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Zacreshia Patrick, a recent Eastfield College graduate who worked in Eastfield’s crime lab, uses the college's "faux" criminal body during a mock class exercise.

​Contact: Debra Dennis

For immediate release — June 14, 2018

(DALLAS) — Eric Carr’s passion for public service grew out of his own background: He was adopted by a single mother, had no father figure and felt isolated.

Carr, a criminal justice student at Eastfield College, is working as the volunteer facilitator for the Dallas Junior Police Academy. His goal is to help foster a positive relationship between Dallas youngsters and police officers.

Through that program, Carr helps facilitate ride-alongs that allow passengers to observe the work day of a police officer, canine interaction and other activities. He hopes to parlay his service into a full-time law enforcement career that focuses on community relations.

“We can’t react to stop a crime unless the community tells us what is going on,” said Carr. “Communications has to be the focus — the community relations part.”

This investment brings dialogue, friendship and mentoring, and it strengthens the community, Carr said. And it gives him a sense of where he wants to steer his career.

It is important not to be tainted by pre-conceived ideas, said Carr, who is working as part of AmeriCorps Vista, a national community service group that pairs college students with opportunities to reach at-risk youth.

“Through community relations and our encounters, I would say the opportunity to work in this field is immense and very, very rewarding,” said Carr, who is 27.

“Growing up, I wanted to be part of something. I was adopted. My mom was a single parent, and I needed some discipline in my life. With the absence of a father, I was looking for a mentor, discipline and guidance — and I found it. I found the tools and values they were instilling in my life. And I want to do that with these kids.”

Carr’s dream criminal justice job is in community relations, but he is ready for all of the tasks he must accomplish before that happens.

Students Try Options to Identify Their Favorite Career

Career options for criminal justice students vary from first responders to crime scene technicians, firefighters, paramedics and private investigators, said Patrick Patterson, the program’s coordinator and faculty director at Eastfield College.

“This (field) is not just for people who want to become police officers. There are so many choices students can explore,” he said. “In addition to police and corrections officer, student may opt for careers as a correctional officer, firefighter, fire inspector, probation officer, private detective or an animal cruelty investigator,” Patterson said.

Using Eastfield’s forensic crime lab, students investigate simulated crime scenes.

The stench was probably the worst thing about digging up a dummied “body” for a criminal justice course. But second-year Eastfield College student Kenya Jones joined other classmates on a six-foot dig behind the campus.

She bravely fought the impulse to gag, propelled by her dream of wanting to become the first in her family to pursue a career in law enforcement.

“I always wanted to figure out ‘Why do people kill?’ What drives you to do that? What makes someone want to start killing? It’s probably a good question to ask, but I’m not sure what the answer is or if we’ll ever find out,” said Jones, a 2016 graduate of Seagoville High School who wants to become a behavioral analyst or crime scene investigator.

Zacreshia Patrick not only watched crime shows as a child; she immersed herself in them.

Those televised “whodunnits” were not pastimes as much as they were a glimpse into a career, said Patrick. A recent Eastfield College graduate who works in Eastfield’s crime lab, she wanted to go beyond entertainment and look at what these shows would yield later – a possible career exploring who commits crime, how they do it and why.

“’Bones,’ ‘Rosewood,’ ‘CSI,’ ‘NCIS’ — all of them. I wanted to know who did it and why,” said Patrick, ticking off the crime shows that grabbed her attention. She currently helps set up mock crime scenes in Eastfield’s lab.

“When you’re tracking a killer, you look for leads. There is so much to learn from the evidence they’ve left behind,” said Patrick, a recent Eastfield graduate who is heading to Texas A&M University in the fall to complete her studies.

Anyone who is considering crime scene investigation as a career will find that those experts are sought by insurance companies, defense attorneys as well as prosecutors, Patterson said.

Criminal Justice Offers Different Pathways, Better Pay

Patterson encourages students to look at a variety of career options.

“There are plenty of jobs you can pursue in law enforcement,” Patterson said. “Criminal justice is much more than becoming a police officer, firefighter or EMT.”

For example, private investigators and crime scene technicians are among the popular career choices, he added. They secure the crime scene, collect evidence, take photographs, and preserve and process evidence for court.

“An inquisitive mind helps, along with an affinity for sifting through the most minute pieces of evidence,” Patterson said. “I tell my students, ‘The story is there. You have to let the evidence and the victim speak so that you’ll know what happened. There are fingerprints and blood. All of those clues are there.”

Students must be thorough and attentive to detail. With a college credential and extensive training in any career choice, an eager job market awaits, Patterson said.

The median pay for police officers and detectives is $62,960, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor. Security guards and gaming surveillance officers make considerably less, with salaries starting at $26,960.

The colleges of DCCCD offer a number of criminal justice courses, degrees and certificates at each of the seven colleges to help interested individuals find a career. Noncredit programs in peace officer training and licensing are offered at both Eastfield and Cedar Valley colleges.

In addition to criminal forensics and private investigation, other career options include police officer, correctional officer/jailer and private security officer. Academic credit courses also are offered and are designed to transfer to a four-year college or university for students who are pursuing a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.

For details about DCCCD's criminal justice program, contact Patrick Patterson at Eastfield College by email at or call him at 972-860-7355.

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Visit our Criminal Justice program profile webpage at to learn more.