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Criminal Justice to Recognize Outstanding Achievements

The College of Criminal Justice and Criminal Justice Center at Sam Houston State University will honor a former student, recognize outstanding current students, and remember those who have given their lives in the line of duty during activities associated with the college's annual honors convocation on April 27.

"The Leadership Luncheon, Sundial Ceremony and Honors Convocation are in many ways the highlight of the academic year in the College of Criminal Justice," said Richard Ward, dean of the College of Criminal Justice and director of the Criminal Justice Center.

"These events provide an opportunity for us, as an academic community, to recognize the highest standards of academic achievement and to celebrate together the accomplishments of our very best students," Ward said.

Defensor Pacem Award

Also on that day, the Criminal Justice Center's prestigious Defensor Pacem Medal will be presented to Tony Fabelo, executive director of the Texas Criminal Justice Policy Council.

The Defensor Pacem Medal is awarded annually to an individual or organization judged to have provided invaluable assistance to the center in achieving its legislative mandate, which is to educate students preparing for careers in the field of criminal justice; to provide continuing education for those already employed in the field; to provide technical assistance to criminal justice agencies; and to conduct research and demonstration projects.

Fabelo has served as the executive director of the Texas Criminal Justice Policy Council since 1991. The agency is charged to identify critical problems in the criminal justice system and recommend strategies to solve those problems, and to advise and assist the legislature in developing plans, programs and proposed legislation for improving the effectiveness of criminal justice agencies.

Fabelo has provided policy development advice in his different capacities in the agency to members of eight regular legislative sessions. His work has been critical in providing information that has been used by the legislature and state agencies to plan the major systemic adult criminal justice reform of 1993, the juvenile justice reform of 1995, the creation of an early intervention and prevention service division for children at-risk in the state's child protective services agency, and the improvements in the state's criminal history information systems.

Fabelo will be presented the Defensor Pacem Medal at the college's Leadership Luncheon, which also recognizes leaders and officers in the criminal justice student organizations.

Outstanding Alumnus Award

Also during the luncheon, the College of Criminal Justice will honor James O'Keefe, director of training for the New York City Police Department, as the recipient of the college's Outstanding Alumnus Award.

O'Keefe began his career in law enforcement in 1981 as a police officer in the Houston Police Department. During his ten years of service with HPD, he received three Chief of Police Commendations for excellent police service. In 1985, he completed his master's degree in police science and administration at Sam Houston State University, and earned the Ph.D. in criminal justice in 1989, also at SHSU.

Two years later O'Keefe became the associate director of management and budget in the New York City Transit Police Department. He was promoted to director of training for the New York City Transit Police and established an independent Transit Police Academy.

In 1995, the New York City Police Department, the Housing Police Department, and the Transit Police Department merged, and O'Keefe was promoted to director of training of the New York City Police Department. In that capacity, he currently oversees an operation that is responsible for the training of 40,200 uniform and 15,000 civilian members of the New York City Police Department, with a training budget of $26.7 million. Additionally, 2,200 traffic control agents and 3,500 school safety personnel have recently been added to the NYPD.

With a staff of 755 sworn and civilian employees, O'Keefe serves as an executive level advisor on all formal training issues of the agency to the police commissioner, first deputy police commissioner, and chief of personnel. During a recent Medal Day Ceremony, the Police Academy was awarded the New York City Police Department Unit Citation for "building a police academy characterized by excellence in virtually all training programs." The award was based in part on an innovative firearms training program which resulted in a 38 percent decline in police shootings, a 42 percent decline in gunfire fatalities, a 27 percent decline in suspects wounded, and a 32 percent reduction in shots fired.

Sundial Ceremony

Following the Leadership Luncheon, individuals will gather at the flag pole in front of the George J. Beto Criminal Justice Center to honor alumni and remember those who have died in the line of duty. The traditional "Sundial Ceremony" has taken place at this time of year since a sundial was placed in the planter at the front of the criminal justice building and dedicated in 1990. The public is invited to attend the ceremony, which begins at 1:30 p.m.

Honors Convocation

The day's activities will conclude with the annual honors convocation in Killinger Auditorium of the Criminal Justice Center. During this ceremony, scholarship recipients will be announced and donors and friends of the college will present recognition plaques to the students. The college will also recognize criminal justice students who have achieved outstanding grade point averages.

James O. Finckenauer, director of the International Center of the National Institute of Justice, will be the keynote speaker for the evening.

Finckenauer has conducted research on juvenile delinquency, juvenile justice, and organized crime, in both domestic and international contexts. He is especially interested in the legal socialization of children, and in programs that work to reduce delinquency. His interests in organized crime are in alien smuggling and transnational organized crime, particularly organized crime involving the former Soviet Union. He currently serves as president of the International Association for the Study of Organized Crime.

Finckenauer is also the author or co-author of six books, as well as numerous articles and reports. His two latest books deal with the Russian Mafia in America, and with the ideology regarding "Scared Straight" and other programs designed to reduce crime.

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SHSU Media Contact: Julia May
April 21, 2000
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