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Bellevue University Criminal Justice Professor Shares Rewards, Harsh Realities of Law Enforcement Careers

IMG-0495_Dominque Dillon

Fighting crime is not like the movies. Former police officer Dominique Dillon’s storytelling talent engages her criminal justice students in the hard-core realities of careers in law enforcement.

With nearly 20 years of experience – including detective and hostage negotiator – Dominique brings a treasure trove of graphic stories. Using humor to convey key concepts, she tells students that while rewarding, law enforcement jobs are not as glamorous as movies lead us to believe.

Dominque started her career in the Omaha Police Department (OPD). Then, she and her husband moved to Plano, Texas where she dedicated 13 years to that police force and began to raise a family. “I worked nights so I could be with our kids,” Dominque described. “I would pick them up from school, help with assignments and get to sleep for a few hours before starting my shift. My husband worked days so one of us would always be with our boys.”

Dominique experienced firsthand the changes in policing after the George Floyd murder and other high-profile events occurred in the United States. A persuasive call came from Mike Butera, former Omaha police captain and head of Bellevue University’s Criminal Justice programs—and Dominque’s former boss at OPD. Dominque added adjunct teaching to her schedule. Eventually, Mike convinced Dominique to bring her street-smart experience into Bellevue University’s classrooms full time.

After moving her family back to the Omaha area, Dominique helped launch a Criminal Justice undergraduate degree program for residential students.  While the University had an online criminal justice program, there was demand from students to be in the classroom on campus. Today, students who opt for the traditional Criminal Justice degree benefit from face-to-face learning and campus networking. In addition, Bellevue University’s accelerated Criminal Justice program is still a popular 100% online option that allows students to take one class at a time in lock step, and advance their learning with the same group of students. 

An undergraduate Bellevue University Criminal Justice degree helps students learn how to:

  • Assess criminal justice operations to effectively address crime and social problems
  • Analyze trend to address the needs of the criminal justice system
  • Examine theoretical constructs of criminal behavior to provide strategies that impact crime and social problems

Dominique’s successful policing career, combined with her education in psychology and Criminal Justice, helps prepare students with practical skills and the latest knowledge. “Criminal Justice is an entrée into a variety of fields such as policing, detective work, correctional work and more,” she said. However, Dominique also tells students that when you earn a particular bachelor’s degree you do not necessarily need to go into that field. “With a degree, you may not have to start at the bottom of any line of work —particularly if you demonstrate you can write intelligently, have strong decision-making skills and a sense of commitment to your work,” she added.

That is why Dominque has an appreciation for the Bellevue University Kirkpatrick Signature Series. “Completion of this course, while challenging for some students, demonstrates to the outside world that you are an intelligent person capable of thinking critically and creating solutions,” she commented.  “That goes a long way in every job and every organization.”

Dominique finds many criminal justice students seek advice on pursuing a graduate degree or law school. “Graduate programs and professional schools are so competitive,” she said.

Because Bellevue University is a smaller school, she said, the faculty can guide students on applications and provide recommendations, if needed.  “We encourage and support, but don’t sugar coat things,” Dominique explained. “An advanced program is another level of accountability, and it is important students know that up front.” As an instructor in the graduate Criminal Justice program, she knows expectations are higher than at the undergraduate level.

Dominique says she likes Bellevue University because it has a personal feel. She is dedicated to students and to her colleagues, as well, serving as Faculty Senate Treasurer. “Teaching isn’t always easy, but I really like helping students reach their goals,” Dominique concluded. “When you get to know your students and see them go above and beyond, it really pays off.”

Dominique Dillon is an assistant professor who teaches in the undergraduate and graduate Criminal Justice programs, as well as in related degree programs. She holds a Master of Science degree from Creighton University. Dominique can be reached at dominique.dillon@bellevue.edu.

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