It’s Back to the Classroom for San Jose Criminal Justice: Corrections Program Director Ron Gordon
When Ron Gordon graduated with his Bachelor of Science degree in Administration of Justice from San Jose State University in 1980, he had no way of knowing his career path would eventually lead to back to a college campus.
But after 31 years in law enforcement, during which Gordon served as a patrol officer, field supervisor, detective, sergeant, and watch commander with the Milpitas Police Department, he’s back in the classroom as a Carrington College instructor and program director of the Criminal Justice: Corrections program in San Jose.
“I guess I shouldn’t be surprised,” says Gordon. “Even when I was with the police department, teaching was often at the core of what I did. As an officer, I taught police science for two years with the Milpitas school district. I trained, supervised, and mentored new recruits and taught driver’s training to department staff. When I wasn’t at work, I taught civilian traffic school for ten years and volunteered with the American Red Cross for 30 years as a CPR and first aid instructor.”
Gordon is clearly at home in a classroom. After retiring from law enforcement in 2012, he was hired as an Administration of Justice instructor at Heald College in Hayward, teaching such classes as Investigations, Criminology, Criminal and Civil Law, and Law Enforcement Procedures. He joined the staff at Carrington in 2017.
“When I came to Carrington as an instructor, criminal justice was a certificate program,” Gordon recalls. “As it evolved into a degree program, with a concentration in corrections, I applied for the program director position—and here I am!”
Gordon says he enjoys the challenge of teaching the diverse group of students that his program attracts.
“There is no such thing as a ‘typical student’, and I like that,” says Gordon. “In our current classes, our students range in age from 18 to 44. They represent such a wide variety of backgrounds, interests, and ambitions. One holds a B.A. in a different discipline and is looking to make a career change. Some are coming straight from high school, while others are enrolling after years in the military. The one thing they have in common is an ambition to pursue a career in some area of law enforcement.”
Carrington’s Criminal Justice: Corrections program, offered at five California campuses, educates and trains students in all aspects of criminal law—everything from firearm safety, defensive tactics, and physical agility training to weaponless defense, arrest techniques, CPR, first aid, and evidence collection and preservation.
Gordon says he believes his decades in law enforcement makes him a more effective teacher.
“When we talk in class about conducting hostage negotiations or handling homicide or sexual assault investigations, I’m able to share my own real-life experience and first-hand knowledge because I’ve been there. We’re able to have discussions that move beyond academic theory.”
Gordon says his goal is to provide students with a realistic overview of what law enforcement is—and what it isn’t.
“While criminal justice can be an incredibly rewarding career for some people, it’s not for everyone,” Gordon says. “I’ve interviewed some prospective students who have seen a few cop movies and are intrigued, but it’s a much more layered and challenging career than many people understand. That’s why we have a formal interview process to assess a student’s motivations and mindset as we consider them for the program. Our commitment is to enroll and educate students we believe can be true assets to the communities they’ll eventually serve.”