In 1974, there were barely a handful of criminal justice degree programs in colleges across the nation. And at the time, Alvernia’s Sister Pacelli was the only woman in the nation to head a college criminal justice program. But in the first year, a large group of male students, mostly police officers who came to be known as “Pacelli’s boys,” joined the forward-thinking program, virtually making Alvernia co-ed overnight.
Though Sister Pacelli died in 2010, her legacy lives on through many projects she took an active roll in, including the ever-popular criminal justice program.
Graduates with degrees in criminal justice (CJ) go on to work in a long list of fields, including corrections, courts, social services, and of course — law enforcement. In order to become a municipal police officer in the state of Pennsylvania, recruits must pass Act 120 training. So it’s a very good thing that the Reading Police Academy is close to Alvernia. In fact, the Academy is located on Alvernia’s campus, and Alvernia CJ students have the option of attending the Reading Police Academy to obtain Municipal Police Officer Certification (Act 120) as part of their four-year program at Alvernia.
“We have five senior CJ students who began their Police Academy training in July and will be in training at the Academy until December,” says Dr. Ed Hartung, chair of Alvernia’s criminal justice department. A certified Act 120 instructor, Hartung works closely with the Reading Police Academy to make sure students get the most out of the program. “In addition to the Act 120 certification, students get credits toward their major, and can complete their degree in one more semester,” explains Hartung.
Students are eligible to apply for the Academy during their junior year in order to attend during the first semester of their senior year. This allows recruits to obtain Act 120 certification as part of their four-year degree without extended time or expense.
To be accepted into an Act 120 program, applicants must pass physical fitness tests, a criminal background check, and a psychological exam. It’s an academically and physically rigorous 820-hour basic training program completed in 20 weeks, and designed to provide students with the initial skills necessary to begin their law enforcement careers.
The Reading Police Academy is located on the campus of Alvernia University, Francis Hall, 400 Saint Bernardine Street Reading, Pennsylvania. The Academy has been certified since 1976 by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Municipal Police Officers’ Education and Training Commission to teach the basic police officer curriculum. The Reading Police Academy is owned by the City of Reading and operated by the Reading Police Department.