Civil Service as a Profession

Civil Service as a Profession

These are trying times for law enforcement in the United States. And yet it's more important than ever to have a well-trained police force to protect our citizens and serve our communities.

The University of Miami invited Captain John Barkley, of the Naples Police Department, and current student in the Master of Public Administration (MPA) program, to share his thoughts in a recent webinar, Civil Service as a Profession. Here are some highlights.

Gaining the trust of the communities they serve

The first question asked of Capt. Barkley was: In the next few years, what are the changes that you believe will help improve law enforcement in America? "It's important that we gain the trust of the communities that we serve," he said. This is accomplished through transparency and building relationships with community members. In Naples, this has included events to foster positive interactions with officers, such as "Coffee with a Cop," attending neighborhood meetings, and interactive police citizen academies.

These are "a great, hands-on way for people to experience everything the officers go through," said Capt. Barkley, who oversees his department's Administrative Services Bureau and is the commander of the agency's SWAT team. Citizens learn about police officers' training, equipment, and how they often have to make split-second decisions. The citizen academies are also intended to answer questions and correct misinformation.

Capt. Barkley said it's not unusual for people to approach him on the street and thank him for his service. "As much controversy is out there, there are a lot of people who realize that the job of law enforcement is very difficult and we're facing a lot of challenges ourselves."

How higher education advances careers

Next, Capt. Barkley was asked: Why should police officers view law enforcement as a profession, rather than a job? He responded by explaining how police are constantly being trained, starting with the police academy, and then getting additional training in whatever bureau they work for.

He views police work as a profession "because you're constantly reassessing your make sure you have the training and equipment to be able to handle all these new types of crimes that are occurring now." Due to technology, cyber crimes and identity fraud are on the rise, for example.

He went on to explain how higher education plays a role in advancing police officers' careers. "It improves your writing and analytical skills and teaches you how to conduct in-depth research...It also prepares officers to face very complex situations and challenges." And, he added, many law enforcement agencies require an advanced degree to apply for supervisory positions.

Capt. Barkley himself didn't even consider being a supervisor until almost halfway through his career, he said. One of his supervisors pulled him aside and said, "It's time for you to get out of your comfort zone. You need to be in a position where you can make changes to the agency. People respect you as a leader, and now you need to get promoted in order to help steer the direction of the agency."

Applicable skills you can put to work immediately

For Capt. Barkley, who grew up in Miami, UOnline's MPA program was an ideal fit, given the U's reputation as well as his career goals and schedule. One of the greatest benefits of the program is being able to utilize what he's learning immediately, he said. "You can apply these skills to where you work right now."

His message to anyone looking to serve their community and the nation is to get involved in civic government. With a UOnline MPA degree, you will be armed with, the skill sets you need to make a positive difference in the world, he said. "You can be the agent of change."

UOnline offers several different options to prepare graduates to break into or grow in the field of accounting. To find out more, speak with an enrollment advisor at 800-411-2290, or visit the site for, more information.