From police officers to drug enforcement agents, parole officers to security guards, law enforcement professionals’ core mission is to protect and serve the public.
These professionals keep our neighborhoods, cities, states, and countries safe from crime and other unwelcome events. They are also a vital component of the more extensive, three-part criminal justice system, which consists of law enforcement (catching criminals), courts (delivering justice in the court of law), and corrections (working with criminals).
Yet, when thinking of ways to rebuild society, many ask the question, “What is the importance of law enforcement?”
This article will discuss the role of law enforcement in today’s criminal justice system and explain how candidates can choose to make a meaningful difference in the world by earning a Criminal Justice degree.
Why is Law Enforcement Important?
The criminal justice system attempts to deliver “justice for all” by protecting victims, convicting criminals, and presiding over due process of law for those accused of crimes in hopes of keeping society safe through these means.
Inside the criminal justice system are those who work to keep it afloat, such as law enforcement officers, first responders, and others working to investigate crimes, gather and protect evidence, and respond to reports of various crimes.
Without law enforcement and our criminal justice system, there is a possibility of rampant havoc, violence, theft, and danger everywhere we turn. Law enforcement professionals can take pride and satisfaction in their work to keep society safe and those responsible for crimes accountable for their actions.
What Do Law Enforcement Professionals Do?
For those interested in serving and protecting the public, a career as a law enforcement officer might be a great choice. Law enforcement officers maintain order, solve crimes, and establish trust and respect between communities, institutions, and the individuals they serve.
While day-to-day day activities vary, especially when responding to emergencies, this line of work can involve:
- Informing the public about policies, services, or procedures
- Investigating illegal or suspicious activities
- Apprehending criminal suspects
- Escorting prisoners
- Preparing incident or investigation reports
- Serving court-ordered documents
- Testifying during legal proceedings
Furthermore, there are a variety of job opportunities in the criminal justice system, and law enforcement is no different.
Possible positions and job descriptions include:
1. Police Officers. Police officers operate primarily at the local level in cities and towns, though some receive particular geographic jurisdiction, like working for public school districts or transportation systems. They protect lives and property and can expect to earn a median annual salary of $69,160, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
2. State Troopers. As state police officers, state troopers patrol state highways, enforce driving laws, and arrest criminals at the state level.
3. Drug Enforcement Agents (DEA). Employed at the federal level, drug enforcement agents (DEA) are on the frontlines of drug investigations and responsible for seizing and disrupting drug trafficking across the United States.
4. Fish and Game Wardens. These individuals work outdoors in forest preserves, public waterways, and national parks. Fish and game wardens make sure that the wildlife, natural habitats, and visitors are protected and safe.
5. Security Guards. Security guards can be employed at small and large organizations and facilities as well as by individuals. Like many law enforcement positions, they protect specific people and property.
How to Make an Impact and Start a Career in Law Enforcement
If you want to serve your community, build a dynamic and exciting career, and are passionate about ensuring the safety and security of others, you should consider a career in law enforcement. This often starts by earning a Criminal Justice degree.
An accredited, career-focused Criminal Justice program equips candidates with the tools needed for success in this line of work. Students in these programs receive specialized training to help them conduct investigations while staying mindful of the social, historical, and societal factors that inform modern police work.
Depending on their goals and timeline, students interested in a career in law enforcement will typically choose between an associate degree in Criminal Justice or a Bachelor’s degree in Public Safety and Security.
Associate degrees in Criminal Justice prepare students for the ins and outs of the criminal justice system by offering courses in modern law enforcement, emergency response, security, contemporary policing issues, computer crime, and more. With classes taught by police commanders, detectives, state troopers, military veterans, and other experts, students learn from first-hand experience and insight into the realities of law enforcement.
Considering a career in Criminal Justice? Check out our AS in Criminal Justice Get Started Guide to learn more about Goodwin University’s curriculum, class formats, and more!
Bachelor’s degrees in Public Safety and Security also enable individuals to make a difference in their communities by preparing students to make life-saving changes in critical situations. Students develop skills in evidence-based decision-making, risk management and assessment, policy analysis, and safety and security.
Regardless of which one you choose, Criminal Justice programs prepare students to become protectors of the vulnerable, keeping people safe and out of danger. Plus, both programs at Goodwin University are flexible, affordable, and career-focused, with day and evening classes available to fit students’ needs and schedules.
If you are ready to make a positive change in your community, check out our criminal justice guide and apply today. Or, contact us for more information about our Associate in Criminal Justice or our Bachelor’s in Public Safety and Security.
Financial aid is available, and we are ready to help you get through college and into a great career. We can’t wait to help you!