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Enrollment in collegiate criminal justice programs up, but local law enforcement recruiting down

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RADFORD (WSLS 10) - Enrollment to criminal justice programs at southwest Virginia colleges is up, but interest in working for some police departments in the same areas is down.

With many local law enforcement agencies focused on recruiting, the contrast can be frustrating.

Radford University Professor Stephen Owen said enrollment in the school's program has been steady.

"Our department is doing a lot of active recruiting on our end to try to grow our program further," Owen said. "It's definitely a program on the move."

Other area schools see the same trend. Ferrum College's criminal justice program doubled its number of students in the last 10 years. And Lynchburg College had record number enrolled in the criminology major this year.

Students said reasons they don't stay in southwest Virginia after college include wanting to be closer to their home towns or the hope of joining a larger department than ones found near schools.

There are about 600 students in the criminal justice department at Radford University, but statistics show many of them will take jobs in northern Virginia or Washington, D.C.