Christopher T. Landavazo

Statement of Purpose

Doctoral Journey - Day 1

Doctoral Journey - Day 1

When I was 11 year’s old, I was violently assaulted by a drunk Caucasian woman in the middle of the night on an Amtrak train going from San Bernardino to Gallup New Mexico. I was traveling alone. The woman used every racial slur imaginable in a train car packed with adults of every background, yet no one came to render assistance. I recall holding fast to the armrest, trying to keep her from forcing me out of my seat. With a bludgeoning blow, she won by busting my lip open. She did not want to sit next to a “wetback,” and she thought it best to use anger, discrimination, and hate to force me out of my seat. I spent the rest of the night in the observation car, feeling troubled and different, sobbing myself to sleep.

The next morning, train officials summoned police officers to the Flagstaff train station and the woman was escorted off the train. As a child, I was relieved to see the police. To me, they were a symbol of law, order, and protection. That day, I swore that I would never allow myself to be like one of the docile passengers on the train that night who, although fully aware of what was happening, stood by and did nothing for me. Rather, I wanted to be one of the officers who stood up, took action and dedicated their lives to the fight for civil and human rights, peace, and equality.

Nearly 30 years later, I have served as a law enforcement officer for 15 years. Prior to entering the ranks of law enforcement, I served eight years in the United States Navy. I am a 3rd generation American, and I became the first person in my family to graduate from college. With the aid of the GI Bill, I pursued a Masters of Leadership at the University of Southern California and awarded my Master degree in 2010. In addition to becoming an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, I also founded the non-profit organization Cops 4 Causes which serves as a conduit between law enforcement and the communities law enforcement serves.

Sadly, over the past 10 years, I have been witness to the deterioration of trust in law enforcement officers and the Criminal Justice System. Today, the fabric of the “Great Experiment” is being torn apart by perceived and real divides in racial equity and treatment of minorities by the American Criminal Justice System. Our ability to maintain a peaceful society will be predicated on the manner in which we address these great divides in perceived and actual racial inequalities.

In my continued quest to fight for civil and human rights, peace and equality, I have chosen to pursue a Doctorate of Education in Organizational Leadership at Brandman University. I have given much thought to the rigors of this program and my ultimate desire to become a recognized law enforcement expert on race relations to promote equity within the criminal justice system. Through my work, I seek to develop programs to address the emergent needs of the United States Government to address the highly volatile issues of race, race relations and perceived police abuse of police powers.

I will accomplish these goals by partnering with existing professionals who are working on restorative justice initiatives that have lacked law enforcement involvement. The goal will be to sharply focus on causation factors of imprisonment such as poverty, lack of education and perceived bias policing practices.

It is with great thought that I share these intentions with you. I am prepared to take this next step in the commitment I have made to my career and mission in life. Through my work, I will foster healthy and effective relations between law enforcement and the communities they serve as we face these very contemporary and new domestic challenges regarding race, civil rights, and justice.