criminal justice education information

Criminal Justice Today: An Introductory Text for the 21st Century (9th Edition)
Frank Schmalleger  More Info

Introduction to Criminal Justice
Robert M Bohm  More Info

Research Methods for Criminal Justice and Criminology
Michael G. Maxfield  More Info

America's Courts and the Criminal Justice System
David W. Neubauer  More Info

Introduction to Criminal Justice
Larry J. Siegel  More Info

Criminal Justice in Action: The Core
Larry K. Gaines  More Info

Criminal Justice Online

Why a Degree in Criminal Justice

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Police officers often ask three primary questions about receiving a criminal justice degree. What are the benefits of a college education? Why should I pursue a degree in criminal justice online? How can I be successful taking a criminal justice online course?

What are the benefits of a college education?

The primary reason a police officer should pursue a college education is because overwhelmingly, police officers believe in leadership by example. More important than your leadership on the job is your leadership at home. Almost all research indicates that college educated parents produce college educated children. If you are working mid-career professional, you need to make the sacrifice as an example to your children. They will follow in your footsteps. As the leader you must also provide for those at home.

According to police compensation consultants at POLICEPAY.NET, Inc., the average hourly rate over a thirty year career for a police officer is about $27.78. Thats it. Over 30 years youre going to make about a 1.5 million dollars. In the meantime, some police officers are going to work a part-time job to pay for the boat, or some other toy. And, most of the time, the part-time job falls well below the regulation pay. But, what if someone offered you a part-time job, guaranteed to pay $66 an hour, you work your own hours, but, the maximum you can earn is $182,000? And, after you had completed this part-time job, other opportunities paying more would come along.

A college education is an investment. According to many agencies across the United States pay a college bonus or a bonus tied directly to holding an intermediate or advanced Peace Officer Standards and Training certificate. For instance, Whittier Police Department, in Whittier California, pays a 4% Bonus for Intermediate POST Certificate and 5% Additional bonus for Advanced POST Certificate. A college degree is tied directly to the POST certificates. Earning a certificate requires a combination of years in service and college credits. The more college credits, the few years in service.

Amazingly, the $66 an hour rate of return is calculated on the bonus equally 8% (Whittier's is 9) paid out over the course of a 30 year career, and 15 years of retirement. And, the $66 an hour calculation presumes you needed to complete an entire 120 unit Criminal Justice degree. So, if you have some college, your rate of return is probably higher.

Research the compensation issues. You will find that many Police Departments, large and small, offer an incentive tied directly to the POST certificate or a college degree. As examples, Beverly Hills Police Department offers 2% for an Intermediate POST and 3% for an Advanced POST. Or, there is the City of Cotati, California, offers a substantial above base salary bonus for a college degree.

Every shift you push that black and white around the beat without a college degree you are losing money - a lot of money. While patrol is a great job, there are many other great jobs in law enforcement. If you want to promote or get a spot in a specialized unit a college degree is a real advantage. Indeed, Julie Slama noted in an Federal Bureau of Investigation, Law Enforcement Bulletin, that in many departments, officers need a college education to get promoted. As you search for your path to a degree in criminal justice you should consider that a Criminal Justice Online program offers you the flexibility to work your part-time job almost anytime and anywhere.  Criminal justice students often make the leap to law school.

Why should I pursue a degree in criminal justice online?

Beginning in the early 1980s, many police departments began to use Internet Protocol based police technology. Police officers are very familiar with much of the same technology that you need to obtain a criminal justice online degree. Police officers use email, word processing, access listservs and they use databases like the Dell Computer Forensics service for research. These four technology proficiencies are the crux of success in obtaining a criminal justice online degree. You already have many of the talents necessary to succeed.

Police work is a 24/7 operation. Your shift changes, you have extended end-of-watch overtime because of arrest, and then court eats away at your time. Your schedule demands you have flexibility in completing course work. An criminal justice online degree gives you some of that flexibility. Working in the online format you can access your course work, university websites and major library collections online. Assigned to the desk for a shift? During lulls you access your course work via your police departments internet connection. Got court? Take your laptop to the waiting room and access the courts wireless hotspot. Want coffee? Go to Starbucks and access their wireless hotspot. At home? Turn off the television and access criminal justice online. Criminal Justice Online is your anytime, anywhere, $66 dollar an hour part-time job.

How can I be successful taking a criminal justice online course?

There are several good points that can make your online college education smoother and more enjoyable. First, research the college or university before you sign-up. Your choice in programs is first dictated by their accreditation. You must use a regionally accredited school. Do not use a nationally or unaccredited school. Regional accreditation assures your Police Department will accept your degree as valid. Many Police Departments do not recognize a nationally accredited degree. Go to the accreditation website and read about the importance of accreditation. In addition to your police department not accepting it, it probably is not transferable and many masters programs will not accept anything but regional accreditation. Get this Regional accreditation is the only way!

Enhance your skills before you start. While police officers have an advantage because they are familiar with many of the technologies, you can hone your skills before you start. Learn some of the advanced features of your word processor. Your Criminal Justice Online course is going to require enhanced skills at editing, saving, copying, etc. Learn how to use your email to attach documents. As an example, you can go online now and use Document Processing Tutorial & Practice, provided by a major university to learn many of the skills you will need.

Many colleges and universities replace class discussions with what is called a threaded discussion. Essentially, this is you and your classmates talking back and forth through a forum. Threaded discussions, unlike chat rooms, can be done at anytime. Your classmates pose a question, you respond when you have time. Conversely, you respond to the class discussion at your convenience. You should practice this skill. You can go to the Criminal Justice Forum and pose questions, contribute to discussions and answer questions. The concept is for you to learn how to use an online forum as a means of furthering an academic discussion of an issue. Practice now will save you heart-burn later.

If someone in the street gave you an obvious bad name would you accept it? Of course not. You would dig out the information. Just as you use your police departments online databases to ferret out information on an offender, you should learn to use the Internet and particularly academic locations for research. As an example, you should read Conducting Research on the Internet. Any good Criminal Justice Online program is going to have extensive access to online databases of academically, peer reviewed articles. Whatever college or university you choose, they should have an online library similar to the one at the University of California, Berkley.

After your program you must plan your work and work your plan. Yes, it is flexible. But, you still have to do the course work. On your first day of class browse through the course requirements and assignments. What do you have to do and how long to you have to do? Break the work up, giving yourself due dates on small steps which lead to the conclusion of a requirement. For instance, if the course requires a 7-10 page research paper be submitted during the last week of the semester, begin now. Break it up. Give yourself five days to identify the topic, do your research and gather the articles. Save the articles as files on your computer or on a disk. When you have 15 minutes extra time you should work the project. Waiting in the dentist office for your teenager to have the braces fixed? Should you read the latest issue of Field and Stream or pop open your laptop and get a quarter hour of reading done?

Make time and do it. You owe to your family, your police department and yourself.

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