Balancing the Courageous Warrior

by Thomas Dworak, Sgt. (Ret.), Virtus Group
There has been much discussion recently about the use of the “warrior” moniker in the criminal justice industry. For many years trainers have distinguished those in the criminal justice profession as warriors.  There are many who believe “warrior” should be changed to “guardian.”  Changing a handle, however, is nothing but window dressing and the goal is not to soften a proud profession or become more politically correct. The problem is how warriorship is taught.  

Learn More About CJ DegreesI have been involved in martial arts most of my life. I have studied the history of Bushido, the way of the warrior, and have a deep respect for the Bushido code.  I have written about the Bushido code and how it applies to law enforcement and corrections officers, as well. When I teach at the  law enforcement academy, I provide insight to the recruits about being warriors and how to have balance in their lives.
The Samurai were among the greatest of warriors, but there is also a little known side to their life.  They were artists, writers, poets and artisans. There was an intellectual and cultural side to balance the violence.  What is missing in the making of our current warriors? There is very little balance to the mind.
There are trainers who talk of making warriors, teaching techniques and mindset, and going home at the end of every shift. Many recruits come out of the academy thinking everyone wants to kill them and every mistake they make will get them killed or sued.  While the profession needs tactics and mindset, this overlooks the total embodiment of being a warrior.

One opportunity to give balance to the warrior is to obtain an online degree in criminal justice. Education is the tool of creativity.  That creativity will provide new outlets and technologies to the law enforcement and correctional professions.
While only 8 percent of police departments and sheriff's departments require a college degree at the entry level, many are requiring some college or military experience for promotional opportunities.  Earning your criminal justice degree online demonstrates your dedication to the occupation and your own professional development.

While only 8 percent of police departments and sheriff's departments require a college degree at the entry level, many are requiring some college or military experience for promotional opportunities.

There are several ways to specialize with your criminal justice degree.  Depending on your career choice you can earn your criminal justice degree in law enforcement or corrections.  Additionally there are specialty areas in homeland security, criminal investigation, crime scene technology and forensics.
 In the criminal justice profession, the way to grow is through education.  Education teaches the history of what was before and examines what worked and what did not.  A criminal justice education will also teach valuable critical thinking and decision making qualities which are necessary in law enforcement and corrections.

Sir Robert Peel wrote about the benefits of well-educated officers. More recently, The Wickersham Commission and two Presidential Commissions on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice recommended that higher education is a means to better professional policing.  College-educated law enforcement and corrections officers use less force and have fewer disciplinary problems.  Criminal justice professionals who attain a college degree also have better job performance and an increased opportunity for advancement.

Changing a label will not change a culture or develop new business practices in the field of criminal justice.  Prospective or experienced law enforcement and corrections officers with a passion to sharpen their saw with higher education will frame future generations of criminal justice professionals.  Be part of the tipping point by obtaining an online degree in criminal justice.  Be courageous, take the next step and find the balance that is missing. 

Sgt. Thomas Dworak served the Wilmette, Il. Police Department for 31 years in a wide variety of assignments. Now retired, Sgt. Dworak is a consultant for The Virtus Group ( providing adaptive leadership training to law enforcement and corrections officers through the Growing Courage leadership program.