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In the Spotlight: Danny McGuire, Assistant Professor & Assistant Director of NLU’s Criminal Justice program

Danny McGuire 2As one of NLU’s newest employees, Danny McGuire is definitely staying busy. You’ll most often find him roving Chicagoland as a key part of the outreach effort for the University’s successful new Criminal Justice program, which launched in 2012.

In his visits to cadet explorer groups, community colleges and local police departments, Danny stresses the importance of higher education, no matter what his audience — curious teenagers, college transfer students or working police — not only for one’s career but as an extension of service, a chance to do something more. It’s a concept he knows well.

“My father was a Chicago police officer, so for me it was the family business,” Danny said. “And it was a sense of calling, a sense of duty. I became a police officer because I always had this sense of service. I view myself as a servant to people and the law enforcement community, and I truly believe that ‘for one much is given, much is expected.’”

Danny’s law enforcement career began at 18 as a cadet explorer with the Palos Heights Police Department. From there he became a community service officer in Palos Heights while attending Moraine Valley Community College majoring in Criminal Justice. In 1992 at 21, he was hired to the Cook County Sheriff’s Department as part of a federally funded narcotic task force called the South Suburban Drug Initiative. This opportunity led him to an assignment with NEMEG, where he participated in covert narcotics investigations and purchases. Four years later, Danny joined the Chicago Police Department, working patrol and then special operations, where he became part of the Hostage Barricade Terrorist Team (HBT now known as SWAT). After achieving the rank of sergeant and a short stint in patrol, he was called upon to handle the SWAT team’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Safety and sSupport (WMD SST) and later was chief hostage/crisis negotiator.

An injury forced Danny to leave the force in 2012. After more than 20 years of service in law enforcement, this was a difficult situation for him to deal with.

“I went from 100 miles per hour — every day something new and exciting — to full stop,” he said. “I loved the job and the people I worked for and with. Sitting around doing nothing is not in my DNA. It was a bitter pill to swallow, but I had great support from a loving family and great friends.”

The story doesn’t end there, however. While with the CPD, Danny earned his Bachelors of Science in Law Enforcement Management, winning the Demonstrates Leadership Award for his 4.0 GPA and his work as pipe major of the Chicago Police Bagpipe Band. After that, he went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology at which time a friend, who worked at Calumet College of St. Joseph, asked if he could cover a night of a terrorism-focused class because of his background in WMD work. This lead to him becoming an adjunct instructor, and Danny said he enjoyed going on to teach a range of criminal justice, psychology and leadership classes — he has an Ed.D. in Ethical Leadership — at CCSJ, the Adler School of Professional Psychology and Governors State University.

“Combining my experience, education and training to help other people accomplish their collegiate goals reinforced my sense of service,” Danny said. “I was helping people already established in their career as well as those looking to attain their dreams of getting ‘on the job’ all get to a place they wanted to be, and that’s a cool thing.”

He understands the importance of quality faculty and cited the NLU CJ program’s adjunct and full-time professors as one of its strengths — service-oriented professors who are quick to respond to students.

“You have practitioners who are current and former police officers, detectives, sergeants, lieutenants — even chiefs — that are teaching in this program or will potentially teach in this program,” Danny said. “They’re able to deliver the material to students — and not just law enforcement but other areas, juvenile justice, any other courses we teach.”

The CJ program’s use of “experiential” training also sets it apart, Danny said, letting students try their hand at a range of criminal justice skills, everything from fingerprinting and evidence analysis to clocking time on NLU’s shooting simulator. The CJ program will also begin offering its entire six-class core online in the winter quarter for distance learners looking for a more individualized learning experience.

The end result is to peak the interest of students to choose a path and begin making a difference. The job market for criminal justice is good, Danny said, but competitive in its highest-profile sector, law enforcement. He mentioned recent U.S. Department of Labor statistics that predict a 7 to 8 percent growth in law enforcement in the next six years while adding that three percent of people who test for police jobs get hired.

With those kinds of odds, it’s important for a program such as NLU’s to make students aware of the full scope of criminal justice options. Danny said he and his fellow professors are preparing students for a variety of careers, from private security and investigation, corrections and juvenile justice to counseling, victim advocacy, cyber-security and much more.

This sense of institutional purpose is a sign for Danny that the program is on the right track as he hits the road for NLU.

“Everyone here is very friendly; I am quite honored to be here,” he said. “The direction of the school is commensurate with forward motion. It’s very progressive, and I really like that because I like to keep moving. Again, sitting around is not in my DNA.”