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An interview with Daniel Key

What was your career path before you entered the field of criminology?

Well, let me tell you. I was thinking of going to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. I had my appointment to the AFA through my congressional representative, and went to Lemoore Naval Air Station for the 3-day Flight Physical. I flunked it due to a bad left eye. So, I went to Modesto Junior College to figure out what I wanted to do, and got hooked after joining the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department for a ride-along. I took the test for Deputy Sheriff, passed, and went to the Law Enforcement Academy to start my career. After 1.5 years, I transferred over to the Modesto Police Department where I worked for 33 years.

How did you begin your career? What motivated you to take this path?

As explained above, I was headed to the Air Force Academy until I flunked the flight physical. I wanted to fly and when I was told I could not, I was a bit upset. I had a Deputy in one of my classes and he advised me to ride out with him, so I did. I found that Law Enforcement was more than throwing people in jail. People looked to you for help and trusted your suggestions. I liked this and wanted to be part of it.

Why did you want to become a teacher?

During my Law Enforcement Career, I was able to become involved with training new officers. I also taught our In-Service training for our department, and at the Law Enforcement Academy. I enjoy passing my experience on to others and seeing them succeed in this field. It makes me feel that I have accomplished a very important task: helping people with their dreams and goals.

Why are you interested in teaching at IOT?

I like the fact that IOT is a small college with smaller classes. For me, this leads to more “one on one” time with my students. I also love the people I work with. These folks are a great bunch of people who truly care about giving their students the best possible education they can.

What is your greatest professional accomplishment?

Wow. I guess one would be retiring after 30+ years without sustaining any serious injury!

My biggest accomplishment for myself and my department was obtaining a one million dollar grant from the California Department of Traffic Safety, for the purpose of DUI Enforcement. I’m also very proud of a program that I and my Traffic Enforcement Team invented, called “KEEP BABY SAFE”. KBS teaches people about car seat safety, how to pick the right car seat for a child, and when to change car seats based on age, height and weight. Our team would schedule inspection days where people could come in and learn all about car seats. Visitors could even obtain a free one on us if their seat was damaged or missing parts. This caught on, and we were asked by other city and county Law Enforcement agencies if we could train their Officers and hold inspections in their towns.

How do you use technology in the classroom?

I use many videos in my instruction, as well as powerpoint presentations. On lab days where we do write-ups, I have the students use their computers for the writing assignments. Most reports are now done on computers in the patrol cars, and sent to the records divisions remotely.

How do you motivate students?

I like to get to know my students. I talk with them about their goals, expectations, and where they see themselves after graduation. For me I feel the best motivator is recognition—not only from me, but also from their peers. I want the students to know that I care and want them to succeed, and that I will help them in any way I can.

What would you say to a prospective student about the CERM program?

Our program is very hands-on. We get the students outside and teach them basic handcuffing, defensive tactics, baton, firearms, and so on. We also introduce them to physical training. We tell the prospective students why these areas are important and why they need to keep in shape. We also tell the students that they shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions or afraid to fail. Instead, they should use failure as a tool to accomplish their goals and get better: make it a positive thing.