Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Do Police Officers Go To Law School

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The Sante Fe Texas Shooting

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In 2018, in Texas, Cruz responded to another school shooting, this one at Santa Fe High School, in Santa Fe, Texas.

In that case, the shooter was confronted by two police officers who were stationed at the school, according to a local sheriff. The officers, one of whom was shot during the attack, hemmed the gunman into one classroom and saved lives by drawing his attention and fire, the sheriff said.

About 30 minutes after the shooting started, the 17-year-old suspect surrendered to law enforcement. A total of 10 people were killed and 13 were wounded. Multiple explosive devices were also found at or near the school, officials said.

The Trace, a nonprofit newsroom that focuses on gun issues, found that in Santa Fe and in three other prominent shootings in 2018 Kentuckys Marshall County High School in January Floridas Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February Marylands Great Mills High School in March attackers stormed campuses despite the presence of armed guards. In each case, guards failed to stop the shooter from killing.

Bachelor’s Degree In Law Enforcement

A law enforcement degree at the bachelor’s level typically takes four years to complete and can include many different topics or subjects. There are prototypical degrees such as criminal justice, criminology and law enforcement studies. But there are other majors that can hold police officers in good stead. For example, graduates with a degree in accounting are excellent candidates for a career in white collar crime investigations, while computer science majors can have an advantage if they’re interested in pursuing a career in computer forensics or cyber crimes.

Those in a bachelor’s degree program in a law-related field can expect to find courses like these:

Police Ethics

Complete Coursework & Field Training

The coursework involved in a program that leads to work as a police officer can vary depending upon the institution and the degree level. For instance, those in a training academy will dive right into the nitty-gritty of everyday police work and not touch on general education requirements, such as you would find in an associate degree program. In both the associate and the bachelors program, students will encounter not only general education courses and several possible electives, but they will also focus on the core courses for police officers, such as those in criminal justice, ethics, corrections systems, communication, and more. Heres a good idea of courses you might encounter, either in the core curriculum of the degree program or at the police academy:

  • Patrol Procedures
Step 5

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Doctor Of Juridical Science

Must be obtained after a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree.

The SJD is the most advanced degree in the field of law, typically pursued only by aspiring legal scholars. Most aspiring attorneys only complete a JD, allowing them to practice law professionally students who go on to earn an SJD often become researchers or writers of legal studies.

A typical SJD requires coursework in topics like law and humanity, American legal theory, and legal scholarship. Additionally, students must give a series of colloquial presentations, complete an oral examination, and develop and defend an original dissertation. While completion times vary, most SJD programs last 3-4 years.

What Is the Difference Between an SJD and a Ph.D. in Law?

SJD and Ph.D. law programs are similar, and major universities tend to offer one or the other as their most advanced law degree. In many cases, schools distinguish an SJD from a Ph.D. in law in name alone, as the programs share many of the same types of courses and graduation requirements. For example, Harvard Law School offers an SJD, while Yale Law School offers a Ph.D. in law.

Most SJDs and Ph.D. law programs require a minimum of three years of full-time study. Both degrees examine the philosophical study of law through first-year coursework in legal scholarship, research methodologies, and social science and humanities disciplines. To earn the degree, students must complete qualifying examinations and teaching experiences and present a dissertation.

Police Officer Titles And Career Concentrations

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Police officers go by many names and titles, including law enforcement officer, patrol officer, peace officer, public safety officer, state trooper, and uniform patrol police officer.

These are generic names for the same occupation. You can get more specific by incorporating rank. Officers, troopers, deputies, and corporals are all names for lower-ranking officers in different types of agencies. Sergeants, lieutenants, captains, and so on up to chief, commissioner, or sheriff are titles for higher-ranking officers in different jurisdictions.

These ranks are separate from police officer concentrations, which are numerous. Here are 11:

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Impress At Your Police Officer Interview

Many hopeful applicants will be offered an interview during the hiring process. This is an opportunity to get to know you on a personal level, and sometimes that can be enough to land you that coveted job. Here are some questions you might encounter during that interview:

  • What would you do if you witnessed another officer commit a crime?
  • If a superior officer told you to do something you knew was against regulations, what would you do?
  • What de-escalation techniques would you use to prevent a physical altercation?
  • Would you be able to arrest a family member if you had to?
  • Describe a time your ethics were tested. How did you handle the situation?
  • This job can be emotionally challenging. How would you reach out for help if needed?
  • Give an example of a time when the right thing contradicted the rules of a certain situation. How did you handle that?
  • What do you consider your greatest strengths in communication? How about your greatest weakness?
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    Places To Earn A Law Enforcement Education

    Formal education can expand your job options in the law enforcement field. Here are a few of the institutions where you can earn a certificate, degree, or experience in criminal justice:

    • Trade School: Some vocational or trade schools have certificate programs that count toward college credit, such as for a future associate or bachelors degree. Others offer associate degrees.
    • Military School: Military experience is well regarded by law enforcement agencies and police departments. Familiarity with firearms, mental toughness, physical conditioning, discipline, and an understanding of command structure are all benefits of hiring a recruit with military experience.
    • Community College: Students can complete their associate degree in criminal justice in two years or earn a certificate in a few months. Whats more, most recruits come out of police academies based at two-year colleges, meaning some curriculums will be well integrated with local training.
    • 4-year institution: Federal agencies often require a bachelors degree. Even if a four-year degree isnt required, getting a bachelors degree can be a prudent decision because it can increase your chances of being hired and promoted.

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    Picking The Right Program

    Once you know which program level you want to pursue, its time to figure out which one best suits your needs. When researching the schools that make it onto your all-important shortlist, keep the following questions in mind:

    • Is the school regionally accredited?
    • Can you afford the tuition?
    • Does the timeline fit with your future goals?
    • Does the program have a high success rate?
    • Does the program provide POST exam prep?

    Masters Degrees In Criminal Justice

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    A masters degree in criminal justice is typically a two-year degree. Its best for those seeking work with federal agencies or promotions into leadership positions. That may be because the types of courses youll take would help you reform a department or adopt new policies.

    Students can get into a masters program with a bachelors in criminal justice or a similar degree. They could also leverage criminal justice work experience and a bachelors in another discipline.

    Those with limited exposure to criminal justice coursework will likely need to take prerequisites at the undergraduate level . The graduate coursework itself may include the following:

    • Constitutional law: Moving beyond procedures, this class takes a deep dive into the philosophy of the Constitution and asks you to balance that with concerns related to public welfare, privacy, and crime prevention.
    • Quantitative methods: Now that you have experience looking at other peoples data, its time to make your own. Youll learn how to design research and parse the data you collect.
    • Public policy: This class examines how criminal justice policies are created and adapted to the needs of local agencies.

    In addition, most masters degrees require you to complete a thesis, a research paper that allows you to show off what youve learned in the discipline and apply research to a problem you find interesting. Alternatively, other programs require a capstone project or an internship.

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    What Makes A College A Good Choice For Police Officers

    If you are pursuing a career as a police or police officer and want to earn a degree in criminal justice, there a many quality programs and colleges for police officers from which to choose. Many law enforcement professionals join the force first and then complete degree programs at one of the available police colleges to advance their careers. More ambitious professionals may move on to masters degree programs for public administration jobs.

    Any one of the colleges for police officers and criminal justice will offer students and actively working law enforcement professionals an opportunity to specialize in a criminal justice subspecialty

    • Computer Forensics
    • SWAT Special Weapons & Tactics Team
    • Homicide Detective
    • Gang Intelligence, to name a few.

    Hawkeye Community College Police Academy

    Tuition: $3,150 a year

    Hawkeye Community College offers a certification training option to law enforcement agencies that hire college graduates as police and reserve officer certification courses. Not only that, but they offer firearms training quite unusual at colleges. Note: the curriculum is geared to Iowa law enforcement statutes.

    For more information:

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    Doctoral Degree In Criminal Justice

    Graduates of a doctorate in criminal justice are qualified to pursue high-level research and leadership roles in criminology, science, and education. A doctoral degree, such as a Ph.D. in criminal justice, prepares students for scholarly research and teaching positions, achieved through coursework in criminal justice management, theory and improvement of criminal justice practices, and corrections crisis management.

    While completion times vary, many students can complete this Ph.D. in roughly four years of full-time study. Like most Ph.D.s, doctoral degrees in criminal justice require a dissertation. Graduates of a doctoral program commonly pursue careers as criminal justice professors or public policy consultants.

    Choosing The Right Degree For Law Enforcement

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    Selecting the degree that is right for you is a decision that you should make after conducting thorough research. After all, the career path that you choose will likely be the focus of your life for several decades. If you choose a degree program that you will enjoy, you are likely to be motivated to get a high-paying job and to achieve further advancement. Therefore, you can set yourself up for success by putting in the effort to conduct your own research before diving into the degree of your choice.

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    Acquire A Degree Or Academy Training

    The requirements for this step will vary substantially depending on the state in which you plan on becoming a police officer. Some states do not require their officers to be college-educated, even if they may prefer it. Other states, like Minnesota, an Associates degree or equivalent training is one of the requirements to become a police officer.

    Generally speaking, the training process for aspiring police officers follows two routes:

    Since police officer requirements differ, youll want to be sure to check with the agency that sets the standards for law enforcement training and licensure in your area. Some also have arrangements for military reciprocity, allowing candidates who served in the military to follow a different process in acknowledgement of the training they already have.

    Whichever path you take, your training will include classroom instruction in state and local laws, covering topics like constitutional law, civil rights and police ethics. Recruits also receive training and supervised experience in areas such as patrol, traffic control, firearm use, self-defense, first aid and emergency response.

    Certificate In Law Enforcement

    A certificate in criminal justice or criminology is an opportunity for individuals to gain specific instruction in an area of law enforcement. Since a certificate consists of a few classes and can be completed in a few months, the certificate can also provide an opportunity to get started on an associate degree without having to commit to the two years just yet. Certificates are also great in that some department require applicants to have some college credits, but do not require a full degree. Some of the courses available in a criminology or criminal justice certificate program are listed below:


    • Use of different philosophies regarding criminal punishment
    • Familiarity with common practices within a correctional facility.
    • Ability to follow established procedures and protocols of various correctional facilities

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    Bachelors Degrees In Criminal Justice

    A bachelors degree is a four-year program that is around 120-semester credits . Students often enter a bachelors in criminal justice straight out of high school. Others complete an associate program first, meaning they have already completed roughly half of the required credits for a bachelors degree.

    Students entering from high school must cover all the same lower-level coursework from an associate program . The final two years cover upper-level courses, which could include the following:

    • Criminal law: Officers need to understand the U.S. Constitution so they can properly collect evidence, protect suspects rights, and arrest them.
    • Applied research: Youve already learned what statistics mean this class is about using collected statistics to make decisions. For instance, you might be asked to determine how to deploy officers and use department funds to best prevent crime.
    • Criminal psychology: This class is about getting into criminals heads to learn why they behave the way they do. Its important for crime prevention as well as rehabilitation efforts.

    Weve laid out all the details on bachelors degrees in criminal justice on our site. You may want to take a look if youre interested in careers outside patrol. The FBI, for example, requires special agents to hold a bachelors degree. Fish and game wardens also need a four-year degree.

    Pros And Cons Of Becoming A Police Officer

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    This isnt an 8 to 5 office job. Its an on-your-feet, always-alert, out-and-about career. And while thats a good thing, it also comes with a few downsides. Heres the straight story on what to expect in a career as a police officer:


    • Job stability: Police officers work for the local, state, or federal government, which dont generally go bust or downsize like companies.
    • Benefits: Many government agencies, unlike most private companies, still provide pension plans so people can comfortably retire not to mention life insurance policies and more time off.
    • Advancement opportunities: The combination of job stability and retirement benefits leads to a fairly consistent hierarchy in constant need of new people moving up the ranks.
    • Training: Police officers receive excellent training that can be used beyond their careers in police work, should they want to go into private security, firearms training, or similar work.
    • Sense of pride: In a 2016 study of law enforcement officers, 58% reported feeling proud of their work nearly always or often.
    • Collegiality: Like other coworkers, police officers bond over shared duties. But those bonds are reinforced with constant teamwork in the face of danger.


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    Ready To Start Your Journey

    Starting a career in law enforcement provides a wide range of opportunities for advancement and stable employment that is unlikely to go away in the near future. There are 808,700 people who are currently employed in law enforcement in the U.S., so there are a broad range of jobs that you can choose from in the field. You can work as an investigator, police officer, intelligence officer, or in other important positions that are critical in any high-functioning society.

    Explore Police Officer Education Options Learn About Police Education Options And Find Out What Police Officer Jobs May Be Available To You

    Police officer education can help prepare you for work as one of your citys dedicated law enforcement agents.

    Youll maintain law and order, collect evidence, and conduct criminal investigations. You might be patrolling a neighborhood to keep residents safe, responding to a call for help, or participating in a SWAT team raid.

    If youve ever thought of becoming a police officer, youll want to know what your police education will prepare you for:

    • Urban police officers have general law enforcement duties including maintaining regular patrols and responding to calls for help. Many are assigned to patrol a specific area, such as a business district or residential neighborhood.
    • Sheriffs and deputy sheriffs enforce the law on the county level. Sheriffs, who are elected to their posts, perform duties similar to those of a local or county police chief.
    • Detectives gather facts and collect evidence for criminal cases. They conduct interviews, examine records, observe the activities of suspects, and participate in raids or arrests.
    • State police officers, also known as highway patrol officers, arrest criminals statewide and patrol highways to enforce motor vehicle laws and regulations. At the scene of accidents, they may direct traffic, give first aid, or call for emergency equipment.

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