Climbing the Ladder
As a 30-year veteran of the Greenwich, CT police department, James Heavey has put in his time walking the beat. Heavey has also put in his time in the Bellevue University virtual classroom, earning a bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice in 2009 and following that up with a Master of Public Administration (MPA) in May of 2011. Heavey's experience and education all helped him earn a recent promotion to Deputy Police Chief in Greenwich.
"I certainly feel that completing my master's just prior to the selection process for the Deputy Chief's position put me in a more competitive position," Heavey said. "If you look at police chief job announcements, almost all of them indicate 'master's preferred.' All of the candidates for my position, like me, had many years of experience at the same police department, but I was the only one who had completed an advanced degree. I was able to use my experience from class projects to demonstrate in the assessment center that I had good problem solving skills."
Bellevue University's MPA program prepares students to handle the complexities and challenges present in the public sector. Students learn the intricacies of working in the public sector with regard to management, organizational and financial issues specific to government, non-profit and other public organizations. The program is offered in a 16-month, accelerated cohort format.
Heavey, an Army veteran, investigated other schools, but decided on Bellevue University because of the school's familiarity with military students as well as several other factors.
"I looked at several schools before deciding on Bellevue," he said. "I spoke to BU faculty and sought recommendations from other military reservists. I decided on Bellevue because of their strong support of the military and because they were a good value. Because of shift work at the time, I could not have attended classes in a traditional format."
After completing his undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice Administration, Heavey sought to expand his education with the MPA program.
"When I started looking at getting a graduate degree I looked at what other leaders in my field were getting. I also talked to Professor (Robert) Cook at BU about the benefits of a master's degree," Heavey explained. "The MPA expands your knowledge in areas beyond just police administration. The modern police professional needs to be able to operate in an ever-expanding role, which requires him or her to be able to communicate effectively with other types of agencies (Interoperability) and effectively lead a unified command if called upon to do so."
Heavey will be able to apply his education as the new Deputy Police Chief in Greenwich, a New York City suburb of a little over 60,000 people.
"The opportunity to work on grants that would actually be submitted for consideration was a great learning lab," Heavey said. "Although my classmates were from all over the country, we shared similar challenges where we worked and often shared new and or different ways to address them."
Heavey credited Bellevue University's online learning capabilities along with support from his family for making his educational goals a reality.
"As much as the technology enabled me to complete my master's, I cannot over emphasize the importance of family support," he said. "The first few months were challenging until I got into the groove. I had been out of school for some time and had to refresh my learning skills. There were a few times when work, family and school seemed to all need me at the same time, but over time I developed better time management and was able to prioritize in order to get it all done."
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