]


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