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Criminology class sparks career

While many college freshmen remain undecided in their majors, few expect a single class to spark the desire to pursue a life-long career.

Alumna Brooke Prinz, ’00, first recognized her passion for law enforcement while attending a victimology class at California State University, Fresno. While Prinz found her focus of study, she never imagined working in an atmosphere like Fresno County’s Juvenile Court.

?I never really knew I wanted to go into this line of work,? Prinz said. ?I knew I wanted to help children, but I had no idea that I would end up working in an institution.?

Even though this campus does not offer criminology classes, Prinz believes high school still prepared her for her career.

“I think Fresno Christian helped me,” Prinz said. “I want the kids I work with to see they have potential. FC gave me the base I needed with God in order to work in an institution like juvenile hall.”

A juvenile corrections officer must complete 60 college units, psychological and physical examination and pass a background check. All officers must also maintain physical fitness.

According to Prinz, fights within the juvenile hall occur almost weekly. The guards must remain alert and prepared to handle the situation.

“One day I was walking in from watching a couple of minors outside and I saw two girls fighting,” Prinz said. “I yelled for a yard check (a command for the minors to lay on their stomachs), and I reached in my belt and grabbed my pepper spray.”

?I had my finger on the nozzle and was about to spray the two girls when my senior officer stepped into the fight,? Prinz said. ?Once we got the girls away from each other, we handcuffed them and sent them to their rooms.”

The correctional facility aims to lead the inmates on a path to a new and lawful life. Some return to the institution while others learn from the experience.

?I just heard from one of the kids that a girl that had been in Juvenile Hall is now attending church on a regular basis,? Prinz said. ?I love to hear stories where the kids I have talked to are doing good and living their life positively.?

Other than working full-time, Prinz also plans her wedding to Robert Duty, Sept. 27. In between wedding plans and her responsibilities as an officer, Prinz still finds ways to relax during her time outside the facility.

?Normally to relax or get less stressed, I take fun classes like Pilates,? Prinz said. ?It?s something that gets my mind focused and relaxed.”

Prinz believes working with juvenile inmates provides a chance to minister to the minors and influence their lives in a positive way.

“I’m going to major in criminology at Fresno Pacific University,” Kedric Anderson, ’08, said. “I don’t really know what field, but I think maybe something a little higher up than a cop. It’s really interesting to hear the stories of past graduates, like Brooke, who share the same interests and pursue those careers.”

Although Anderson remains unsure as to which field he will undertake, some students have a better idea of the specific field they want to work in.

?I want to become a crime scene investigator,? Tyler Combs, ?10 said. ?I think it would be fun to study criminology and forensic science.?

Prinz expresses no regret for her choice to work with minors.

“It really is rewarding to be a juvenile correctional officer,” Prinz said. “I believe it takes a strong person to do what I do. I try to get the kids to understand that there is more to life than what they see. I love my job.”

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