With a background in federal law enforcement and experience in the U.S. Organized Crime Strike Force, Dr. Patricia Griffin joins Holy Family University as the new Director of the Criminal Justice master’s program. Dr. Griffin sat down with Holy Family University to discuss what sparked her interest in studying criminal justice, her current research initiatives, and what she likes to do for fun.
HFU: Can you tell us more about your background and how you came to Holy Family University?
PG: “I was born and raised in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia. My personal beliefs, academic interests, and professional experiences are closely intertwined with a zeal for justice that I learned through the lived experiences of my parents, the Sisters of St. Francis who taught me in elementary school, and the Ignatian education ideals that I was introduced to as an undergraduate student at Saint Joseph’s University.”
“I completed an undergraduate degree in Sociology from Saint Joseph’s University, an MA in Sociology from the University of Delaware and a PhD in Criminal Justice from Temple University. I have federal law enforcement experience working as part of the U.S. Organized Crime Strike Force. I have served as an adjunct faculty member in Sociology and Criminal Justice for over 30 years. I am excited to join the criminal justice faculty and senior leadership at Holy Family University to advance an academically rigorous and professionally meaningful graduate program.”
HFU: Was there a specific incident that made you interested in the Criminal Justice field?
PG: “I was in graduate school pursuing a degree in Sociology with an emphasis on Law—specifically Environmental Law. Increasingly, I learned that most of the acts that I was led to study, those harmful behaviors associated with cancer clusters, reproductive maladies, and pollution were most appropriately understood as white collar crime, corporate crime, and organized crime. In the course of carrying out research for my master’s thesis, I was recruited to work as a criminal investigative analyst for the New York State Senate Select Committee on Crime, and the U.S. Organized Crime Strike Force. Upon completion of my master’s degree, I was offered a full-time position as a Special Agent for the Office of Organized Crime and Labor Racketeering. These events contributed to my desire to learn more about the intersectionality of justice and social control efforts through the lens of a criminologist and the criminal justice system.”
HFU: Could you share a few goals you hope to accomplish with the Criminal Justice program for the upcoming year?
PG: “My immediate aim is to create awareness of our graduate program in criminal justice. We know longer want this to be our ‘best kept secret.’ This will include outreach to the existing undergraduate students, contacting recent graduates, and our alums. Relatedly, I want to create a buzz in the community of criminal justice professionals. We plan to hold several symposia and professional association trainings to showcase the campus and our graduate programs. My goal is to build an Advisory Board. Finally, my goal is to facilitate a program review of the graduate criminal justice program that will provide internal and external reviews of our existing strengths and opportunities to advance meaningful curricula and the University strategic plan.”
HFU: You recently returned from Kenya where you were collecting data for a research project examining the factors influencing alcohol use by police while on duty. What was that experience like?
PG: “I am a member of the Global Law Enforcement Public Health Association. This international association brings together scholars and practitioners across the globe who seek to build upon the capacity of law enforcement and public health officials to engage in harm reduction policies and programs.”
“My work in Kenya is co-sponsored by the United Nations Office of Drug Control and the Kenyan National Police Service. I am serving as the Senior International Research Consultant on a rapid assessment and amelioration of substance use by officers in the Kenyan National Police. This is a notable and forward thinking effort on the part of the Kenyan National Police Service to address issues of officer health and wellness. My research interest and the invitation to contribute on this project is an outgrowth of my work to provide outreach, education, and training to police and first responders in the U.S. and, more specifically, my research on opioid use by police officers in the U.S.”
HFU: Do you have any hobbies you like to do for fun outside of Holy Family?
PG: “I enjoy hiking along the Wissahickon Creek and in Valley Forge park, exploring Philadelphia neighborhoods for music and cuisine, and reading for enjoyment on the beach late in the afternoon when the sun is high in the sky and the sand is warm. I also play golf for fun and recently joined a women’s golf league.”