Criminal Justice Grad Encourages Law Enforcement Professionals to Never Stop Learning

In law enforcement, knowledge is as vital as justice itself. University of Cincinnati (UC) graduate Jamie Schoonover couples his dedication and excellence in enforcing the law with an endless drive to be a more competent, capable, and dedicated peace officer.

UC designed its two criminal justice degree programs, both offered entirely online, to meet the needs of people like Jamie, no matter what line of work they’re in — whether it’s a civilian role, such as a dispatcher or crime analyst, serving in the courts, working in the corrections system or pursuing another law enforcement job.

As a captain within the Hamilton County, Ohio, Sheriff’s Department, Jamie’s path exemplifies how education can elevate a law enforcement professional’s career and improve their service to the community.

Jamie Schoonover in full uniform
UC alum and adjunct professor Captain Jamie Schoonover earned his master’s degree in criminal justice in 2017.

Navigating Responsibilities

Jamie’s worked for the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department since 2001 when he was a 20-year-old finishing a degree in computer systems at an Ohio university.

Jamie’s role as the Department Support Operations Commander means he oversees and supports all patrol operations. The position is responsible for overseeing traffic safety services, drone operations, officer training, marine patrol services on the Ohio River, and the bomb squad. Jamie is also responsible for several back-office functions, such as ensuring deputies have the necessary uniforms and equipment, garage services, fleet management, and other areas.

Jamie’s role requires in-depth knowledge of law enforcement operations, effective resource coordination, and excellent communication skills as he interacts with his deputies, other law enforcement agencies, and the public.

Benefits of Higher Education for Peace Officers

Though Jamie’s journey in law enforcement began in 2001, what he’s done since then to earn a master’s in criminal justice in 2017 and help other professionals truly distinguishes him.

Despite Jamie’s extensive law enforcement experience, pursuing a degree was a belief in better criminal justice career prospects — and today, that belief has become a reality. As he thinks back on what happened over two decades of working in law enforcement, Jamie says his decision to get his master’s has made a lasting impact on his career. “The degree gave me an advantage over others in regard to testing and interviewing,” he says. “As my knowledge grew, I continued competitively moving up in rank.”

The School Experience Informs the Present

Balancing full-time work at the Sheriff’s Department with studying for a master’s degree and managing personal responsibilities was no walk-in-the-park accomplishment for Jamie.

When Jamie was entering the program, UC offered Graduate Incentive Awards to a local group called the Hamilton County Police Association, which consists of numerous police agencies operating within Hamilton County. (There currently are 56 different agencies in Hamilton County alone.) “My agency was a member of the association, so I was eligible to apply for the scholarship,” Jamie says.

The scholarship eased some of the burden of working and attending college full-time. To pay it forward, Jamie partnered with UC to offer a Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office Graduate Incentive Award and Scholarship. To be eligible, the employee must be a certified peace officer and a supervisor in the agency. “We’ve been able to send ten supervisors to the graduate program so far,” he says.

When Jamie obtained his degree from UC, the master’s degree was an on-campus, in-person program. Reflecting on his experiences, Jamie says he was initially surprised by the amount of reading required for the master’s program. “Being out of college for 15 years didn’t help either, and I became overwhelmed at first,” he says.

Jamie credits the unwavering support from UC professors and fellow students with helping him overcome the early challenges. Jamie grew professionally and personally as he spent more time in the program, developing writing, organization, and communication skills.

Jamie Schoonover headshot
Jamie is enthusiastic about the work he does on behalf of Hamilton County residents in the Sheriff’s Department and the benefits of higher education.

100% Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs

Jamie appreciates knowing both the master’s and bachelor’s programs are fully available online today and says earning a degree online may better meet the scheduling needs of law enforcement workers. He says acquiring his master’s broadened his knowledge and opened up opportunities for greater responsibilities at work.

UC’s programs emphasize the thinking, research, and communication skills needed to effectively lead and manage a diverse range of law enforcement operations. For Jamie, the advantage of higher education became particularly clear as he moved through various roles during his 22-year career. “My education helped me stand out from colleagues and played a role in the promotions I received,” he says.

From Criminal Justice Student to Esteemed Educator

Jamie’s UC journey continued after graduation. Today, he is an adjunct faculty member within UC’s School of Criminal Justice and teaches the Policing in America course. He’s also taught Legal Issues in Corrections and Special Topics in Policing. His mentoring of students is enriched by his in-class experiences.

Jamie says students in the criminal justice programs greatly benefit from networking opportunities, just like he did when he studied at UC. Through discussion boards and online interactions, students from myriad backgrounds, including police officers and Drug Enforcement Administration agents, connect while sharing insights and experiences and discussing what they learn.

Jamie encourages students to contact him for advice or any questions.  As a law enforcement professional and educator, his unique knowledge helps students develop a real-world understanding of the challenges and responsibilities that come with being a peace officer.

Family Focused

When he’s not teaching and working in law enforcement, Jamie is a dedicated family man. He and his wife of 20 years have two daughters — one, a high school senior taking classes at UC through Ohio’s College Credit Plus program, and the other, a freshman, who is a passionate golfer.

Jamie’s long-time passion for technology extends beyond the requirements of his day job and into his free time. He enjoys building and repairing computers and exploring the world of 3D printing.

Jamie’s commitments to his co-workers, students, and family, and to the value of professional development inspire everyone around him. His career experience and UC journey reveal the positive impact of education and the commitment to thrive in law enforcement.

Explore UC Online’s Criminal Justice Programs

Jamie says UC’s criminal justice bachelor’s and master’s programs are ideal for anyone passionate about the criminal justice field. If one of these programs sounds like the right choice for you, take the next step to learn more. Contact an Enrollment Services Advisor by completing our info-request form, or call a UC representative at (866) 463-7187 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern, Monday through Friday.

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