by Bethel University
John Drake, Interim Nashville Chief of Police, said the criminal justice program at Bethel helped pave the way for him.
"I want to say thank you to Bethel for all that it's done to pave the way for me and people like me," Drake stated. "I would never have gotten where I am today if I had not received my degree from Bethel."
Drake, a native of Nashville, has served with the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department for over three decades. Currently, Drake is on a list of five finalists for the Nashville Police Chief position. Drake started in the patrol division and has worked in various areas and leadership positions over the years, including the vice narcotics division, the Police Athletic League and the Office of Professional Accountability. He most recently led the Community Services Bureau, which oversees the department's eight neighborhood precincts.
Since August of this year, he has filled the role of interim chief, and during his time, he has impacted the Nashville community by bridging the gap between citizens and police officers. "Our officers are walking in neighborhoods, getting to know people, building relationships and rapport and letting people get to know each other," Drake said. "And as a result, there has been a decrease in crime."
Drake said that a supervisor once told him that he needed to get his degree if he ever wanted to move into upper management in the future. From there, he started looking at different options, but life was busy.
"I was a Lieutenant at the time and busy investigating homicides, other crimes and still trying to be serviceable to the community and did not have a lot of time."
Drake learned about Bethel's criminal justice program through a recruiter who presented information to the department and decided to check it out. He had looked at other programs, but they did not fit what he was looking for.
“Bethel offered me the opportunity and flexibility to continue working in law enforcement while advancing my career,” he stated, "I was able to go at my own pace."
Even though the classes are online, the program offers ways to interact and connect with classmates.
"There was something special about Bethel," Drake said. "Through the classes, I was able to interact with others and gain different perspectives. Not only did I learn from top professionals, but I was able to apply that knowledge to the real world, look for solutions, solve problems and help communities."
Drake recalls a memorable experience during his time at Bethel and walking across the stage to receive his hard-earned diploma. He graduated summa cum laude in 2013 with his Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice.
"I wanted to march even though my parents had passed away—I knew they would have been proud,” Drake said. "I remember walking into the auditorium with the music playing in the background and being grateful for the opportunity to graduate and walk to get my diploma. It still means a lot to me now."
Click here to learn more about the top-ranked Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice.