Officer Explains Policing to High School Students at Marymount Summer Institute

Sergeant Patrick Loftus, a seven-year-veteran of the Washington Metropolitan Police Department, likes to engage with young people, give them a positive role model in law enforcement and debunk stereotypes about his profession.

The 2013 Marymount University graduate had the perfect opportunity on Friday when he spoke with 11 high school students enrolled in his alma mater’s annual Criminal Justice Institute, an intensive two-week program that explores the complexity of the field and exposes students to a broad range of career opportunities.

“I asked how many of them actually knew a police officer,” Loftus said. “Many of them didn’t.”

During a wide-ranging town hall style meeting on campus, Loftus, an instructor with the Metropolitan Police Academy, spoke to students about contemporary issues facing law enforcement, such as the use of force and cameras in policing, along with media relations and current events.

“He’s very engaging and likes to talk with students,” said Dr. Stephanie Ellis, chair of Marymount’s Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice and one of Loftus’ former professors. “He’s really bright and was a great student.”

Loftus, who joined the force after his junior year in college, also explained the hiring process to students and discussed various career options in law enforcement.

“I started college in 2005 and joined the force after my junior year,” he said. “It took me four years after that to finish my degree part-time.”

During his career he’s worked everything from narcotics to crime scenes and mountain bike patrol. He was inspired to become a police officer because of all the crime he saw while growing up in Washington’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.

“Police have the opportunity to help people every day, in both large and small ways,” he said. “On a given shift you can go from helping to find a lost child to answering a call about domestic abuse or a car crash. You have contact with a lot of people.”

He stays in touch with several of his Marymount professors and has lectured in Dr. Michael Bolton’s criminal justice classes. Loftus hopes to become an adjunct professor when he completes his master’s degree, which he’s currently pursuing online.

Lofton said he always enjoys speaking at the summer institute.

Students stayed on campus from July 6-17 and earned three college credits. On a typical day, Ellis said, they learned about research in a given area each morning and then talked with people working in the field in the afternoon.

“It gives them a pretty broad view,” Ellis said.

Photo caption:

Sergeant Patrick Loftus discusses issues facing law enforcement with high school students in Marymount University’s Criminal Justice Institute.