Bondurant and Program Coordinator Cavit Cooley have plenty
of chances to mentor students at Mercer. The Criminal Justice
program ranks as MCCC's fourth largest - and growing. Enrollment
has doubled since 2003, with close to 500 students majoring
in either Law Enforcement (407) or Corrections (73) as of
regularly enlivens classroom discussions with comic touches
and real world experiences from her time on the force in Plainsboro.
She notes that she shares her professional background with
students from day one. "I do that for two reasons. As
a woman teaching criminal justice, it establishes my credibility
and expertise. As a retired police chief who started out as
a patrol officer, it lets students know it is possible to
rise through the ranks. That's especially encouraging for
women in a male-dominated field."
In preparing her students for the demanding role of police
officer, Bondurant strives to get them to think - not to rely
solely on what they have read in textbooks, but to use common
sense approaches that will work. "In some situations,
you just have to know how to calm things down and not allow
them to escalate," she says. "The greatest asset
for a police officer is being a strong communicator. Good
relations with the community are essential to good policing."
Bondurant also encourages students to build resumes that include
community service and employment in related fields. "It's
very helpful in the hiring process," she observes.
approach is clearly working for students. Sophomore Christopher
Forero graduates from Mercer in December with his five-year
plan firmly in place and a resume that includes work as a
security officer. He is continuing his education at SUNY Potsdam
this spring, where he will join ROTC and then spend time in
the military. Ultimately, he plans to work at the federal
level, either with the Drug Enforcement Administration or
the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Forero says Bondurant is one of those professors who keeps
the material interesting. "She interacts with students
and uses current events. She draws on stories from her time
on the force. Her personal advice on my future plans has been
surprisingly, Bondurant herself has prepared well throughout
her career. After earning her undergraduate degree in Physical
Education from East Stroudsburg University, she completed
her master's degree in Police Administration from Jersey City
University in 1990 and attended the FBI Academy in 2000, an
11-week program that focused on executive management training.
The classes she teaches at Mercer - Intro to Criminal Justice,
Criminology and Police Administration - reflect her broad
background. She even teaches courses online.
While some towns require only Police Academy training for
hiring, the field has become increasingly competitive, according
to Bondurant. "Municipalities vary greatly. Some departments
require an associate degree; some want a bachelor's degree.
You definitely need a degree to be considered for promotions.
We talk about all of that."
Bondurant points out the value of the program's diverse roster
of adjunct instructors. Some come from the corrections field,
while others are current or retired officers, as well as prosecution
and defense lawyers.
"It's a very dynamic field. The landscape is always changing.
We do a lot to keep the curriculum current," Bondurant
says. Pointing to car searches as an example, she notes, "Court
cases change the way things can be done. Our students need
to know any changes in procedures."
Bondurant serves as co-advisor of the Criminal Justice Club
with Professor Cooley. Currently the club has 80 members.
Activities include ride-alongs with area police departments
and a variety of outings. This fall the group has toured Eastern
State Prison in Rahway, the Franklin Institute's CSI display
in Philadelphia and a firearms range. A trip to the 9/11 Memorial
in New York City is planned for spring 2012.
more about the Criminal Justice program here.