Police Chief Hernandez receives friend of the college
PLATTEVILLE - Earl Hernandez understands the value of a college education. As chief of the Platteville Police Department, Hernandez demands it for his officers.
"I think the world has changed a lot, and the experience from a broad-based education is very helpful to a law enforcement officer," Hernandez said.
At the Oct. 10 UWP College of Liberal Arts and Education banquet, Hernadez is to be honored with a Friend of the College Award.
He has served as chief of the Platteville Police Department, working closely with the university police department, since 1999. Hernandez retired from the Illinois State Police a year before, capping a 30-year career in Illinois law enforcement. He is proud of the fact he was one of the first district commanders in the Illinois State Police to implement community policing throughout his district.
"In the old police culture, it was 'us' and 'them.' The police did there job and didn't take much input from the community," Hernandez said. "Today, we work in concert with the community. They should have a lot of input into what kind of police department they have."
Hernandez emphasizes community policing here in Platteville as well, and involves civilian employees such as dispatchers and clerks in the effort in addition to sworn officers.
When he assumed the job as police chief in 1999, Hernandez began to require bachelor's degrees for entry-level sworn officers in the Platteville Police Department, and may have been the first chief in Wisconsin to do so. He praised the UWP criminal justice program for their broad-based education rooted in the liberal arts.
"I like the liberal arts graduate because liberal arts graduates are more current when it comes to diversity," Hernandez said. "Many criminal justice programs were an extension of police-type training. Criminal justice here at UWP is a little more broad-based."
Hernandez said the emergence of larger percentages of Spanish-speaking people in communities makes education extremely important, and international experiences can be a benefit for students, especially those who wish to go into law enforcement.
"There are very few Spanish-speaking law enforcement personnel in this state, but there are more and more Spanish-speaking people moving into the communities every year," Hernandez said. "A semester or two in a Spanish speaking country would be very helpful."
Hernandez earned a bachelor's degree in social justice from Lewis University and a master's degree in criminal justice from Michigan State University. He was raised in Chicago, and he and his wife, Linda, are the proud parents of five children and four grandchildren.
Fellow College of Liberal Arts and Education honorees Bernard Powers, Bruce Howdle and Michael Roberts will join Hernandez for recognition at an Oct. 10 dinner and banquet. The reception begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Harry and Laura Nohr Gallery in the Ullsvik Center.