SEU prepared grad for conceptual and physical dimensions of law enforcement
Chris Maffei can tell you that being a deputy for the Hillsborough County (Fla.) Sheriff’s Department is a lot of things: dangerous, demanding, and adrenaline-inducing. The job requires a sharp mind, an able body, and more than anything: a sound understanding of law enforcement.
A native of Kissimmee, Florida, Maffei started his college career at a university in North Carolina on a basketball scholarship, but after one semester he felt God calling him to Southeastern. He transferred to Southeastern and began the criminal justice program after being impressed by the program’s faculty coordinator.
As a deputy for the sheriff’s department, Maffei spends roughly half of his time responding to 911 calls forwarded to him from police dispatchers, and half his time patrolling neighborhoods and communities. While responding to calls or patrolling, Maffei arrests suspected lawbreakers. Maffei also appears in court to testify in cases in which he arrested a suspect.
Maffei graduated from Southeastern in 2007 and attended the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department academy; he graduated from the police academy in 2008.
Maffei says that Southeastern taught him that law enforcement is just as much about understanding why criminals do what they do, as it is about arresting criminals. In his criminal justice theory class, Maffei’s professor taught him that a criminal’s neighborhood and his or her upbringing play a critical role in their misdeeds. In his weekly encounters with juvenile offenders, Maffei reminds himself that kids don’t start out bad, and that there are other factors, like family life, that are taking place. As a result, Maffei tries to treat juvenile offenders with respect and dignity.
Maffei’s department assigned him to visit a juvenile offender once a week. The Southeastern gradstopped by to visit the youth to make sure the youth was “staying out of trouble.” Maffei’s philosophy of respect and dignity paid off. The offender willingly comes out to meet him and talk about what’s going on in his life. When other officers stop by, the youth is defensive and stays in his home, Maffei said.
In addition to preparing Maffei’s mind for police work, Southeastern also prepared his body for the physical rigors he faces in the hands-on world of law enforcement. As a guard on Southeastern’s national champion men’s basketball team, Maffei was in peak physical condition when he began police academy. His physical fitness paid off, for he was able to endure the push-ups, sit-ups, and dozens of miles of running the police training required.
Though Maffei enjoys the mental and physical rigors of local law enforcement, he dreams of one day working for the United States Secret Service. He first caught the dream at Southeastern, where he did an internship with the service’s Tampa, Florida, field office through the help of a criminal justice professor. His professor recognized Maffei’s potential and put him in contact with a former Secret Service agent. The former agent contacted the service’s Tampa office, and Maffei was soon hired as an intern.
Maffei is grateful for the training he received at Southeastern, and believes that the academic and physical preparation he received at Southeastern is vital to his success in law enforcement: not only in his current tenure with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department, but also in his goal of becoming a Secret Service agent.