Chris Derrick knows that crime is pervasive. He knows he can’t prevent every crime or rescue every victim. But as far as it lies within his power, he wants to help.
“I know there’s only so much I can do, but I’m very excited about the opportunity to make a difference,” he said.
Chris began honing that passion for justice at ACU, where he studied criminal justice in the sociology department. He’s continuing his training at University of North Texas, where he’ll graduate with a master’s in criminal justice in May of 2012.
He is also doing an internship with the U.S. Marshals office in Dallas and hopes to join the organization after graduation.
“It’s been really interesting,” he said. “I feel like I’ve learned a lot, expanded on what I learned at ACU.”
The different faces of fighting crime
Each school has taught him a different yet essential part of criminal justice, he says. While ACU focused more on the social theories that lie at the root of criminal activity, UNT focuses on law, theory and working with practice crime scenes. Chris finds both approaches rewarding.
“I love my crime scene reconstruction class; I really like the hands-on classes,” he said. “I’d love to be a detective for a while.”
But the social theories he learned at ACU have impacted his approach to criminal justice as well.
“I had some great teachers in the sociology department,” he said. “They exposed me to a lot.”
U.S. Marshals office internship
His excellent educational background and interest in hands-on activity led him to his internship with the U.S. Marshals office in Dallas. During the program, he helped transport prisoners to court and accompanied deputies as they served subpoenas, as well as processing paperwork and data.
And while Chris dreams of someday working in the Marshals office as a full-time employee, the experience he’s gotten will serve him well at the state and local levels, too.
“This is like the federal level of a local sheriff’s office but with many more responsibilities,” he explained. “Plus, I get to make a lot of contacts and meet a lot of people.”
Chris is familiar with the experience of interning with law enforcement. At ACU, he did a practicum for one of his criminal justice classes through the Abilene Police Department. He worked with community services and the Criminal Investigation Division, as well as the youth division of the department. He also got to do ride-alongs with several of the officers.
“I saw a lot of domestic abuse. There was also alcohol abuse, people getting high,” he said. “I started to learn that it’s really law enforcement’s job to keep society in line.”
Protecting those in need
After he graduates, Chris plans to either work for local law enforcement or join the military, combining his education with practical, hands-on experiences.
“It’ll be good to have both the degree and the street or military experience,” he said.
And he’s also prepared to brush up on the latest technological advances that help law enforcement identify and track down perpetrators.
“Increasingly, technology has such a huge impact on law enforcement,” he said.
Chris is aware that his chosen profession isn’t always going to be easy, but he believes it’s worth doing. For him, law enforcement isn’t just about punching a time card or logging hours. It’s his way of contributing to society and protecting those who need help most.
“It’s always been more than just a paycheck. I really have a passion for this,” he said.