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Criminal justice students benefit from Reading Police Academy certification

Date: 8/17/2012

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. 

>> Read more about Alvernia’s criminal justice administration major

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.

  • History: Established as a private four-year liberal arts college in 1958, Alvernia celebrated its 50th year by being awarded university status in 2008.
  • Heritage: Founded by the Bernardine Sisters, a Catholic religious order, the university embraces the Franciscan core values of service, humility, collegiality, contemplation and peacemaking.
  • Motto: “To Learn, To Love, To Serve”
  • Campus: The main campus in Reading is 121 acres, with two satellite campuses in Philadelphia and Pottsville (Schuylkill County).
  • Location: Our residential campus is situated three miles from center-city Reading, in the scenic Blue Mountain area of Eastern Pennsylvania.
  • Enrollment: 3,000 students attend Alvernia including 1,500 traditional undergraduates, 600 continuing education students, and 780 graduate students. Over 77% of first-year students live on campus.
  • Faculty: Our professors are accomplished scholars, experts in their fields, and supportive mentors. The student-to-faculty ratio is 14:1. Most classes are 20 students or fewer.
  • Athletics: NCAA Division III, member of the Commonwealth Conference of the Middle Atlantic States Athletic Corporation and member of Eastern College Athletic Conference, 8 men’s and 10 women’s intercollegiate sports.