What do you want to be when you grow up? It’s a question that adults ask children all the time. Answers sometimes include firefighter, doctor, astronaut, and teacher. When Ranetta Cruse ’14, ’15, ’17, ’21 was a child, her answer was police officer. “An uncle of mine was a police officer, and I remember admiring what he did as a child,” says Cruse.
Her desire remained the same as she grew. While serving in the United States Air Force, she stepped toward her dreams as an adult learner. “I was a Security Force Officer, which is a military police officer,” and after the military tried other paths -- as a civilian contractor, a Force Protection Supervisor, and a Field Training Officer in Kuwait. When she returned to the United States, she started a small security company, but her dream of being a police officer persisted. “I woke up one day and said, ‘it’s now or never,’ and I started my search for police academies.” Cruse chose Reinhardt.
“I signed up, and the rest is history.”
Cruse completed Reinhardt’s Public Safety Institute Police Academy Program in October 2014. Reinhardt’s Police Academy is certified by the Georgia Peace Officers Standards and Training (P.O.S.T.) Council and delivers the Basic Law Enforcement Training Course. This training gives students the basic skills needed for entry-level employment in law enforcement. Completion of the program results in the Georgia basic police officer certification and 15 semester hours of credit towards an associate degree in criminal justice. While working toward her certification, Cruse served as class leader and received the Public Safety Institute Director’s Award. This marked the beginning of Cruse’s journey.
“Policing has changed over the years,” says Cruse. “To move up, higher education and advanced degrees are necessary in today’s law enforcement. You have to set yourself apart from everyone else.” So, Cruse returned to Reinhardt to complete her degrees.
Cruse graduated with an Associate of Science in Criminal Justice in 2015, followed by a Bachelor of Criminal Justice in 2017 – both online. Finally, in August 2021, Cruse earned a Master of Public Administration (MPA) through Reinhardt’s Executive Command and Leadership-MPA Program. The Executive Command program consists of online and mandatory in-person classes taught by seasoned law enforcement managers and chief executives. The program also satisfies training requirements for qualified individuals to earn management and executive career development certifications through the Georgia P.O.S.T. Council.
Trey Drawdy, director of Reinhardt’s Public Safety Institute, proudly says, “I like to call her our four-time Eagle because she’s been through our entire Public Safety Institute program. She started out by graduating from our police academy, went on to earn two undergraduate degrees, and wrapped it up with a Master of Public Administration. She exemplifies persistence and the type of success that is possible with the programs we offer at Reinhardt.”
Twelve-hour shift work, out-of-pocket expenses and long-distance commutes were among her many challenges, Cruse shared, but "Reinhardt’s faculty stood by my side and helped me keep my sights on graduation. After the Police Academy, I came back because I liked the people – Trey (Drawdy), Jeff (Black) and the friendly and welcoming personnel,” says Cruse. “You want to be somewhere where people treat you like family. At Reinhardt, it felt like home and like family with each and every moment I had with the staff.”
Following her graduation this year, Cruse transitioned from a patrol officer to Senior Investigator at the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office in the Anti-Corruption Unit. She also proudly serves on the Dignitary Protection Team for Fani T. Willis, District Attorney for Fulton County, Georgia.
Most importantly, Cruse is the proud mother of Jeremiah, who watched his mother persevere and embody the committed role of lifelong learner. Jeremiah is now pursuing his own dreams at Albany State University. As loving competitors, Cruse and Jeremiah challenge each other to reach higher, achieve more, and dream big.
Now soaring as a Reinhardt Eagle, “I feel like I’m larger than life,” Cruse declares.
Thank you for your service, Sr. Investigator Cruse, and for choosing Reinhardt University. We are proud of you and your accomplishments – and Jeremiah’s!