Criminal Justice Schools by State

Probation Officers and the Community

Probation or Supervision Officers work within law enforcement agencies and court systems as a liaison between a convicted criminal and the courts. It is common for a first-time offender of a non-violent crime to be sentenced to probation instead of serving time within the prison system, because of the benefit to the overcrowded prisons as well as the criminal. Probation can be seen as a chance to rehabilitate before any further crimes are committed, and an effective probation officer may mean the difference between a repeat criminal and an expunged criminal record.

A probation officer can perform many different functions, depending on the criminal’s jurisdiction, crime and rehabilitative needs. Some probation officers work with juveniles or within a family court division, while others specialize in the monitoring and rehabilitation of adults. Many probation officers are called to testify in court, and must be able to communicate effectively as well as keep detailed and organized records. A probation officer’s duties may also include monitoring a criminal’s work history, social activities, court-ordered therapy or drug rehabilitation programs. They are able to keep in direct contact with family members and employers, assuring the courts that the criminal has adhered to the stipulations of probation that were ordered. Drug test results, class attendance, actions and behaviors of the criminal are all reported to the court by the probation officer.

Probation Officers must be at least 21 years old, not possess a criminal record, and be able to pass drug tests, written tests, physical and psychological exams and interviews. A four-year college degree is also required, especially a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice/Corrections, as well as experience in the field, especially if an applicant is considering working within the Federal Government.

Applicants for probation officer must be at least 21 years of age, no criminal record, and have excellent interviewing and writing skills. They should also pass the written tests, oral interviews, and physical and psychological examinations. The national average yearly salary for a probation officer with a four-year college degree is almost $32,000 - $48,000, depending on location. For those with a graduate degree, the salary is higher, and the opportunities to work within more specialized areas of law enforcement are easier to obtain.

Good probation officers are organized and can communicate effectively, both written and verbally, within the court system, to the criminals and any agencies involved in the probation of the criminal. Patience and objectivity are also qualities of a good probation officer, as they must deal with the stresses and frustrations that may occur while working with men and women who may object to the probation officer’s involvement in their lives.

Probation officers can make a big difference in the community, as well as in the lives of those they are monitoring. They are a liaison between a criminal and the court system, and can help point a criminal toward beneficial programs and opportunities, as well as make sure they fulfill the stipulations of their probation, and help the criminal stay out of jail.

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Shoplifting and Law Enforcement

All communities are affected by crime to various degrees. Violent crimes can instill feelings of fear and apprehension while non-violent crimes can inspire feelings of frustration and dismay. Shoplifting, a non-violent crime, has a wide-reaching effect on not only the emotions and safety of citizens, but also, it can affect their very ability to provide food, clothing and other items for themselves and family members. Law enforcement agencies have put a great deal of research and emphasis into the fight against shoplifting, as a way to keep the crime rate down and helping to reassure the economic security of private citizens and business owners. Shoplifting, as a crime, can be destructive to retail establishments, their employees and the public that ends up paying more for items that have raised prices in order to compensate for the loss of the retailer.

Shoplifters range from children and teenagers to adults and even senior citizens. According to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, there are approximately 27 million shoplifters in the United States, or 1 person in 11. 25 percent of shoplifters are children, while adults make up the remaining 75 percent. Shoplifting averages about 550,000 incidents per day, according to The National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, resulting in more than $13 billion retail losses each year.

While many may see shoplifting as a victimless crime, it does have an impact. Most people who shoplift are found to be depressed or have some other psychological disorder. So-called “professional” shoplifters may actually be addicted to the tension and “high” that is experienced while shoplifting. In the case of shoplifting, the benefit, which is rarely the actual item stolen, outweighs the risk. It is the “rush” that is experienced that makes shoplifting so hard for police officers and the court system to combat shoplifting. Much like a drug or alcohol, the punishments for shoplifting are minor, and the need to feel that anticipation may override a shoplifter’s common sense, even if they have been arrested and/or jailed by a law enforcement officer or even convicted in court.

Police officers and the court system are concerned with all sorts of different crimes, and the focus is mainly on the crimes that most severely impact their communities. While shoplifting may seem a minor offense in comparison to other crimes, it is still important to realize the impact that shoplifting has on the law enforcement agencies, the community and even on the shoplifter.

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Paralegals Not Affected by Recession?

The most recently reported unemployment rate in the U.S. is over 9 percent. Due to the recession and subsequent recovery period, jobs are harder to find, more competitive and wages are lower than in previous years. For many, the inability to secure full-time employment has given them a chance to return to school in pursuit of more education, a career change or just to have a current knowledge base for their chosen career path. Most of these individuals are choosing online colleges to secure their education, because of its flexibility and popular course offerings, as well as the lure of securing a degree or other certification in less time than with an offline degree or certification program.

online paralegal certificationAccording to Newsweek, one of the best online courses to pursue is a paralegal certificate. Since lawyers are also feeling the pinch of the recession, they are hiring more paralegals than lawyers in their firms, cutting their costs while retaining their current ability to provide legal services and representation to clients. Paralegal students are not required to participate in “in-house” instruction like other students, since the majority of the work does not require hands-on demonstration of learned skills. A paralegal certificate may be earned strictly through studying and participating in online forum discussions.

A paralegal’s job consists of investigating facts and performing research, interviewing clients or witnesses, draft legal documents such as briefs, subpoenas, depositions and motions for discovery, keeping, organizing and maintaining files and exhibits , filing documents with federal and state courts and assistance during hearings, arbitrations, mediations, meetings, closings and trials. The tools needed to fulfill these job requirements can all be learned through an online paralegal program, making it easy for the student to fulfill the education requirements and transition easily into a career that is

Becoming certified as a paralegal is just the first step, there is also a certification examination to pass and it always helps to have additional college experience, such as a two- or four-year degree. The process of receiving the paralegal certificate online actually benefits the skills needed by a paralegal. Online schools are notorious for their ability to enhance education through communication, technology and writing, skills needed in a courtroom or law office to best serve legal clients. Research is a large part of a paralegal’s job, from researching laws to researching where a file has been stored, and online schools help students learn how and where to research, especially in the legal field. Paralegals must also be organized, have good attention to detail, be adept at multi-tasking and teamwork, all of which are fostered through the online education process.

Paralegals are able to perform many job functions within the legal system, under the supervision of a lawyer or attorney. This career field has experienced growth, and is expected to continue, and a degree that may be obtained online is one of the best ways to quickly begin a career in the paralegal field. Many of the skills learned during the process of obtaining a paralegal certificate online are easily transferred to a legal firm, as well as the actual education. As a career choice, paralegals have an advantage due to the ease of being certified online, giving them a faster path into a job than many other students. Pursuing an online paralegal certificate can help create job security now and in the future.

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The Benefits of Martial Arts in Law Enforcement

Much of law enforcement and police training includes training in martial arts, particularly for instances in which an officer must detain or otherwise subdue a person without the use of lethal force. Martial arts have long been part of law enforcement and military training around the world, as well as in the U.S. Many of the “take down” tactics used by police officers are derived from martial arts from Brazil, Japan, Korea or China and are featured as a common part of any law enforcement training program.

Some of the best forms of martial arts for law enforcement include those that emphasize the importance of take downs, throws, joint locks and chokes as well as ways to avoid and counter weapon attacks. Ju Jitsu, Judo, Aikido, Hapkido all place an emphasis on these techniques, and they stress defensive moves over offensive maneuvers. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is also recommended for its fighting techniques that help to immobilize criminals on the ground.

The benefits of martial arts to a police officer go beyond the ability to control another person. Martial arts help promote the physical and emotional health of officers through physical and mental conditioning. Martial arts, in general, are beneficial to the mind through the emphasis on controlling one’s thoughts, breathing, meditation and the motor planning involved in executing some of the more complex forms or movements. Martial arts are also proven to reduce stress and anxiety, one of the biggest problems for law enforcement officers that can cause mistakes, job burn-out, violent tendencies or other issues.

Martial arts also help to increase a person’s inner strength and self-confidence. Sports or other physical activities are known to increase mental and assist with emotional processing and cognition. For a law enforcement officer, this confidence helps in the field by helping to promote an image of self-assurance that is urgently needed when dealing with criminals and illegal activities. Sometimes, it may be the knowledge that an officer can practice self-defense, more than the actual activity that helps boost confidence, but, it is this confidence that comes through in a police officer’s demeanor, posture, eye contact and speech that sets the tone for any exchange with another person who may be causing trouble.

Leadership qualities also develop from martial arts training and can help with the career and professional goals of law enforcement officers. Being seen as an authority figure can make the difference in any exchanges that happen with criminals and being seen as a leader within the ranks of other officers can help with any career aspirations a law enforcement officer may have.

Martial arts have a positive impact on the lives and careers of many police and law enforcement officers, in all levels of their careers. The physical, mental and emotional benefits of studying a non-lethal method of physical engagement can be long-lasting and beneficial in many aspects of an officer’s life and career.

Earn Your Law Enforcement Degree Online

Explore these accredited online Law Enforcement Degree opportunities below and request free no obligation information from any that interest you.

We recommend getting information from several schools so you can compare the programs, costs, time commitments and financial aid options.

Kaplan University

Kaplan University

If you are seeking to advance your career in law enforcement, private security, or corrections or to pursue entry-level opportunities, Kaplan's online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice program will help you meet your career goals.

Get more information about this School

American InterContinental University Online

American InterContinental University Online

The Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Law Enforcement is offered by American InterContinental University to students with aspirations to pursue career paths that can include DEA Agent, State Insurance Fraud Investigator and many others.

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Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University

The Master of Science in Criminal Justice with an Emphasis in Law Enforcement is designed for students seeking to expand their understanding of the law, social order, and justice.

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Digital Crime Evidence

Computer forensics specialists are part of an investigation team of law enforcement professionals who are able to retrieve digital evidence from devices like cellular phones, PDAs, computers and other electronic data storage devices. Much of this information can be used as evidence that can help to identify and possibly prosecute a criminal.

Digital crime evidence can sometimes even be extracted from deleted files and drives. Approximately 80 to 90 percent of legal cases today involve some sort of digital evidence. Text messages, digital calendars and cellular phone call history can place a suspect at a specific location, at specific times, involving a person, or exonerating a person from the crime in question. E-mails, images, and video can be produced as evidence to motive, as well as the state of mind of a suspect. Even updates on social media websites can be labeled “digital evidence,” as they show a time and place and other details of a person’s life in a public forum. Devices like that “Flasher Box,” can also help retrieve information from digital devices. It allows direct access to everything stored in memory, such as incoming and outgoing calls, text messages and deleted files in a quick an easy manner.

Digital crime evidence is helpful in many different criminal cases, but especially in fighting child abuse and child pornography. Many law enforcement agencies are using computer forensics devices in order to help with the prosecution of individuals who profit off of the abuse of children and have straightforward ways of getting rid of the electronic or digital proof of their criminal actions. With these devices and the knowledge of a Computer Forensics Specialist, more and more digital evidence is being uncovered, and more criminals are being prosecuted.

The ways in which digital crime evidence is discovered is growing as fast as the evidence itself. People’s dependence upon their electronics to help enhance and schedule their lives, as well as communicate with others is growing rapidly. It is the digital foot prints that are left by the use of these devices that enable Computer Forensics Specialists to use the data stored to keep criminals away from even our most precious citizens.

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Foot Prints and Impression Evidence in Crime Scenes

Each and every inch of a crime scene may contain materials and evidence that can help solve crimes. Crime scene investigation includes the documentation and processing of evidence including bodily fluids, finger prints, weapons and tools, and sometimes, even the details of the size, style or brand of a shoe of a potential criminal. With the abundance of information available from researchers and forensic investigators who are linking DNA evidence to crimes, many of the older techniques for crime scene investigation may seem outdated. However, when there is no DNA evidence to link a criminal to a crime, or the criminal has no information retrieved from former crimes, it’s the older techniques of evidence collection and documentation that are relied upon in order to discover, indict or prosecute an alleged criminal.

With Impression Evidence, evidence created when a hard object pressed against softer material, leaving an impression, such as grass, mud, and paint around a window or car that is part of the crime scene. This evidence usually falls into three different categories: foot prints or shoe impressions, tool markings or tire tread impressions.

The foot prints that are found in crime scenes generally fall into three of their own categories: visible, latent or plastic. Visible foot prints are those that can be seen by the naked eye, usually due to the criminal walking through materials, blood or other substances and then stepping on a flat surface like a tile floor or patio. These prints are unmistakable as part of the crime scene because they literally contain parts of the crime scene. Latent foot prints are similar to visible foot prints in that the criminal had to walk through crime scene materials, but the materials themselves may not be detected upon a regular inspection, and special lighting and dyes may be necessary in order to see the full foot print. In order to process both of these types of foot prints, the evidence is photographed and sometimes transferred onto plastic or other materials in order to be catalogued as evidence.

Plastic foot prints are those that normally occur outside, such as a shoe print left in mud. Plastic foot prints are also the prints that are used with castings, as photographs are less likely to include as much detail as a replica of the print itself. Most castings are created using materials such as Plaster of Paris, paraffin wax or, most commonly, dental stone.

As any educated Crime Scene Investigator will testify, the majority of clues within a crime scene go undetected by those not trained in crime scene investigation. It is common for investigators to rely on the evidence collected through blood, hair or other DNA samples as a way to identify criminals or link them to crime scenes. When those samples are absent or there is no criminal information that matches the samples, it’s the tangible evidence collected by a crime scene investigator that begins to paint a picture of the crime’s timeline, events and even its perpetrator.

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Household Drugs

Drugs come in many forms, from street drugs like cocaine or marijuana to prescription painkillers, muscle relaxers or anti-anxiety medications. There are also drugs that are within the reach of our children at all times, sometimes hidden under our kitchen sinks, in the spice rack or even out on the counter or for sale at local convenience stores. If a person, whether an adult or child, is seeking a way to escape, catch a buzz or get high, its easier than we may think to obtain the chemicals needed.

While many allergy or cold medications are regulated at local grocery or drug stores, the ability to turn those medications into crystal meth is still within the reach of the ordinary person. Crystal meth contains chemicals like rubbing alcohol and drain cleaner, in addition to the ephedrine needed to manufacture the drug. Methamphetamine abuse is rampant, and the crimes committed either while high or in the act of procuring the chemicals needed sometimes require special police officer task forces in order to battle the manufacturing and distribution of this drug.

In the “over the counter” pharmacy, there are also ways to emulate the hallucinogenic affects of LSD, PCP or ketamine. If a person consumes enough of certain cough syrups, they “can produce hallucinations or dissociative, ‘out-of-body’ experiences…and can cause other adverse health effects.”

Nutmeg, the same spice that is used to jazz up eggnog and holiday cookies, is also known as myristicin or myristic acid, a deliriant compound that can cause a person to hallucinate or experience a euphoric high when taken in large doses. Solvents such as paint thinner, gasoline or permanent markers may be inhaled for a high, and the propellants from whipped cream, hair spray or canned air used to clean electronics may also be inhaled to produce a light-headed euphoria. Incense is also making headlines in the “over the counter drug” world. K2, sold in many convenience stores, is being smoked as a legal alternative to marijuana. The company that manufactures K2 sprays the herbal blend with synthetic THC (said to be 10 times stronger than marijuana), giving the same high as marijuana, and potentially damaging organs in the process. Tests on the effects many of these chemicals have not been documented, and little is known regarding the long-term effects of consumption of K2, nutmeg or cough syrups. Inhalants are well known to cause brain damage and death, however, and should be monitored for their misuse by parents and caregivers.

Since all of these household drugs are legal, it is nearly impossible for police and law enforcement officials to curb their use. The danger in these drugs is that the long-term effects of their use have not been studied, and the behaviors that accompany the use of household drugs can lead to criminal behavior, illness or even death.

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So, You Want to Be a Police Officer?

It is the police officer who patrols the streets, making his or her presence known to criminals as well as those who may potentially need help during dangerous or even non-threatening situations. Much of the time, when an officer's car is spotted, people check the speed of their car or do a mental check of their own actions, not understanding that while a law enforcement officer's job is to prevent crime, they are not waiting to arrest the average citizen for crimes not committed. A law enforcement or police officer is trained to wear many hats during her or his day, from advocate to security officer and many other roles in between. It is a tough, but rewarding career that ultimately keeps the world a safer place.

The police officer's day runs in shifts, with the added benefit of being "on call," sometimes extending their days well past 12 hours "on the clock." Officers risk their lives and spend little time with family and friends in order to keep the lives of people as safe as possible. Officers are required to maintain certain physical requirements, so they have to exercise daily. They also must attend briefings or roll calls, in which they are kept up-to-date on any issues in the area, within the police department or other information that may help or interfere with their work. From there, they get into their patrol car or other means of transportation, and actually begin their day.

Police officers must dress as if they are walking targets, including bullet proof vests and belts that hold handcuffs, non-lethal weapons, a gun with ammunition and other objects that must be readily accessible in case they are ever attacked. Officers may spend a great deal of time in patrol cars, looking for speeders and drunk drivers, but they also patrol neighborhoods, helping to keep sidewalks safe for children. They serve an important role in the fights against domestic violence, drugs and other crimes. In between fighting these crimes, if an incident occurs, the police officer must file paperwork, testify in court, and do her or his part to uphold the legal issues pertaining to the act of law enforcement itself. Law enforcement officers commit their lives to helping others, day after day.

Becoming a law enforcement officer may have various requirements depending on location, but a law enforcement training is recommended. Experience in the military, private security or even public safety may also be beneficial. Law enforcement officers are required to be in good physical shape and must pass a civil service test, background check, physical exam, lie detector and/or drug test. Many police departments are also looking for recruits who can work with computers and technology in order to meet the demand of technology-based crimes.

Law enforcement officers work long hours, face dangerous situations, can be unappreciated by the public, yet are always willing to serve those inclined to pass judgment on their lives and career choices. If it was not for police officers and the work they do, much of the peace of mind that people take for granted would not be possible. It is a noble career, giving back to the community by helping to keep crime rates down and peace of mind a part of everybody's lives.

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