Adjunct Professor Tina Mainwaring Shares Her Experiences in Homeland Security and Law Enforcement and as a Professor
Tina Mainwaring has been an adjunct professor with Kaplan University since 2008, teaching classes on criminal justice and homeland security in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Professor Mainwaring’s background includes a master’s degree in criminal/social justice and a decade of experience as a police officer, skilled in patrol, investigation, and gang unit work.
Professor Mainwaring explains that being an officer during the 9/11 attacks provided a unique learning opportunity and priceless on-the-job training for how to stay flexible in the field of law enforcement. After 9/11, she became a member of an emergency management team and saw firsthand how law enforcement techniques and priorities evolved to focus on securing our critical infrastructures and becoming more aware of potential threats.
“Our homeland security class is just like the ever-changing environment we now live in. The class is never the same. Think about it: Terrorists are constantly changing their tactics, and we have to be equipped to stay one step ahead.”
As a daughter of a fireman and a nurse, Professor Mainwaring says that working in law enforcement was just a natural fit. Growing up with role models who helped and protected people made her aware of her own capabilities and interest in how she could give back to the community. At the same time, Professor Mainwaring said she always loved the idea of being a teacher.
“I truly enjoyed school, and a professor of mine told me that while I was in school it would be beneficial for me to complete my master’s. I’m thankful I listened, and would give that advice to any student who might be considering various possibilities.”Professor Mainwaring said that because of that professor’s advice she was able to follow her dream of being a police officer and then easily segue into a teaching career, once she started a family.
After all, police work does have its inherent dangers, and Professor Mainwaring knew that once her twins were born she would need to make a change. For instance, as a leader in the gang investigator unit, she participated undercover in drug transactions to identify and arrest dealers. When asked how she developed the bravery to pursue this kind of a career, she quickly changes the subject. “Undercover work was hard, but seriously the hardest work I did as a police officer was in the D.A.R.E. program.”Professor Mainwaring explains that the intense training involved to learn how to best communicate with and instruct children and teens made the D.A.R.E program the most challenging project she handled. At the same time, the program helped to underscore her love of teaching.
Professor Mainwaring says that online teaching at Kaplan University has provided a unique, diverse environment that she considers enlightening. “Generally speaking, young students have strong ideals and hopes to change the world. Their opinions are very different from students who are past military personnel or seasoned law enforcement individuals whose experience may show them a different perspective. Both perspectives are important, and it’s fascinating to help find a way for them to talk with each other.”
Professor Mainwaring emphasizes the relevance of Kaplan University’s homeland security cases for both criminal justice majors as well as students in other fields. A main focus of the class is to learn about the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), particularly what that organization does to keep our country safe and how DHS interacts with local law enforcement. At the same time, much of the class deals with issues that can help people in every day life, providing information about emergency preparedness and how to stay safe in busy places by knowing what to look for in your surroundings.
“Having the opportunity to share what I learned on the streets is really a dream come true. My days as a police officer were intense and fascinating, and as a teacher I can help others to understand the nature of police work and learn from my experiences.”