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Adam Quirk | Criminal Justice in Law Enforcement

A lot of people would agree that having a strong educational background is helpful any career. For law enforcement, it’s not that different. Many people wonder just how much schooling they will need to be successful in this field. For Adam Quirk, an FBI and DEA former employee, a degree in criminal justice is valuable in helping aspiring agents get their foot in the door and work their way up the corporate ladder.

Although a college degree is not a requirement for most law enforcement jobs, it certainly is wise to consider pursuing higher education, as it can enhance job skills that are essential in the field, such as report writing, critical thinking and reading comprehension, and interpersonal communications. Moreover, earning a bachelor’s degree can be a springboard to other opportunities and careers in law enforcement that typically require much more extensive schooling, such as criminologists, behavioral psychologists and profilers, and forensic psychologists.

Those considering a career in law enforcement can also get and use their criminal justice degree to better understand essential aspects of the industry, explains Adam Quirk. In the FBI and DEA, for example, chain of evidence is a key area all on its own. A case will require investigative skills and involve a multitude of procedures needed to obtain, maintain, and keep evidence free from any damage or tampering, as corrupted evidence will not be admissible in court. Moreover, a strong background in criminal justice will shed light on the various procedures associated with the law and due process, as well as what happens when the chain of evidence is broken and how such events can affect a criminal investigation. Image Source: Flickr

“Law enforcement is constantly evolving,” says Adam Quirk. “The FBI and other law enforcement agencies used to follow a very rigid hierarchy and chain of command, but that’s now changing.” Now, police officers and detectives are given more authority and are more involved in the respective communities they serve.

Lower-level employees are also under increased public scrutiny right now, thanks to technology and social media. Adam Quirk says, any misstep can go viral and result in a scandal. Therefore, it’s important for those working in law enforcement to be skilled in media relations and well-prepared to handle difficult situations in the best way possible. A degree in criminal justice can get them those skills; college equips and teaches students ethics, conflict resolution, and critical thinking—soft skills that can help them become proactive rather than reactive. Adopting this attitude can mean all the difference between an incident that escalates badly and one that is resolved peacefully. Simply put, when police officers and employees come in with more knowledge upfront, they are less likely to make mistakes.

After working in law enforcement for many years, Adam Quirk knows that the scenarios that police officers, detectives, and agents typically deal with are far from what the public sees on popular media. Contrary to what’s depicted in movies and TV shows, individuals working in law enforcement are not always fighting crimes or apprehending criminals; a lot of their job entails research, crime prevention, and community relations. Not only are they educating the public, but they’re also analyzing evidence and crime scenes, negotiating disputes, interviewing witnesses and suspects, and communicating with members of the community.