Act 120 Program Jumpstarts Alum’s Police Career
Ask Trevor Tomaszewski ’17 what he loves about his job and the answer is easy—everything.
The criminal justice major recently celebrated his first year of service with the Bethlehem Police Department. His path to the police beat all started with the Act 120 program during his senior year at DeSales University.
“Graduating college with my Act 120 certification, I was immediately ready to be hired,” he says. “I would say it was probably the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.”
Tomaszewski was one of the first students to complete the Act 120 program at DeSales, which allows qualified students to gain certification to become a municipal police officer in Pennsylvania before graduation.
“It jumpstarts your career more than you realize because getting into the academy is about a three-to-four-month process. If you don’t get in right away, you’re looking at another year or year and a half before you’re even eligible to be hired with your certification.”
To be eligible for the program, Tomaszewski had to complete a physical fitness test for DeSales and have five free electives in the spring semester of his senior year. He then applied to the Allentown Police Academy, where he had to pass physical fitness and reading tests, along with a psychological exam.
Once accepted into the academy, Tomaszewski spent nearly six months completing basic training. He was in the classroom for the majority of that time, learning everything from criminal law to narcotics. The rest of the time was spent on physical fitness.
“All police academies are different. Allentown is very big on physical fitness as well as education. But physical fitness is the biggest thing they harp on. Being a police officer—in order to survive—you need to be physically fit.”
While vehicle and foot pursuits get his adrenaline rushing, it’s the connections he makes with people that really hit home. He once responded to a 911 call in which a little boy didn’t know where his mother was. She’d been out drinking until 3:00 in the morning and when she returned home, she started yelling at her son.
“He ran up to me, hugged me, and started crying in my arms,” Tomaszewski says. “I didn’t even know who the kid was and that broke my heart because I’m a total stranger to him but he felt safe with me.”
Tomaszewski loves that every day on the job is different and that he can steer his career in a number of directions. He’s currently working to get onto the gang task force and ultimately hopes to be on Bethlehem’s SWAT team.
“You make this career what you want it to be. If you want to just answer your calls, you just answer your calls. If you want to delve a little deeper to help people and try to make their day a little bit better, you can.”
Criminal justice and homeland security majors are eligible for the Act 120 program. Tuition for the police academy is included in the student’s regular spring tuition. Thanks to the program, Tomaszewski became a police officer just six months after graduating from DeSales.
“I couldn’t be happier with the outcome. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime. If you want to become a cop and you pass this up, you made a mistake.”