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Success in Today’s Competitive Law Enforcement Career & How To Do Inmate Rehabilitation with Dr John Paitakes



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On this episode of Heroic Investing host, Gary Pinkerton is joined by Dr. John Paitakes, who has spent 50+ years working in criminal justice, and an Adjunct Professor at Rider University. Dr. Paitakes worked as a probation officer had a second career as a Criminal Justice Professor at Seton Hall University. Currently, he is in his second term as a member of the New Jersey State Parole Board. He continues to write articles on criminal justice issues and make appearances online, on radio, and on television programs as a criminal justice expert.

Announcer 0:04
Welcome to the heroic investing show. As first responders we risk our lives every day our financial security is under attack. Our pensions are in a state of emergency. A single on duty incident can alter or erase our earning potential instantly and forever. We are the heroes of society. We are self reliant and we need to take care of our own financial future. The heroic investing show is our toolkit of business and investing tactics on our mission to financial freedom.

Gary Pinkerton 0:39
Welcome to the heroic investing show, a podcast for first responders, members, the military, veterans, and anyone looking to improve their financial future and gain some freedom with their time. We teach America’s heroes how to build passive income, build their startup business and safely grow wealth through real estate and other alternative investments. We have current and prior First Responders put protections systems and a team in place to help them build a life where they can focus on their passion, that service or product that they’re uniquely gifted to share with others, making the world a better place for all of us. My name is Gary Pinkerton and I co host this show with Jason Hartman. This is Episode 218 Episode 218. Our guest for today is dr. john partakers. JOHN has more than 40 years of experience in the criminal justice system, working as Assistant Chief Probation Officer of the Somerset County, New Jersey probation department, and he is also a past president of the New Jersey criminal justice Educators Association. And he’s a member of the New Jersey parole advisory board. He is has become a professor and taught for many years currently teaching criminal justice at rider University and he has also taught at Seton Hall and record universities here in New Jersey as well as teaching at the at his little New Jersey police academy. He’s author of a book called 50 years working in criminal justice that his students read. During our show, he has some great insights about how to break into the highly competitive career field of law enforcement. He talks a lot about New Jersey, but I believe his message is is useful is applicable across the country. We also get into his thoughts after a very long career in criminal justice, about how that we can set up inmates to be more successful, being rehabilitated back into society, which of course, is the goal for all but the most wicked of those that are inmates. So I think you’ll really enjoy this it went a little bit long. So without further ado, here’s my guest, Dr. JOHN pittacus. Well, hello Roca investors Welcome back. We have a great show lined up for you today. I know often recently here we’ve had active duty members and military retired members of the military. That of course is my Benton. My bringing friends and colleagues and people have similar interests. However we’ve started and throughout, we’ve tried to stay consistent with having the voice from first responders, as well as members of law enforcement. And that is the focus for our talk today. Today we’re going to talk with dr. john pittacus. And Dr. britannicus is has taught at both everything he has been basically everywhere in my current stomping grounds. So he’s been he’s taught at Rutgers University he taught for I think he said 20 years at Seton Hall, and has taught at police academies here in our local area, and lives not too far from me. So it’s a true pleasure to have a local friend on the show. Dr. partagez, thank you for joining us.

Dr. John Paitakes 3:45
Oh, my pleasure. Glad to be there.

Gary Pinkerton 3:48
Wonderful. So you’re also author of a great book from a couple of years ago called 50 years working in criminal justice. So I’ll just use that title is kind of an opening discussion. So you had 50 years in that world Can you take us back to the you know, a little bit before that and what what got you into criminal justice?

Dr. John Paitakes 4:05
Yeah, well, actually, you know, it wasn’t planned. My father had a restaurant and cocktail lounge. I worked through high school, part time in college, and then even after college for about six months, and then he sold the business and I was unemployed. And somebody said, I think they’re hiring in the court system in probation. There’s a temporary opening. So I took the position and they said, well look until you take the civil service exam. We’re only going to keep you temporary. If you don’t pass it, we’ll have to let you go. Well, as time went on, I found it very interesting dealing with, you know, police officers, juvenile delinquents, adult offenders, and all the people in criminal justice, I pass the exam and that turned out to be over a 25 year career in the Somerset County court system and I worked my way up to Assistant Chief Probation Officer before I retired from there. So that’s how I got in actually wasn’t planned, but Yeah, I found it interesting. And it spurred, you know, full career in my first career anyway,

Gary Pinkerton 5:07
that’s fantastic. So when did you get the PhD and pursue higher education?

Dr. John Paitakes 5:11
Well, I had the undergraduate and then I got a Master’s working part time while I was working in probation. And the federal government funded part of that, under this law enforcement education plan, which that came about in the 70s, where they put out a lot of money trying to encourage people working in criminal justice, to become more educated. So that was a good opportunity. Got the masters and I also was teaching at a community college part time one night a week. And I found that interesting, and I thought, well, Jesus a second career, teaching full time at a university might really be interesting. So usually, the University prefers a PhD. So then I went on my own evenings, part time. getting a PhD took me several years, but that’s kind of what motivated me and then it helped me once I retired. From probation to secure a full time position at Seton Hall University. That’s how that happened

Gary Pinkerton 6:06
at Seton Hall. Okay, right. Right. And what did you focus on? I mean, you said 20 years, right? That’s a long time teaching incremental justice. That’s awesome. What What did you focus on one topic? Was it an entire, like a major or

Dr. John Paitakes 6:23
it was major. And now again, I was the new person, then there was existing staff there that had been there for years. So when you’re a new faculty member, in the university, they’ll pick your areas of expertise, but you’ll also get assigned a lot of different courses that perhaps you hadn’t taught. So I really initially focused on community corrections, which is probation and parole, and then corrections, which was the jails and prisons. That was a lot of my background. But again, I taught a lot of other courses like criminology, behavioral sciences,

Dr. John Paitakes 6:56
principles of research. So again, any course You know, perhaps other states didn’t want to teach the new person got it. But the good thing was that, you know, it gave me a broad based background, you know, and I created a couple courses to like a careers course for students interested in careers in criminal justice. And also juvenile delinquency courses and human resource courses. So over a period of time, I ended up teaching 20 different courses over the 20 years, you know, but again, it was good, it was good experience. And it helped me out a lot.

Gary Pinkerton 7:35
So what trends Did you see over that, that 20 year period of time, either in students who are interested or in the field itself of employment coming out of out of college?

Dr. John Paitakes 7:46
Yeah. Okay. Well, in the field itself, you know, you take law enforcement, and, you know, I’ve been around for a while, so I remember how law enforcement was in the 60s and 70s. That was a very tumultuous time. We had a lot of demonstrations, the Vietnam War. Presidential assassination. Martin Luther King assassinated and so there were a lot of demonstrations. And when law enforcement came out, in many occasions, they came out in force, they came out with water hoses, dogs, you know, a lot of physical force or whatever. We’ve changed that a lot over a period of time when we realized that that wasn’t the best way to handle a lot of that. Kent State University, a number of people got killed. That was when they called in the National Guard. And, you know, it turned into a really wild scene. But anyway, if you fast forward to today, look at NYPD in New York City, there’s demonstrations all the time. You see very few arrests. All right. Police Training has increased significantly. The educational levels of police officers has increased, much more professionalized. So when there’s demonstrations in New York, take a look at them next time they show them on TV and they petition off the crowds. They bring in the horses. They maintain control for the most part, very few arrests. So in law enforcement, I’ve seen that trend. We’ve come a long way. I think, you know, I mean, there’s still a lot of things to do or whatever, but the training has increased at the academies. The educational level of police officers, especially in New Jersey, has increased significantly. And so today to become a police officer in New Jersey, very competitive, even with a college degree, you have a lot of applicants, you know, and of course, the paying benefits are very good also. Yeah.

Gary Pinkerton 9:28
Right. That might be one of the drivers. But

Dr. John Paitakes 9:30
well, it is it is. But you know, and then the other fields that are unfamiliar with is probation and parole, you know, and again, historically, when I started, the salary levels were very low. But over a period of time through negotiations, they came up and requires a college degree. And so the probation and parole are good in between careers, like if you don’t really want to be a police officer, in the, you know, in the field, or on the road, probation or parole deals with convicted people monitoring their behavior. It’s really more of a counseling kind of thing, although you do have the powers of arrest over your people. So that area has also become more professionalized and very competitive, you know. So that’s improved considerably. And and then fast forward to corrections. The other part of the system, the jails and prisons, well, what’s happening now as compared to the 60s and 70s, that was a big lockup period, right. And so strict penalties, strong drug laws, we filled up all the jails and prisons, building more prisons. Now, what are we trying to do? We’re reducing the population in the prisons, okay, with alternative programs and realizing that a longer term in in a prison unless somebody is very dangerous or aggressive, you know, lessens their chances for rehabilitation in many cases, you know, so we’re doing a lot more reentry and you know, vocational training, educational training in the institutions and help them prepare for when they come out. So that’s been a big change probably in the last 10 years. Yeah. You know, I was reflecting as you were

Gary Pinkerton 11:06
talking about that. And, you know, and my comment that you know that higher compensation or better benefits, you know, brings more competition. It absolutely does. But it also brings higher quality individuals, right. And it’s, you know, I was reflecting that we used to use brutality, both in the prisons and in demonstrations and lots of arrests, as you mentioned, it’s harder to do that do what we’re currently doing today. I believe, you know, it’s, it’s, it takes more patience. It takes somebody with a lot more control and more training. It’s just like being a parent, right? It’s much easier to say, you know, when you tell your child to do something, and they ask why you just say because I said, like, that’s the easy way out. Same thing when I was in command of my submarine. You know, I just, if I wanted to be lazy or needed it done fast, I just said, because that’s the way it is. Right? And that’s harder. I’m sorry. That’s easier. Yeah, and but it, it results in long term negative results, right that you have to dig your way back out of. And I agree with you that, by and large My impression is that the police forces in correction or on the streets have done a tremendous job of getting rid of that reputation, also actually earning it, you know, and not having the incidents. But it’s it doesn’t go without challenge, right. We we have had, you know, some shootings here and there that have been questioned. We were talking about that a little bit off air, if you wouldn’t mind kind of go into your thoughts again, about what the public sees and what potentially is, you know, really going on in the background?

Dr. John Paitakes 12:39
Well, yeah, you know, I don’t want to call it fake news. I call it facts and fictions. And, you know, there are certain themes out there that I clearly need clarification. And so one is like, you know, once a criminal, always a criminal. No, that’s not true. I’ve interviewed thousands of people in prison and those who are really motivated and take advantage of every program, you can get your high school diploma, you can even get some college courses if you’re well behaved and you qualify while in prison, okay, there’s counseling programs, etc. So, if you take advantage of all of that, and certainly not all of them do, you know, but you can turn it around. So that’s not completely true. You know, as far as that goes, and obviously a lot depends on the motivation of the person who is incarcerated. You know, I mean, you know, jails and prisons, even some are newer than others are not nice places to be or whatever for the most part, but if you’re there and I tell inmates the same thing, take advantage of every single program and try and make the best out of a bad situation okay. probation and parole or a slap on the wrist now that’s another misconception and again, I worked in both those fields a long time and I’ve heard it from the public sometime I’ll that’s nothing that they’re on probation. Well, my best way to explain that is if you give them the resources and you know reasonable case loads, yes. We do have better than a 50% rehabilitation there. So in other words, the average case was maybe 40 offenders, okay, and you’ll have time to monitor them. But if they give you a caseload of 100, or 150, which some jurisdictions do, then it’s going to be very difficult to have any meaningful impact on them, you know. So again, when we give them the resources, they do become more effective. And again, even the people coming into those fields have become more educated and better trained. So you know, it’s another, you know, misconception. Another one is, you know, please use brutality on a regular basis. Now, that’s not true. You know, and again, if the only source you get is on the news at night, a five minute thing of showing an officer using physical restraint, you say, Oh, geez, that looks like brutality. You know, but you don’t know what happened beforehand. Maybe the person resisted arrest or push the officer or, you know, tried to leave the saints. Now, granted, there are a few bad apples in any in any discipline in any field, okay? And so you try and weed them out as soon as you can, or the best bet is to screen the best people coming in. And as you and I talked before in New Jersey, and I can’t speak for every state, but in New Jersey, it’s very competitive to be a police officer. Okay? You have a lot of people applying anytime there’s an opening, right? The salary levels are very good. The average salary average of a police officer in New Jersey is 95,000 a year. Okay. That’s not including benefits and retirement packages and health plans, etc, which is also very good. But you know, and of course, we can afford to be selective. Okay. So when I tell students and a lot of my students are interested in, you know, criminal justice, I said, Well, look, you got to have more than just the college degree now, okay? Because there’s hundreds or thousands of other students with college degrees. What else can you add to your resume? Do you speak another language Do you have great technical and computer skills? Do you have some further certifications, you know, and so that’s, that’s what’s happening and I see it, you know, in, you know, my students that are really sincere about it, and you know, the ones that are getting hired. So that’s how you professionalize for so again, I’m very optimistic about, you know, law enforcement. And I think overall, you know, they do a really good job, considering the scrutiny that they’re under today, which is another issue, right? Everybody’s out there with cameras and cell phones, right?

Gary Pinkerton 16:32
That’s exactly what I was gonna say is that, you know, I believe that one of the big changes is that police officers and everyone in public service as well as the rest of us are starting and maybe not my generation but my son’s generations. They they grew up assuming that there’s somebody watching somewhere and somebody recorded somewhere right and and that control that that provides better behavior. You know, when on my ship, when we would monitor things like reactor plants startups or people driving in and out of Port, you know, important places where we have a monitor sitting around, they’re performing better than they are in the middle of the night when they think no one’s watching, right, and so with cameras, you know, installed department cameras, you know, inside police cars, I’m sure that helps. Oh, yeah. And, and it doesn’t have to come from a perspective that they’re always watching us kind of a negative thing. We should just I, you know, I tell people, you should just assume, like my kids already grew up in that generation already has, you know, the feeling of just assume somebody is watching it, and someday it’s going to get on the news, right? Hidden said, If you live your life that way with with somebody always watching. It kind of holds you accountable to your own morals to not kind of slip up I believe.

Dr. John Paitakes 17:45
Yeah. And what I tell them is, look, you know, if you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing, don’t worry about it. And even if they aren’t taking pictures, you know, and in fact, like you said, a lot of times it goes to their benefit, you know, that the camera was on, you know, a number of years ago, you might Cool when the state police were, you know, considered doing a lot of profiling this and that they put cameras on all the state police cars. Okay, that went on for a long number of years. And you know what they found? That actually in many cases, and I think over the majority of them, it really defended the police officer, but it because it showed that the person resisted arrest or went for a weapon or whatever, and it was all on camera. Oh, you know, so no, I think, you know, we agree on that.

Gary Pinkerton 18:25
Yeah, I think we’re we’re certainly in agreement. And you know, and so I believe all of the trends are positive that we see with, with law enforcement now maybe not on on pensions and the strength of pensions or the strength of the fund underlying them or something like that. But I’m, I’m proud to say that I’m friends with many, many law enforcement officers and firefighters here in the new york new jersey area, and I think we just kind of gravitate towards each other. I got gained a lot of friends in the tunnel to towers race for attending after several years and Just incredible people, patriots just like those of us in military uniform. So you know, I think those those the cream rises to the crop. But I also believe that they’re being attracted, just like you said, by benefits, which makes it works. Right. It’s putting the right people in the right. Well,

Dr. John Paitakes 19:18
yes, yeah, that helps. But you know, it’s what I said to it’s like a calling, you know, I mean, when you don’t do any of those criminal justice fields, or even the firefighters or whatever, most of these people work more than 3540 hours a day, you know, I’m saying they’re doing a lot of extra time or whatever that they’re not getting paid for. So when people say, Oh, they make a lot of money, whatever. I know, a lot of my friends working in law enforcement and criminal justice positions, most of them work much more than the 40 hours, they could be out on a social function at a uniform and something happens, boom, they jump in, you know. So, you know, maybe people don’t see enough of that. You certainly hear about a lot of the negative stuff. But every day in New York City, they’re jumping in the Hudson River, saving somebody rescuing somebody from a car accident, etc, you know, so?

Gary Pinkerton 20:04
Yeah. So I think it’s I think it’s in alignment is what I would say with with the efforts that they that the officers put out. And it hasn’t always been that way. And and that has resulted in a lot of good people saying, Listen, I love the service. It’s a calling to me, but I can’t feed my family or I can’t provide the lifestyle that I want for my family. Same thing happened to the military for years. Our service officers and our enlisted force are pretty well paid nowadays. Yeah, military. And so that’s not the reason why people leave if they leave, at least not right now. Gosh, so you wrote you wrote a great book, I’m not sure we’ve covered too much of the content of it, or there’s some key points on there that you wonder,

Dr. John Paitakes 20:41
Well, you know, part of the book was biographical several chapters, just showing how my, you know, career moved along or whatever, figuring that that would be helpful to students in criminal justice, and maybe they can mirror some of that if they’d like. And then I did stuff on, you know, changes in the system that we spoke about somewhat, and then the best part was how to best Prepare for it. You know, there’s different ways people get hired some through civil service, some for direct hire, some for political appointments. But if you don’t fit any of those categories, like you know many of us didn’t in the past, then you have to do all those extra kinds of things. I give examples of joining organizations that relate to that volunteering, doing in internships, you know, form a mentor with somebody, you know, whether it’s your college professor in criminal justice or local chief of police. So it gives some good tips for people interested in getting into the field. You know, and then the last appendix is a list of well over 100 different criminal justice careers that people may not be aware of, you know, I think it’d be helpful to you know, those interested in the field.

Gary Pinkerton 21:48
So how do they find it, just I mean, available on Amazon,

Dr. John Paitakes 21:51
it’s on amazon.com or Barnes and Noble carries it. And not under bookstore but you can get it online. It’s the title is just 50 years in criminal justice, you know, and it’ll show up at Stony Brook with that title. Wonderful.

Gary Pinkerton 22:07
How can they contact you? If If looking for more information?

Dr. John Paitakes 22:11
You have my, my email address, because I think, yeah, if anybody wants to pursue anything further, and I even give some guest talks, you know, some time, you know, to different organizations and so time permitting, I’m happy to do that, you know.

Gary Pinkerton 22:28
Okay, well, dr. john partagez, thank you so much for joining us. And if you would like to reach further out to him, it’s pa i t at OPT online dotnet. Pa it at OPT online dotnet. And, Doc, thanks so much for joining us.

Dr. John Paitakes 22:45
Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Announcer 22:49
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