By Ryan Dickinson
CCC Journalism Program
At the end of a school day, some teachers use the time to perfect lesson plans or catch up on sleep, while others open their offices to students. Anthony Saporito, however, a criminal justice teacher at Camden County College, spends the time chasing criminals. A police officer with the Cherry Hill Police Department for 26 years, Saporito uses his ever-growing experience in the field of law enforcement as a basis for the teachings in his Criminal Justice class.
Born in Maple Shade in October of 1963, Saporito attended Holy Cross High School as a teenager and had originally wished to become a high school teacher himself. After enrolling in a law enforcement course at Glassboro State College, however, Saporito found the call of criminal justice to be too strong. Upon completing his undergraduate studies, Saporito spent a year at the Glassboro Police Department before making a permanent move to Cherry Hill.
Although Saporito has enjoyed his time in police work, he had “always enjoyed teaching,” and, after hearing that “a coworker of [his] taught at [Camden County College],” he decided to pursue it once more. It was at this point that he enrolled in Seton Hall University, but found that “completing [his] master’s degree in order to teach was” far more difficult than the police academy. He persevered, however, and discovered that the two jobs share necessary qualities. From his experience in both fields, Saporito has found that “education and patience are the most important aspects of both jobs,” and believes that teaching and police work “go hand in hand because in both you have the opportunity to shape lives.” He did admit that “as a teacher, [however], there is not a whole lot of excitement yet.”
Saporito is not the only one enjoying the benefits of his dual life as both a policeman and an educator, however. His students, as well, are gaining valuable experience from a tenured professional in the law enforcement field.
Mike Palmer, a student in Saporito’s Criminal Justice class, says that “having a police officer teach a class on criminal justice gives the students deeper insight into the field they will most likely be joining,” and presents them the opportunity “to learn things first-hand that they otherwise wouldn’t.” Classroom discussions, as well, are livened by real-life examples of dull book material, making it both easier and more exciting to learn.
Although Saporito now holds the rank of captain as Operations Division commander and Special Operations commander at the Cherry Hill Police Department and is also an adjunct professor at Camden County College, he can still remember the career decisions that led him down those paths. Though he encourages students interested in law enforcement to also consider a career in education, he believes it is more important “to learn the law enforcement job first and move into education later in their career.” Although this may be borne out of simple prudence, it is a fact that no one talks back to the teacher with handcuffs.