Criminal Justice Abroad

For 11 days in April, students — participants in WilmU’s student-run Criminal Justice Association (CJA) and independent study courses in the field — and a few retired local law enforcement personnel joined a bus-and-ferry tour of Scotland and Ireland.

O’Brien’s Tower overlooking the Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland.

The group visited such cultural highlights as the Blarney Castle, the Book of Kells at Trinity College, the Cliffs of Moher and the Skellig Experience in Ireland; a Loch Ness Cruise, Edinburgh Castle, and the Blair Athol Distillery in Scotland; and the Titanic Belfast attraction in Northern Ireland, says Lauren Foraker, the CJA’s social media specialist, who documented the trip.

“The goal was to immerse Criminal Justice students and CJA members in the culture of Ireland and Scotland,” says Foraker, who graduated from WilmU in January with a Bachelor of Science in Communications, “as well as foster the importance of networking and cultivating positive relationships with law enforcement across the pond.”

To that end, the Taste of Scotland & Ireland tour also included meetings with representatives of the countries’ police forces. In planning the trip, Assistant Professor Kirk Trate of WilmU’s College of Social and Behavioral Sciences reached out to his fellow members in the FBI National Academy Associates, the National Association of Chiefs of Police, and the International Police Association for their recommended contacts in the area.

“We’ve formed good relationships with them on this and previous trips,” says Trate, “and it’s a great contrast for students to see how they work.”

For instance, in 2013 Scotland consolidated its 11 police departments and 22,000 police personnel into one national agency — the Police Service of Scotland — for its 5.4 million residents. The merger followed the historical examples of the Garda Síochána (the Republic of Ireland’s national police force) and the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

“Can you even imagine that working here in the states?” Trate asks. “It’s a concept that’s foreign to us, where we have state, county and municipal police across 18,000 agencies nationwide.”