Interview with Medal of Valor Recipient and CCCK Alum Doug Schroeder

Interview with Medal of Valor Recipient and CCCK Alum Doug Schroeder

Doug Schroeder Public Safety Medal of Valor
Doug Schroeder Public Safety Medal of Valor

Chief Schroeder holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice from Central Christian College of Kansas. He is also a graduate of Northwestern University’s School of Police Staff and Command Program. In addition, he holds a master of professional studies from Fort Hays State. University.

Professionally, Chief Schroeder currently serves as Chief of Police for the Hesston Police Department in Hesston, Kansas. His areas of expertise include: leadership, organizational structure, law enforcement operations and procedures, community partnerships and crime prevention. He brings his real-world knowledge to the classes he teaches at CCCK including Criminological Theory, Ethics in Criminal Justice and Terrorism/Counterrorism.

Chief Schroeder has been nationally recognized for commitment to public safety earning the Presidential Medal of Valor in 2016. Also in 2016, he was named National Law Enforcement Officer of the Year by The Forty and Eight Veterans Organization, as well as Kansas Law Enforcement of the Year by the Kansas Rifle Association and the American Legion. He was also honored as the 2016 “Hero of the Year” by the Wichita Crime Commission.

We understand that you recently received the Public Safety Medal of Valor from President Donald Trump. Can you describe how you felt when you were presented with the medal?

I had mixed feelings, to be honest. On the one hand, I was extremely proud of my department and area first responders for performing at a high level. I may have been the one to receive the medal, but a lot of lives were saved due to the immediate and certain action of dozens of first responders. On the other hand, my heart still goes out to the families that lost loved ones and those that were severely injured and still live with the post-traumatic stress of the incident. I accepted the award with pride, but also a heavy heart.

What is the most important critical issue affecting policing today?

There are several important issues that face policing and society today. Perhaps the greatest issue is mental health. Issues in mental health are evident in the increased frequency of active killers in our country. The frequency of active killer events has dramatically increased over the past 20 years. At the root of the problem is our inability to provide adequate mental health services. It seems that police and healthcare providers don’t have the resources that are needed. The result is more people with mental illness being incarcerated and increased “self-medication” through illegal drugs. Neither of which helps the individual or society. Police officers are on the frustrating front lines of habitual violators, and the revolving jail door is a great burden on taxpayers.

Can you describe an example of how the Criminal Justice programs at Central Christian College of Kansas (CCCK) increases students’ awareness of why a task is completed a certain way?

I always enjoy law enforcement training and getting continuing education hours to maintain my law enforcement certification. I’ve spent hundreds of hours in the classroom as a law enforcement trainer and as a trainee. Training, however, focuses on “how” we complete a task. The education at CCCK goes more in-depth and asks “why” we complete a task. Students learn critical thinking skills through examining the reasons why criminal justice practitioners complete a certain task. Critical thinking will allow students to be more effective and efficient in their communities.

Do you teach a standardized technique for good people to follow after they make a bad decision? Does CCCK’s religious component impact this teaching or technique?

I think that God’s grace should impact the way that we treat others. Criminal justice is rooted in personal relationships and social concerns. There is nothing standard when considering a topic that is so dynamic. There is, however, an area of accountability that accompanies the grace that we extend to others. In CCCK’s discussion boards, we often examine this concept of grace and accountability along with other important social issues.

How much do the psychological and social aspects of why a crime occurred affect the ethics that your Criminal Justice programs cover?

Criminological theory and ethics are two of my favorite classes to teach because we examine what motivates human behavior on various levels. Often, students come away with a new perspective that challenges their original position on the subject. It is through this study and discussion with other students that we experience growth as a criminal justice practitioner, and as a Christian.

In your opinion, what is the line between determinism and free will?

Early criminologists suggested that facial features, such as cheekbones, were an accurate predictor of delinquency and criminal conduct. We know that this is obviously not true, but the line between determinism and free will isn’t as fine as what we would sometimes like to think it is. For the most part, I believe that we have free will to make decisions. There is literature to support a genetic link to predispose an individual to certain traits. Students get into some great discussions about nature vs. nurture. Are we born a certain way or are our decisions a result of our surroundings? To what extent do our surroundings influence our decisions?

Is there anything else that you would like to say to prospective students reading this blog?

There is a lot to consider when thinking about completing a college degree, but it’s a tremendous investment in yourself and your family. My fellow instructors at CCCK are some of the best in their fields, yet highly approachable and compassionate about educating future criminal justice leaders. It will likely be one of the most rewarding decisions that a prospective student could make in their lifetime.

Photo of Doug Schroeder receiving medal of valor from President Trump -  Credit: Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS.
President Donald Trump presents the Public Safety Medal of Valor to Chief Douglas Schroeder, courtesy of Officer.com