NMU students talk DEA

Northern Michigan University criminal justice students were given a firsthand account of what it takes to be a DEA agent.

Judy McCarver, who has since retired from the field, discussed the inherent dilemma of protecting citizens freedom while enforcing the law. She explained some of the challenges in defining freedom, especially when it comes to drugs.

Prescription drug abuse has been on the rise recently, and policing it is not an easy task.

“It transcends every demographic. It’s two parent homes where this is happening. It’s families with big incomes, or double income families. It’s people with two cars in the driveway and nice houses. It just transcends every demographic of what we see as the ‘traditional’ or ‘typical’ drug abuser,” explained McCarver, who was a DEA agent for seven years.

In addition to detailing some of the current issues in the field, McCarver noted that prospective agents don’t necessarily have to receive a degree in criminal justice. Some of her fellow agents held degrees in fields like history. The training and a strong commitment for duty remains paramount.
“Some people say, ‘Well it’s so idealistic to want to be a police officer. What are you going to do, clean the streets? Go be a crime fighter?’ You could argue that that’s idealistic, but if you have a passion and you want to be [an agent], and you say ‘I have a passion for this and I want to make lives better,’ I think that’s great. I think that’s a place to start. But get your education, and research these agencies, and find out what they do,” advised McCarver.

Students were able to ask questions about issues like needle sharing programs, legalization of certain drugs, and the role law enforcement plays in society.