Since graduating from Truett McConnell University (TMU) in 2020, Donald Bonner is one step closer to meeting a long-time goal: to be sworn in as a trooper with the Georgia State Patrol.
His desire to make a difference in the lives of others led to his desire to be a trooper. “When I was younger, I witnessed a horrible interaction with my mother and an officer that impacted me,” he said. “I can’t change what happened to my mother that day, but it made me want to pursue a career in law enforcement and be the change.”
Years later, Bonner was part of a mentoring opportunity where he shadowed Deputy Justin Sanders of the Jeff Davis County Sherriff’s Office. “I really enjoyed it,” he said. “Deputy Sanders made a huge impact on me.”
Bonner, who earned a B.S. in Criminal Justice, is already implementing the skills he learned at TMU to adapt to the diverse environments he experiences both in training and currently as a dispatch officer for the Georgia State Patrol.
“Professors at TMU helped me to look at each situation in a different way,” said Bonner. “Not everything is done in a Christian way, but you can always walk that way even in law enforcement.”
“I am so proud of his hard work and determination,” said J. Marie Griffin-Taylor, Dean of The Michael Sattler School of Public Service and pictured with Bonner above. Taylor continues to stay connected with her graduates, their success, and also invites them to speak to current students.
Recently, Bonner came and shared with one of the criminal justice classes at TMU. “He [Bonner] engaged with students about learning and participating in the “behind-the-scenes” work of law enforcement,” said Taylor. “The students benefited from hearing how their
degree will help guide them in their future pursuits from someone who once sat in their seat.”
State Patrol bound
“Going to trooper school is something I am so excited about,” said Bonner. “I want to be a trooper because of their professionalism and their high standards. Troopers come in contact with a lot of people on the road, over a span of several counties. The more people I come in contact with, the more opportunities I have to make a difference in the lives of others.”
Bonner’s training will begin in January and last for 32 weeks, which will include an extensive amount of classroom time, intense tactical training, and field training.
His current position as dispatcher, allows him to experience various aspects of the department. “I remember a call when a trooper needed back-up,” he explained. “His voice was clearly in distress, and it was the first time I realized just how real and serious incidents can be. Thankfully, the trooper was okay, but it really helped me understand just how dangerous the job can be.”
Bonner has also been given the opportunity to learn from troopers who are on duty, allowing him to realize what area he wants to work in. “I want to work an active shift, somewhere with high drug activity. My goal is to be a part of the Criminal Interdiction Unit (CIU).” The CIU focuses primarily on drug patrol.
The world we live in today
Just recently, Bonner faced his first time in a discriminatory situation with he and his training officer. During a traffic stop, he received racial slurs from one of the suspects in custody. “I have always expected the derogatory police comments, but this was my first time facing racial comments. What was crazy is that I am black. It’s just not something I expected to hear from someone who is the same race as me. But, I kept my professionalism in that moment. I didn’t pay attention to the negativity and I didn’t react or respond. I know they are just wanting a reaction, and I’m not giving one. As a law enforcement officer, we are not here to harm people but to enforce the law.”
Preparation for the future in law enforcement
While Georgia’s state agencies do not require troopers to have a bachelor’s degree, Bonner said feels certain it will help him in the long run. “As I begin trooper school, my time at TMU will most definitely help show the state agency how dedicated I am. It has also prepared me to face the many grueling hours of classroom time and studying.”
One of his most memorable moments at TMU, was the annual mock disaster drill. “My role was the chief person in charge of the accident. We were observed by White County emergency and law enforcement officers who then provided feedback on certain things.”
Although it was a mock disaster drill, Bonner said he “was able to learn a lot and understand the importance of staying calm and handling every aspect of the situation.”
A student athlete on the track and field team, Bonner also feels his time as an athlete prepared him “mentally and physically for a job that can, and will, be strenuous at times.”
Through the rankings
Bonner’s advice for upcoming criminal justice majors is to “know what you are getting yourself into. A lot of things will shock you, regardless of the field you decide to pursue.”
“My advice,” he added, “would be to prepare yourself for the good and the bad in every situation.”
Jenny Gregory is the Digital Marketing Specialist for TMU’s Marketing and Communications Dept.
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