Detective Jay Pugliese handles criminal investigations at the Naugatuck Police Department every day. He’s honed some of his investigative, crime-solving skills on the job through hands-on experience and the department’s in-service training. But he attributes his ability to make “tough decisions” to the education he received when he earned his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Post University.
That’s due to several reasons, which Detective Pugliese told us about when we spoke with him for a podcast. One of the most important reasons he learned so much was because Post University’s criminal justice degree program instructors are active duty and retired law enforcement professionals.
In fact, that’s why the detective and I met. The Naugatuck and Waterbury Police Department often work closely together, and when Detective Pugliese came to Post as a student, we got to know each other even better.
Like a true law enforcement professional, Detective Pugliese told it like it is during our interview — why he decided to attend Post University, how his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice is helping his law enforcement career, and where he plans to go next now that he has his bachelor’s degree under his belt. His honest perspectives are worth listening to.
By the way, if Detective Pugliese’s name sounds familiar, he’s the son of Waterbury’s Director of Economic Development, Ronald J. Pugliese, who spoke at our Online Learning Conference 2012.
Thanks for joining us on our blog, Detective Pugliese.
We’ve also included the transcript of our interview below if you prefer reading. Enjoy.
Janelle: Greetings, everyone. Janelle Kozyra here for a Post University podcast. Today I am joined by Jay Pugliese, who is a recent graduate of Post. Jay, it’s good to have you with us today.
Jay: Thank you. Good to be here.
Janelle: So, Jay, when did you graduate from Post?
Jay: I graduated in December of 2010.
Janelle: OK, and what are you doing now?
Jay: I’m a full-time police officer in Naugatuck, Conn.
Janelle: Great. So take us back to the beginning, then. Tell us how you got to where you are today. So what made you, first of all, decide to get your college degree?
Jay: Well, right when I graduated high school, I started to go to college at the local community college. I went a semester at the University of Hartford and at the University of Connecticut. But at the time I just wasn’t really into college and wanted to do other things. I went to paramedic school and went and got my pilot’s license. I would have rather done things like that instead of going and sitting in a classroom. And as I got a little older and got through into my career as a police officer, I decided to go back and get my degree. So I got an associate degree and then I heard about Post’s online bachelor’s degree program. I actually know the coordinator, and got talking with Dr. Nardozzi, and he convinced me basically to sign up and start taking classes. In about two years, I got my bachelor’s degree and I’m very happy and impressed with the degree that I got from Post.
Janelle: So you mentioned Jim Nardozzi.
Janelle: And so how do you know Jim?
Jay: He was a police officer in Waterbury, which is the next city up from Naugatuck, and we’ve — the two departments work pretty well and pretty closely together. So just basically through the police circle.
Janelle: So what sealed the deal for you in deciding that Post was the right place for you to get your bachelor’s?
Jay: Well, just the fact that they only use active duty and retired law enforcement as their criminal justice instructors, which really kind of brings a new level of commitment to the program. You don’t get somebody who has a criminal justice degree, but has never used it in their practical life, teaching you something that they don’t really understand themselves; they just know it from reading a book. At least now with Post’s program, they use actual law enforcement professionals and retired law enforcement professionals as their instructors. That really allows them to bring in their experience to the classroom and makes learning that much more interesting and that much easier because you have a story to relate the topic to.
Janelle: Did you take classes with Jim Nardozzi?
Jay: No, he wasn’t actually an instructor of mine. I just never had the pleasure of having him as a professor.
Janelle: Now how did you decide that criminal justice was what you wanted to major in? What was your associate in, and then how did you decide that was the right path for your bachelor’s?
Jay: My associate was also in criminal justice, and part of the reason was financial. The police department pays for a portion of a criminal justice degree, and that’s just one of the reasons why. And plus, I am in the field and thought it would be good to further my career.
Janelle: So what did you hope to get out of having the degree, specifically? How did you hope it would advance your career?
Jay: First of all, I wanted a better understanding of the criminal justice system and some of the laws behind the criminal justice system, on how it got started, what the intentions of the system were, and how it’s changed as it’s moved through history. And I think a lot of that has really been able to help me in my career make some tough decisions, and look back on some of the decisions that I’ve made in the past, and look back at some of the decisions the courts have made in the past, and been able to understand those a little bit better.
Janelle: Any decisions that stick out in your mind in particular?
Jay: No, just more of the case law, when you’re making decisions on how you’re going to move forward with a case. Whether you’re going to interview somebody, whether they request an attorney, or whether they ask your advice on whether they should have an attorney. Just knowing the system and knowing some of the case law behind the system. It just helped me to kind of maneuver through the legalities of the system a little bit better than if I didn’t go to school and just base my decisions on some in-service training that we’ve had over the years through the police department.
Janelle: So what is your rank now at the police department?
Jay: I’m a detective.
Janelle: OK, and were you a detective before you got your bachelor’s as well?
Jay: No, I wasn’t. I was a patrol officer.
Janelle: So do you think your degree helped you achieve the detective rank?
Jay: I think it did, yeah. Yeah, I think it definitely helped me, definitely helped me understand kind of the more investigative and more legally specific work that a detective would do as opposed to a patrol officer.
Janelle: What do you like about doing the detective work?
Jay: I like the fact that I can actually follow through a case all the way to the end, and interview the suspect, interview the victims and the witnesses, process the evidence, come to a conclusion at the end, and either close the case if that’s the situation or go ahead and apply for an arrest warrant and follow that through the court system. It’s just a little bit more interesting.
Janelle: So let’s get to some of the nitty-gritty about your experience at Post. How would you sum it up?
Jay: I really enjoyed going to Post University. It allowed me to get on the computer and do my classwork sort of at my schedule, just as long as I met the deadline for when the work was due. And going on the discussion boards and learning from other students and having some good-hearted debates with other students was very, very helpful and made the classes that much more enjoyable.
Janelle: So were you on campus or did you take online classes?
Jay: I went online.
Janelle: What do you think about the online format?
Jay: I thought it was great. You weren’t personally interacting with anyone face-to-face, but you were really able to kind of get into good discussions with other people through the discussion boards, and you’re able to e-mail questions to the instructors or e-mail questions to other students, whatever. Whatever you needed clarified was no problem. Instead of raising your hand and asking a question, you just put it in the form of an e-mail, and they’re always very, very good about getting back with the answers. So I really enjoyed the online classes.
Janelle: Did you continue to work, then, while you attended Post?
Jay: Yes, I did.
Janelle: And how did you sort of juggle your work life with your education?
Jay: Usually when I got home from work I would sit down in the afternoon on the computer and go ahead and do my work for the day and be done in a few hours and have the rest of the evening to myself, so it really wasn’t that bad.
Janelle: What are some of your best memories of going to Post? I mean, even though you were online and you didn’t have that face-to-face interaction, you didn’t have the traditional on-campus experience, but you had the online campus experience. So what would you say were some of your best memories?
Jay: My best memories were just being able to fit getting a degree into my life now, where if I had to go to campus, I don’t know if I would have been able to do it as quickly as I did online. That was one of my best memories, I guess, was being able to actually do it.
Janelle: What was your interaction with the instructors like online?
Jay: All the instructors were great. Like I said, if you ever had any questions, you could just put it in the form of an e-mail and send it to them. Otherwise the instructors would get involved in the discussion board threads and they would offer insight, they would answer any questions that you had, they would clarify your answers or other students’ answers, and would get involved in the debates or almost stir the pot a little bit to get the debates going a little bit. They were great. Plus they had their own lecture sections, so every week you’d go on and open up their lecture and go through it, and that’s how you would learn for the week and match that up with what’s in the textbook. And it worked out really, really well.
Janelle: Jay, do you think you were able to apply what you were learning at Post to your job at the police department in real time?
Jay: Yes, I was. Even classes that weren’t involving criminal justice, they always had something in the class that I learned that I could use in not only my professional life, but just in my everyday life. You know, talking with other people or even at dinner conversations or watching the news, you can understand different stories a little bit better and so it was very real time. Every time you learn something you can find somewhere in your life to apply that to.
Janelle: Do you keep in touch with any instructors or any of your classmates from Post still?
Jay: No, not really. I do see Dr. Nardozzi and speak with him on a regular basis. As a matter of fact, he just wrote me a letter of recommendation. I just applied to law school.
Janelle: Oh, great.
Jay: So we’ll see how that goes.
Janelle: So you are, like you said, you’re now pursuing a law degree?
Jay: Yes. I mean, I’ve got to see if I get in first, but that is the next — the plan is to go part-time to law school for the next few years.
Janelle: And how did you think of law? Has that been a long-time passion of yours or is that something relatively new that you thought you might want to get into?
Jay: It’s relatively new. When I retire from the police department, I’m going to want to do something else, but still stay in the criminal justice field and still try to stay on this side of the court system. So I thought of being a lawyer, possibly a prosecutor would be almost the next logical step. So we’ll see how it goes with the application and go from there.
Janelle: If you could go back to Post again, Jay, and change anything about your educational path or what classes you took or anything along those lines, would you change anything? And, if so, what?
Jay: No, I don’t think I would. I did actually think about going back to Post and getting into their MBA program, and still may even do that depending on how law school goes, depending on where life takes me in the next few years. But I would definitely attend another Post program and don’t think I would really go back and change much about the one that I went through. I really enjoyed it.
Janelle: So, Jay, would you recommend Post to a friend or a colleague?
Jay: Yes, absolutely I would.
Janelle: Great. Well, Jay, it was great talking with you. Good luck with your law school endeavor.
Jay: Thank you very much.