Sergeant Grant Jongejan knew very early in his law enforcement career that he wanted to work with the bomb squad. “But you don’t just start off as a bomb technician,” he says. His process began when he joined the police department in Edmonton, Canada, and eventually petitioned to move to SWAT, followed by the bomb squad.
If you think that working with bombs requires different skills and knowledge, you’d be right. “It’s a very technical field,” he says. “It’s heavy in science and requires lots of background studies. I had to learn chemistry, physics, and biology all over again. But I really enjoyed the science and the learning.”
And the learning doesn’t end. Jongejan notes that like other forms of technology, bombs continue to evolve and become more sophisticated, requiring law enforcement to do the same.
Going for the Master’s
Knowing that his chosen field requires continuous learning, he began pursuing a master’s degree. “I’d applied for a role in nuclear response and didn’t get it,” he explains. “I wondered if a master’s would help. I looked around and saw quite a few people at that job level had master’s degrees.”
Once the decision was made, he pursued his degree with gusto. While working full time, he began the Master’s in Emergency Management program at Capella University in 2008 and finished in 2010, just in time for the arrival of that year’s Olympic Games in Vancouver. “I was working in disaster emergency applications,” he says, “and I was using what I had just learned.”
In 2009, Jongejan was promoted to sergeant, and by 2012, he became a full-time bomb tech, the position he holds now. This was a position he’d wanted for most of his career, and he knows his master’s helped him attain it.
Besides holding his dream job, he’s also president of the Canadian Explosive Technician’s Association (CETA), a national nonprofit group focused on supporting, training, and advocating for explosive experts across the country.
Top Cop Award
As if he wasn’t busy enough with his work, family, and leadership of CETA, Jongejan has also been a volunteer high school football coach for 20 years, an accomplishment that led to his recently being named Edmonton’s top cop of 2015. “I don’t like to just sit around,” he says. The Kiwanis Club of Edmonton, which awards the honor, noted his long-time commitment to volunteering, as well as his efforts to recruit other Edmonton police department employees to volunteer.
The Value of Advanced Education
Would he recommend other people in criminal justice consider an advanced degree? Yes—with some caveats.
“I know people who think about it, and I tell them, ‘Stop thinking,’” he says. “But you have to want to do it, want to learn, not just do it for career advancement. It’s a lot of work. My thought was, ‘Hopefully it will help me in my work, but regardless, I want to do it for me.’ It makes you more of an analytical thinker, and that’s only going to make you a better officer or bomb technician.”
Learn more about Capella’s master’s and doctoral emergency management degrees.