German police visit ‘Comparative criminal justice’ classroom

Students in one of FIU’s global learning courses, Comparative Criminal Justice Systems, recently had an opportunity to meet with a group of police officers from Germany.  The officers, who are enrolled in the German National Police Academy Sergeants and Lieutenants Academy, were visiting Miami as part of a cultural exchange trip organized by the International Police Association.  Clarence “Ed” Stephens, a Miami Dade Police sergeant and FIU criminal justice instructor facilitated the visit with the support of the Office of Global Learning.

Students in the 8 AM class broke up into groups of about 10 students and 2 officers to discuss the similarities and differences between policing in Germany and the United States.

“This was a great experience for criminal justice students,” said Ruben Yanes, one student in the class.  “The officers were very open to each of our questions.”

german police

“Comparative Criminal Justice” students pose with two German police officers (center in blue and green shirts).

The officers and students discussed the two-and-a-half year police academy, where human rights are emphasized in the curriculum.  Police also prioritize building community rapport, using  bicycle patrol units frequently to achieve this goal.

Current law enforcement priorities include cracking down on terrorists and radicalized individuals, combating the increased prevalence of crystal meth, monitoring Italian and Russian mafia groups, and actively suppressing the re-emergence of neo-Nazi activity.

About a third of the German police force is female, though female officers are not placed together as partners.

Professor Stephens hopes to continue this exchange each year.  Additionally, plans are in the works to expand this type of experience to more students, including through the use of digital video exchanges.

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