By Cameron Cowling, Clarion Staff
The Criminal Justice Academy is a magnet program at Kennedy where students can prepare themselves for careers in all areas of criminal justice. The goal of the program are to have students graduate high school success- fully and have life and career skills that will help them succeed. CJA has currently 120-130 cadets in the program.
The CJA program started in 1990 when the Sacramento Police Department teamed up with Kennedy through a partnership with Sacramento City Unified School District to recruit new police officers and to improve community relations. There is a police officer full-time on campus to mentor and monitor the cadets.
The cadets take a specialized law course exclusive to the CJA doing things such as patrol techniques, laws of evidence and arrest, arrest control, baton training, and mock trials. The English, history, science, physical education, and law have teachers dedicated to classes for academy members. Cadets in the program receive driver’s education class that meet the SCUSD requirements, and are the only driver’s ed class in the district. Field trips are offered to cadets including Alcatraz Island, the Sacramento State Ropes Course, and The Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. Many cadets feel the academy is a second family to them. Chris Herner, lead instructor, says his favorite part of teaching at the academy is “not just teaching kids academics, but teaching them character.”