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Awards Day To Honor College’s Past, Future

April 20, 2012
SHSU Media Contact: Beth Kuhles

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The College of Criminal Justice will honor its outstanding students, alumni, friends and fallen colleagues during the 2012 Awards Day on Thursday (April 26).

The Sundial Ceremony, which honors law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty, will be held at 1:30 p.m. outside the north entrance to the Criminal Justice Center. The event, which is open to the public, includes a flag raising ceremony by SHSU Army ROTC as well as a presentation of roses in honor of the deceased.

That evening, 74 students will receive special recognitions and scholarships for the 2012-13 academic year during the Criminal Justice Honors Convocation. A total of 47 scholarships will be awarded, totaling $76,700, and Nancy Kratzer, an SHSU alumna and retired deputy special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Dallas, will be the convocation speaker.

The celebration will also include a Criminal Justice Leadership Luncheon to recognize 2012 Outstanding Alumnus, Gary L. Johnson, former executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice; the 2012 Defensor Pacem Medal Recipients, retired League City police chief Michael Jez and Alvin police chief Michael Merkel; and leaders of the six criminal justice student organizations, including Alpha Phi Sigma, Lambda Alpha Epsilon, the National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice, The Society of Forensic Science, Phi Alpha Delta and the Crime Victims’ Service Alliance.

This year’s “Outstanding Alumnus,” Johnson, graduated from SHSU with a bachelor’s degree in criminology and corrections in 1983.

He began as a corrections officer at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in 1973, rising to the top spot in the agency in 2001. During his tenure with TDCJ, he also served as director of the institutional division; director for Region VI; and senior warden of the Ferguson Unit, Clemens Unit and Hospital Galveston. He also served in various positions in the agency and worked at the Eastham, Jester and Ferguson units.

Following his retirement in 2004, Johnson worked an associate and consultant with MGT of America and the GEO Group.

Throughout his career, Johnson participated in specialized programs, including the Governor’s Executive Development Program through the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin; the Governor’s Senior Management Development Program; the Wardens’ Peer Training at Sam Houston State University; the FBI Hostage Negotiation/Tactical Concepts for Prison Administrators; the American Corrections Association Hostage Negotiation and Disturbance Management; and the National Institute of Corrections at National Academy of Corrections, Correctional Management.

The Defensor Pacem Award will be presented to police leaders in Southeast Texas, who have assisted the College of Criminal Justice in internship opportunities for police cadets from Zhejiang Police College and in professional programs at the Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas.

Jez, who is an instructor at LEMIT, recently retired as police chief for League City. He previously served as police chief in Alvin, Webster and Denton, and as city manager for Webster and Denton. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy; Southern Police Institute; and Southwestern Law Enforcement Institute, Command Management College; and holds licenses as a master peace officer, firearms instructor and instructor.

Merkel has worked for the Alvin Police Department since 1977, working his way up the ranks as patrol officer, detective, patrol and detective sergeant, captain of operations and support services, and finally as chief in 1991. He also serves as an adjunct instructor at Alvin Community College and the College of the Mainland and has taught at SHSU and the Houston Fire Department Arson Academy. He holds TCLEOSE certificates in master peace officer, instructor and crime prevention inspector and sits on many professional boards.

The convocation speaker will be Kratzer, a 1979 alumna who retired from the Department of Homeland Security in 2010 to open her own private investigations firm. At SHSU, she served in the first federal internship offered by the College of Criminal Justice, working for the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare. She later transferred to U.S. Customs Service, which merged with the Department of Homeland Security.

The Dallas Office of Homeland Security Investigations oversees 200 federal agents in 128 counties in Texas and Oklahoma. Over the years, Kratzer has been involved in cases involving all aspects of the agency’s mission, including financial/money laundering; human smuggling and trafficking; document, identify and benefit fraud; contraband smuggling; crimes against children; counter-proliferation investigations; commercial fraud; worksite enforcement; and transnational gangs.




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