Risks and rewards

Although the recent deaths of Ferris alumni in criminal justice show tragic realities, students talk about the benefits of the field

Two Ferris alumni who served in law enforcement have been killed in the line of duty this year within three months of each other.

Trevor Slot was a police officer from Walker and graduated from the criminal justice program in 1993. Slot died on Oct. 13 due to injuries he sustained as he was in the process of placing stop sticks on I-96 in Grand Rapids and was hit by the suspects’ car. Slot was laid to rest in Grand Rapids on Friday.

Another Ferris alumnus who was a graduate of Ferris’ criminal justice program, Ryan McCandless, a police officer in Rapid City, S.D., was shot and killed during a traffic stop in August.

Although such tragedies can result from working in law enforcement and the criminal justice field, two Ferris criminal justice students are looking forward to pursuing their careers in criminal justice despite the dangers and risks.

Trevin Bernat, a junior in criminal justice from Elise, is pursuing the law enforcement track of the field. Bernat said he is choosing this path because he likes being there for others.

“I believe being a police officer will be exciting and every situation I come across will be different,” Bernat said.

Bernat said the deaths of McCandless and slot is sad and tragic. He said he thinks about the families of the fallen officers and hopes they are doing well.

“The loss of a loved one is never easy. I know I’m pursuing a dangerous career, but I pray God will be with me and keep me safe for my family’s sake,” Bernat said.

Charles Garden, a junior in criminal justice from Shelby Township, said he became interested in the field when he took a class in high school about law enforcement.

“I think it sucks that those two died; however, I also know they were aware of the dangers of the job,” Garden said.

Garden is on the generalist track and is planning on attending law school. He is also aware of the variety of dangers in the field.

“You never know when something might happen, it is the danger of the job,” Garden said.

Although there are many dangers, Bernat and Garden believe the benefits outweigh the dangers that are inevitable in the field.

“It will be very rewarding to know I’m stopping and preventing crime and that I’m helping maintain a safe place for people to live,” Bernat said.

Bernat said he has learned of some potential dangers in his classes.

“In my ethics class, we have learned that even simple traffic stops can turn into deadly shoot situations, like shootouts,” said Bernat.

Garden said his personal belief is the job should not be done for just the benefits and that people should enjoy their work.

“I like being there for others and lending a helping hand,” said Bernat.