Criminal Justice Degree Helps Alum Make a Difference
Jesse Leeman, a 2015 alumnus of Saint Leo University, explains how his criminal justice degree is paying off with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.
The 25-year-old native of Lewiston, Me. now lives in St. Petersburg, Fla. and is a proud graduate of Saint Leo University. He is engaged and proudly has a male cat, Boris. He has one brother, Robert, who is a captain in the U.S. Army.
"The price to attend Saint Leo was definitely better than most of the schools up north," he says. "I didn't want to stay in the cold, either, and I was looking for some new opportunities."
Having the ability to compete in athletics was another selling point for him.
"I was able to come and play lacrosse," he says. "I talked with head coach Brad Jorgensen, and he gave me a tour of the campus and athletics facility. I liked it a lot."
Upon enrolling in 2011, he decided on criminal justice as his major.
"I thought it would be a good fit for me," he says of his decision to earn an undergraduate criminal justice degree. "I didn't want a desk job, and this would allow me to do something different every day in my work."
He says a class on serial killers was pretty unique. His senior seminar class with Dr. Brian McNulty also stood out.
"That was a very helpful class, especially since Dr. McNulty was a captain in the Haines City Police Department at the time."
Leeman got into lacrosse at age 12 and played during his high school years. At Saint Leo, he was lucky enough to play as a goalie all four years for the men's lacrosse team.
"Even though we had our ups and downs as a team, it was overall a great experience," he says. "It kept me straight in school and helped me maintain a proper schedule to be successful. I still have friends from that team like Joe May."
In addition to lacrosse, he participated in a leadership program that he says was very valuable to his future career success. He lived on campus his first two years and credits this to helping him make more connections than he might have otherwise.
Saint Leo's six core values – excellence, respect, community, responsible stewardship, personal development and integrity - are all very relevant to Leeman's work, he says.
"I can apply all of these to my job each day in order for me to be a good officer."
He believes the practical nature of his coursework was second-to-none and would highly recommend the university to others looking to earn a criminal justice degree or pursue any discipline.
"Definitely consider Saint Leo due to the knowledge you will receive from the professors who have prior experience from working on the job in whatever field you choose," he says.
He wrapped up the bachelor's degree program in 2015.
Along with his criminal justice degree, Leeman was able to begin building his professional resume while still enrolled at Saint Leo.
"I was able to complete a program with the police academy during my senior year," he says. "I also worked for the athletics department and helped out with basketball, volleyball and soccer events."
His first official role within criminal justice was as a patrol officer with the Haines City Police Department. His professor, Dr. McNulty, helped him land this position. After a year and a half there, he transitioned to the Clearwater Police Department.
"I was first part of the Community Problem Response Team where we took a more proactive response to certain issues."
He is now a detective assisting the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office with its Habitual Offender Monitoring Enforcement (HOME) program.
"My job involves doing curfew checks by making sure prolific offenders with multiple offenses are home on time. I also have to keep an eye on them through their electronic monitors and check on juveniles."
He is proud to say that his unit has already made a positive impact on the community in its early existence.
"We've been able to really help deter auto thefts and burglaries."
In terms of his goals, he plans to continue working hard and hopes to move into some leadership roles in the future.
Photo credit: The photograph included in this blog article was provided by Jesse Leeman and is used with permission.