National Safety Month: MISCJA Graduates leading the way in the Atlanta Police Department | Georgia State Online (2024)

June is National Safety Month, a time to recognize the individuals who work to promote safety in our communities. Two such individuals – Majors Ailen Mitchell and Ralph Woolfolk IV of the Atlanta Police Department – are utilizing the knowledge and skills they developed in Georgia State Online’s Criminal Justice Administration Master’s Program (MISCJA Program) to reduce crime in Atlanta.

Major Ailen Mitchell

National Safety Month: MISCJA Graduates leading the way in the Atlanta Police Department | Georgia State Online (1)

Major Ailen Mitchell is Commander over the Atlanta Police Department’s Special Operations Section, which includes the Motorcycle, Mounted Patrol, Aviation, Accident Investigation, S.W.A.T. and Strategic Response Units.

Mitchell learned about Georgia State Online’s MISCJA Program through his participation in the Atlanta Police Leadership Institute (APLI), a leadership program that partners with Georgia State University to allow law enforcement officers to earn a leadership certificate. Mitchell was able to apply credits he earned through the APLI toward his master’s degree, and the online degree pathway allowed him to balance his professional and personal demands.

“Because of my police department assignment, I was looking for as much flexibility as possible,” Mitchell said. “My daughter was also 4 years old at the time, so the online program was perfect.”

Mitchell completed his master’s degree in 2021, and he has since been able to apply some of the key takeaways from the program to his role in the Atlanta Police Department. He cited learning about and completing CliftonStrengths, an assessment that helps individuals identify their strengths and weaknesses, as beneficial for both his own personal development and the development of individuals on his team.

“That really helped me as a leader and a mentor, because I was able to have my mentees and direct reports take the test,” Mitchell said.

In 2023, Mitchell received the Atlanta Police Department’s Sworn Commander of the Year Award and was appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp to serve a four-year term on the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council as one of 22 voting members. The council serves as an advisory board and votes on rules and regulations that apply to all law enforcement officers in the State of Georgia.

In his roles as a Zone 2 Assistant Commander and Commander, Mitchell led the Zone 2 team to earn the City of Atlanta’s Crime Reduction Award in 2021 and 2022. The award is presented to the zone that achieves the greatest reduction of crime among all zones in the City of Atlanta.

Major Ralph Woolfolk IV

National Safety Month: MISCJA Graduates leading the way in the Atlanta Police Department | Georgia State Online (2)

Major Ralph Woolfolk is Commander over the Atlanta Police Department’s Violent Crimes Interdiction Section, which encompasses the Narcotics, Gangs, Atlanta Proactive Enforcement Interdiction and K-9 Units. Woolfolk is tasked by Chief Schierbaum with carrying out the Chief's vision in tackling gangs, guns and drugs in the City of Atlanta.

In January, he was named among the Georgia State Alumni Association 40 Under 40 Class of 2024. Throughout his 17-year career in law enforcement, Woolfolk has prioritized evidence-based policing.

While working alongside Dean Dabney, Professor and MISCJA Coordinator for Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Woolfolk became interested in furthering his knowledge of evidence-based and data-driven approaches to law enforcement. Ultimately, he chose to enroll in the MISCJA Program.

“Dean Dabney’s discussion of the program and what the program had to offer enhanced my enthusiasm for research and evidence based strategies and best practices,” Woolfolk said.

The program met Woolfolk’s expectations by providing a knowledge base of applicable theories and methods of data analysis. Woolfolk said that combining data and evidence with real-world policing experience is the most effective approach to law enforcement.

He pointed to these strategies and practices as a driving force behind his section’s other successes in 2023, including Atlanta’s ranking as the No. 3 city in the country for violent crime reduction by the Major Cities Chiefs Association.

Woolfolk’s team also contributed to the City of Atlanta’s 2023 Crime Reduction Award presented to Zone 1 for their work investigating a May 2023 murder using an in-depth analysis of the scene. The department held 18 individuals accountable and observed a 22% reduction in violence in that area.

“The [theories and methods] were certainly impactful and influential, and I have utilized all of those models and strategies to cultivate what we've been able to do here in the Atlanta Police Department in the violent crime section,” Woolfolk said. “We’re happy to have accomplished a 23% reduction in violent crime last year.”

If you’re interested in learning more about the MISCJA Program, contact an enrollment coach today.

National Safety Month: MISCJA Graduates leading the way in the Atlanta Police Department | Georgia State Online (2024)
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