Tuesday, September 14, 2021
Opportunity and equity is the central focus of the 2030 Strategic Impact Plan and the lens through which the College will examine its success in all areas. In October 2020, former Valencia College President Sandy Shugart commissioned equity initiatives in four key areas to evaluate our current processes and develop recommendations for equity-minded practices. In an effort to ensure you have the most updated information on the progress, findings and recommendations of the teams involved in this work, this new Opportunity and Equity series is published in The Grove on a bi-weekly basis. This week’s update introduces our new Faculty Fellow for Equitable and Just Policing, Lauren Sykes.
The working theory that leads the work of the Equitable and Just Policing Education and Training Task Force is “Public Safety is what the community experiences.”
Last fall, the Equitable and Just Policing Education and Training Task Force convened to review and assess the education and training at Valencia College’s School of Public Safety (SPS) to identify deficits in the curriculum and make recommendations to change the occupational culture of policing in Central Florida with a goal to identify an equitable and just education and training strategy.
The task force offered several key recommendations in three areas: law enforcement academy training, community collaboration and partnerships, and public safety workforce. These recommendations are the foundation for a strategy that require scholarship and innovation in teaching and learning at the School of Public Safety (SPS).
To support equity through the SPS and help Valencia College achieve its mission of opportunity and equity, the task force recommended that SPS designate an ambassador to oversee and guide the development and implementation of its proposed equitable and just policing framework for the College’s Equity Plan.
Lauren Sykes, professor, criminal justice technology and West Campus Criminal Justice program chair, has been designated as the faculty fellow for equitable and just policing.
With more than 30 years of experience in criminal justice fields, including corrections, community corrections, children’s mental health and juvenile delinquency, and a stint as a violent crime/intelligence analyst for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Lauren is exceptionally qualified to serve in this capacity.
As the faculty fellow for equitable and just policing, Lauren is assisting with the development of training and education strategy in the areas of law enforcement academy training and specialized training for regional law enforcement and corrections officers; deeper connections to local high school public safety programs; enhanced connections and engagement between criminal justice A.S. students at the College and the SPS law enforcement academy program; community collaboration and partnerships; and promoting officer wellness and trauma-informed programs. She will serve as the faculty fellow for the fall and spring semesters on partial reassignment.
In addition to her years of criminal justice experience, Lauren also participated in trainings to receive certifications in Racial Intelligence Training and Engagement (RITE) at SPS, Adverse Childhood Experiences certification through the Peace and Justice Institute, as well as Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity: SEED 1 and SEED 2.
To date, Lauren has begun to articulate and disseminate innovative best practices she has learned into faculty and instructional development, teaching and learning by creating the following courses in Canvas at the SPS.
- RITE: Racial Intelligence Training and Engagement
- PACEs: Positive and Adverse Childhood Experiences
Lauren will also assist SPS, across all campuses, with the development and implementation of strategies to expand communities of practice for full- and part-time faculty and instructors. This will include strategic learning initiatives and the development of extraordinary course and curricular experiences.
Through her leadership and service as a faculty fellow for equitable and just policing at SPS, Lauren will enjoy deep development and the opportunity to renew herself professionally through scholarship and innovation in teaching and learning while investing in Valencia’s efforts to expand opportunity and make systemic change in the occupational culture of policing in Central Florida.