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Criminal Justice News + Events

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Gwynedd Mercy University Criminal Justice graduate honored with the Spirit of Distinction Award

We are proud to recognize Cadet Cpl. Jerry Ploskon, a 2013 graduate of Gwynedd Mercy University and a 4-year student of the Criminal Justice program. During his senior year, Jerry attended the Montgomery County Police Academy, earning a final grade of 95, and the respect of his graduating class. Because of his accomplishments, Jerry was honored with the Spirit of Distinction Award, voted by both his peers and instructors as the graduate most exemplifying the values and qualities of a law enforcement official. As a student in Criminal Justice, Jerry finished his undergraduate career with a cumulative GPA of 3.50, and an in-major GPA of 3.66. We could not be more proud of Jerry’s accomplishments, and look forward to seeing him thrive as a law enforcement officer in the area.

Read the article “MCCC Municipal Police Academy Graduates 51 Cadets” in the LowerGwynedd-Ambler-Whitpain Patch



Criminal Justice Bachelor Degree[[{"fid":"902","view_mode":"default","type":"media","attributes":{"height":200,"width":350,"style":"float: right; margin: 10px; width: 398px; height: 227px;","alt":"Gwynedd Mercy University Criminal Justice Classroom","class":"media-element file-default"}}]]

The Criminal Justice Program at Gwynedd Mercy University is dedicated to providing students with the theoretical, practical and professional knowledge needed to succeed in today’s environment in the fields of law enforcement, courts, corrections, probation, parole, private security and related social career services.  Emphasis is placed upon preparing the student to enter the professional workplace or continue studies in graduate school.

The curriculum is designed to provide students with expert instruction on the most current trends, policies and practices in the field.  Gwynedd Mercy University has recruited faculty members who are professionals in their respective fields within the criminal justice system. All part-time faculty are practicing professionals in the areas in which they teach. Class instruction is therefore as current as the events of that day. The curriculum of the Criminal Justice Program is innovative and demands intensive classroom learning combined with extensive research and required field experience.

One such class is Forensics, in which the nature of physical evidence is defined and the limitations that technology and current knowledge impose on its individualization and characterization are examined.  By combining case stories and “hands on” application, this course endeavors to capture the pulse and fervor of forensic science investigations.

In addition, most courses offer an opportunity for field experience and require 120 hours of internship/field practicum. Examples of internship sites have included: the Pottstown Police Department, Lower Salford Township Police Department, Springfield (Montco) Township Police Department, the Montgomery County District Attorneys Office, Laurel House, and the Montgomery County Youth Detention Center.

The faculty of the Gwynedd Mercy University Criminal Justice Program are professionals in their respective fields within the criminal justice system.

[[{"fid":"903","view_mode":"default","type":"media","attributes":{"height":200,"width":150,"style":"float: left; margin: 10px; width: 134px; height: 179px;","alt":"Fingerprint - Criminal Justice","class":"media-element file-default"}}]]Municipal Police Officer Certification (Act 120)

Students with career goals in local law enforcement have the option of attending the Municipal Police Academy at the Montgomery County Public Safety Training Campus located at 1175 Conshohocken Road, Conshohocken, Pa., 19428.  The Academy is certified by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania through the Municipal Police Officers’ Education and Training commission.  This training is offered as part of their four-year degree without extended time or expense.  Students are eligible to apply for the Academy during their junior year in order to attend in their senior year.



Meet the Faculty

Curriculum Information

Advisory Board Members

Alpha Phi Sigma, National Criminal Justice Honor Society

Criminal Justice Club

Guest Speakers

Field Trips


Meet the CJ Faculty

Walter Zdunowski
Director, Criminal Justice Program; MS Criminal Justice, West Chester University; BA Criminal Justice/Sociology, LaSalle University; Montgomery County Detective Bureau (1988-2006); Operations Officer, Counter Terrorist Center (1986-1988); Owner, Private Detective Agency (1980-1986); Pennsylvania State Police (1970-1980); retired Lieutenant Colonel United States Army Reserve..

Dr. Patrick N. McGrain
PhD Philosophy, Temple University; MS Criminal Justice, State University of New York College at Buffalo; BS Criminal Justice, State University of New York College at Oswego, New York; Co-author of Inside the Minds of Social Predators, Westport, CT: Praeger (2010)

Adjunct Faculty

Minerva Cruz
MS Disaster Medicine and Management, Philadelphia University; BS Life Science, Pennsylvania State University; Police Officer/Police Instructor, City of Philadelphia Police Department (1994-present)

John T. Fallon
MS Public Safety Administration, St. Joseph’s University; BA General Arts, Villanova University; Detective, Montgomery County Detective Bureau (1991-present); Lower Merion Police Department (1981-1991)

Michael Gilbert
MA Secondary Education, Villanova University; BS Health and Physical Education, Pennsylvania State University; Detective, Montgomery County Detective Bureau (2000-present); Police Officer/Detective, Lower Merion Police Department (1976-2000)

Frank Llewellyn
MS Criminal Justice, West Chester University; BS Finance, Drexel University; Lieutenant, Philadelphia Police Department (1989-present)

Robert P. Sands
MS Police Administration, Villanova University; BS Human Development Law Enforcement and Corrections, Pennsylvania State University;  Director of Training, Abington Police Department (2007-present)Police Sergeant, Upper Moreland Township (1977-2006)

Honorable Paul W. Tressler
JD University of Pennsylvania Law School; BA Susquehanna University; Judge, Montgomery county Court of Common Pleas (retired)


Curriculum Information

Criminal Justice - 63 credits

CRJ 102

Intro to Criminal Justice

3 credits

CRJ 215


3 credits

CRJ 220

Ethics in Criminal Justice

3 credits

CRJ 225

Juvenile Delinquency

3 credits

CRJ 250

Police & Law Enforcement in America

3 credits

CRJ 301

Intro to Private Security

3 credits

CRJ 310

Intro to Criminal Justice Research

3 credits

CRJ 320

Forensics: Crime Scene Investigation

3 credits

CRJ 326

Criminal Procedures

3 credits

CRJ 327

Criminal Law

3 credits

CRJ 370


3 credits

CRJ 401

Theories of Crime & Deviance

3 credits

CRJ 405

Criminal Investigations

3 credits

CRJ 410

Courts in America

3 credits

CRJ 435

Criminal Justice Internship

3 credits

CRJ 4000

CRJ Capstone

3 credits


Criminal Justice Elective
Criminal Justice Elective
Criminal Justice Elective
Criminal Justice Elective

3 credits
3 credits
3 credits
3 credits

Criminal Justice Elective Courses Offered

CRJ 285

Family Violence

CRJ 299

Drugs, Society and Criminal Justice

CRJ 299

Fitness and Training

CRJ 299

Probation and Parole

CRJ 299

Women in Criminal Justice

CRJ 355

Terrorism and Hate Groups

CRJ 425

White Collar Crime

CRJ 437

Arson Investigation

CRJ 455

Issues in Private and Corporate Security


I. Skills for Exploring – 6 credits for BS

II. Exploring Society and Global Diversity – 12 credits for BS

III. Exploring the Natural World, Mathematics and Technology – 9-11 credits for BS

IV. Exploring the Spiritual World – 9 credits for BS

V. Exploring the Arts and the Imagination – 12 credits for BS

* Please contact the Office of Admissions at or call 1-800-342-5462 for specific general education course requirements.

Credit Requirement
A minimum of 125 credits is required for the BS degree.

Grade Requirement
The minimum passing grade within the major is C (a grade of C- is not acceptable)



Advisory Board Members


James Frye                              Deputy Warden, Montgomery County Correctional Facility

Russell Jones                           Director of Security, Albert Einstein Medical Center

Maureen Raquet                      Director, Montgomery County Youth Detention Center

Paul Tressler                            Retired Judge, Court of Common Pleas, Montgomery County

Richard Peffell                        Lieutenant, Montgomery County Detective Bureau

Tina Reynolds                         Director of Development and Community Relations, Laurel House

Cynthia L. Transue                 Lt. Colonel, Pennsylvania State Police (Retired)


The Criminal Justice Advisory Board is organized for the general purpose of making the Criminal
Justice Program as efficient as possible so that an occupation and students may be served to the
greatest advantage. The Board's functions include recommendations and advice to the
Chairperson of Behavior and social Sciences and the Director of the Criminal Justice Program on such matters as the following:

  1. Determining training needs and training possibilities
  2. Determining titles and content of-courses
  3. Advising on equipment needs and instructional materials necessary in specific training areas
  4. Strengthening public relations and publicity relative to the program
  5. Guidance and possible placement of graduates
  6. Suggesting production work of "live" projects. to be used as instructional enhancements in reaching training objectives
  7. Working on any other matters that will strengthen and develop the program (example Guest Speakers)
  8. Making recommendations of equipment necessary for training
  9. Achieving community support and understanding of the criminal justice program
  10. Advising the criminal .justice program on matter of employment conditions, job titles, placement opportunities



Alpha Phi Sigma, National Criminal Justice Honor Society

Our Criminal Justice Program is a Chapter member of the Alpha Phi Sigma Honor Society having the local chapter name of Kappa Delta.


Alpha Phi Sigma, the National Criminal Justice Honor Society, has close to 300 chapters across the country.  Each chapter is made up of people who share with us the commitment to learning and improving the criminal justice field.

Alpha Phi Sigma is the only nationally recognized honor society for students in the criminal justice sciences.  The society recognizes academic excellence by undergraduates as well as graduate students of criminal justice

Alpha Phi Sigma is a member of the Academy of College Honor Societies (ACHS) and is associated with the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS).  Additional information:

What are the qualifications of a student to apply for membership?

Undergraduate students must have completed three full-time semesters or equivalent and a minimum of four (4) courses in the criminal justice field.  Undergraduate students must have a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale with a minimum grade point average of 3.2 in courses in criminal justice fields and rank in the top 35 percent of their class.

Membership dues
The National one-time membership fee is $40.  Member categories are:  students, faculty and honorary.  Each member shall receive a pin, wallet membership card and certificate.  The Chapter shall receive copies of The Docket,  the official publication of Alpha Phi Sigma, three times yearly to be distributed to its membership.

2012 Alpha Phi Sigma Inductees:

[[{"fid":"904","view_mode":"default","type":"media","attributes":{"height":380,"width":642,"style":"float: left; width: 472px; height: 279px;","alt":"2012 Alpha Phi Sigma Gwynedd Mercy Criminal Justice Inductees","class":"media-element file-default"}}]](Back row, l. to r.) Jessica Scarpello, Tegan Wendell, Marisa Pellegrino

(Front row, l. to r.)Bardhyl Hoxha, Brian Susten, Jerry John Ploskon, Mark Vattilana


Criminal Justice Club

The Gwynedd Mercy University Criminal Justice Club was formed by Gwynedd Mercy University students who meet monthly to discuss current criminal cases in our area, mentor one another regarding their studies and plan fundraising events to support causes in our community.

[[{"fid":"905","view_mode":"default","type":"media","attributes":{"height":138,"width":600,"style":"width: 600px; height: 138px;","alt":"Criminal Justice Club","class":"media-element file-default"}}]]



Guest Speakers

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey

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Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey spoke to criminal justice students regarding their experiences in the field. “You have to really want to do it to be successful,” he said. Commissioner Ramsey urged students to complete their degrees. “The key is finishing your education.”







Kevin Steele, First Assistant District Attorney for Montgomery County

[[{"fid":"907","view_mode":"default","type":"media","attributes":{"height":399,"width":600,"style":"width: 346px; height: 230px; margin: 10px; float: left;","alt":"Kevin Steele, First Assistant District Attorney for Montgomery County ","class":"media-element file-default"}}]]

First Assistant District Attorney for Montgomery County, Kevin Steele, encourages students in the criminal justice program at Gwynedd Mercy University to get experiences in the field early on. Also pictured is criminal justice program director Walter Zdunowski.







Michael Chitwood, Upper Darby Superintendent of Police

[[{"fid":"908","view_mode":"default","type":"media","attributes":{"height":399,"width":600,"style":"width: 346px; height: 230px; margin: 10px; float: left;","alt":"Michael Chitwood, Upper Darby Superintendent of Police","class":"media-element file-default"}}]]

Michael Chitwood spoke to students about his wide-range of experiences and accomplishments during 40 years of service in law enforcement.









Field Trips

Montgomery County Corectional Facility

[[{"fid":"910","view_mode":"default","type":"media","attributes":{"height":291,"width":648,"style":"width: 648px; height: 291px;","alt":"Gwynedd Mercy Criminal Justice Students at Montgomery County Corectional Facility","class":"media-element file-default"}}]]

Assitant Professor Walt Zdunowski (left) accompanied students in his Corrections class to the Montgomery County Correctional Institution Facility in Norristown, Pa.

Eastern State Penitentiary

[[{"fid":"911","view_mode":"default","type":"media","attributes":{"height":450,"width":601,"style":"width: 601px; height: 450px;","alt":"Criminal Justice students at Eastern State Penitentiary","class":"media-element file-default"}}]]

(Clockwise from top left) Assistant Professor Walter Zdunowski, Brittany Sumpf ’11, Dalton Smyrl, Christy Ferrari, Greg Borgmann ’13, Paris Griffin ’12 and Dan Stangler ’13 helped spruce-up the long terraces that flank the front of the Eastern State Penitentiary as part of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Philadelphia Green program.