Education degree enhances ASU grad’s law enforcement career

As the critical nature of police-community relations dominates headlines, Arizona State University graduate Arielle Miller believes her education training is making her a better law enforcement officer. Miller was named 2013 “Officer of the Year” by the Maricopa Police Department; the first rookie to receive the honor. Miller earned her educational studies degree from ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, and she ties that degree into nearly every aspect of her work.

Miller said teaching and law enforcement are professional areas of expertise that complement each other. Both require engaging an audience, while at the same time staying nimble to be able to respond effectively to situations as they change.

“I’ve been amazed at how often I’ve been able to use my education training from ASU in my role as a police officer,” Miller said. “As an educator, one approach to teaching was to find ways to engage my students. In law enforcement, I’ve found that engaging the public has helped defuse situations and find fair resolutions to conflicts.

“As an educator, flexibility is needed in order to meet the needs of students, both individually and collectively," Miller said. "In law enforcement, flexibility in how to handle a fluid situation has often helped to defuse potentially volatile situations.”

Miller discovered her affinity for law enforcement while completing her educational studies degree, which gave her the option to “build her own track” in deciding how she wanted to work with children, youth and adults outside the traditional classroom.

“I did volunteer work with the Scottsdale Police Department and fell in love with the culture, the people and the role played in our community,” she said

Police officers and educators are also alike in that both represent authority figures and role models to children, Miller noted. This offers people in both professions the opportunity to lay the groundwork for building a positive relationship that can last a lifetime.

“Most adults can name one or several teachers that had a lasting influence on their development,” Miller said. “With law enforcement officers, children can learn to respect their authority and to see by example how that authority is used rather than abused.”

Miller has worked with several community-based law enforcement programs where her teaching skills have been a boon. Based on her volunteer experience, the rookie officer was asked to help Maricopa Police Department launch Shop with a Cop, which pairs officers with underprivileged children during the holidays. She also is involved with its Explorers program, where kids work with the department to learn about the role it plays in the community.

For the last 18 months she has served as a field training officer for the department, a role which allows her to provide on-the-job training and support to officers in training who just finished their work with the academy. She says her courses at Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College prepared her for this responsibility by giving her a foundation of skills to work with people who have varied learning styles and to help others progress in all areas necessary for success.

“My educational studies coursework, including my internship experience, provided me with valuable tools to feel more confident in my dealings with the Maricopa community, the schools and the juvenile population,” Miller said. “Even though I was at Maricopa High School as an enforcement officer, my education background allowed me to interact and communicate as a peer with the faculty and as a teacher with the students.”

Miller agrees that, based on own experience, she encourages students to think outside the classroom when considering an education degree.

“Whether you proceed to be a teacher or not, the training you receive from Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College will serve you in all aspects of life and prove to be an asset in ways you cannot even contemplate right now,” she said.