Criminal justice students looking for nonsworn positions in law enforcement have plenty of options.
From forensic technicians or public information officers to victim advocates and private investigators, there are numerous opportunities for nonsworn careers in law enforcement for criminal justice grads.
Saint Leo University alumna Francie Koehler, for example, has had an accomplished career as a private investigator for nearly 30 years.
Before joining Saint Leo as a graduate enrollment counselor, Dawn Farrier served in county law enforcement as a child protection investigator.
Difference between sworn and nonsworn positions
According to the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics, the primary difference between sworn and nonsworn positions is that sworn officers such as police officers, sheriff's deputies and highway patrol officers have full arrest powers that are granted by a state or local government and the authority to carry firearms. Sworn officers, also have taken an oath to support the U.S. Constitution, their state, sheriff, and the laws of their agency's jurisdiction, and they have met extensive training requirements.
Nonsworn officers or civilians in nonsworn positions do not have general arrest authority. While specific requirements vary from state to state, some sheriffs' deputies who work in jails or courtrooms, for example, could be unsworn, as well as administrative and support personnel, certain types of investigators, case workers, and specialists.
If you're currently enrolled in an online criminal justice degree program and would like to pursue a career in law enforcement, there are plenty of opportunities to serve in a civilian position. Here are just a few.
1. Child Protection Investigator
Child protection investigators respond to reports of child abuse or neglect and investigate to determine if the child is in danger and should be removed from the home. They may also assist with adoptions and finding foster homes.
2. Crime Scene Investigator
Also called forensic science technicians, crime scene investigators aid criminal investigations by collecting and analyzing evidence and writing reports. They work in crime labs and travel to crime scenes.
3. Crime Analyst
Crime analysts assist police departments by systematically gathering and analyzing data and information to help solve crimes and develop strategies to prevent crime. They may review police reports to identify patterns and trends, develop local intelligence and research long-term problems.
4. Criminal Research Specialist
Also called intelligence research specialists, these professionals are most commonly found in federal agencies. They work as part of an investigative team, gathering and managing complex research into illegal activities and drafting and delivering briefings on intelligence operations.
5. Correctional Treatment Specialist
Correctional treatment specialists may also be called case managers. They counsel and monitor inmates in correctional institutions or work with parole or probation officers in the field to help former inmates reintegrate into society.
6. Private Investigator
Private investigators provide a variety of services to their clients who may be individuals, businesses or attorneys. They collect information through interviews, surveillance, and public records searches to be used in criminal cases or corporate investigations. They may conduct background checks, verify employment, research criminal history, or investigate computer crimes.
7. Victim Services Advocate
These professionals support crime victims with a variety of services such as emergency care, navigating the justice system, finding legal representation and obtaining mental health services. They may work in police departments, legal offices, social service offices, courts, and shelters.
8. Public Information Officer
A type of public relations specialist, public information officers usually work in a government setting, serving as a liaison between their agency or department and the public. They may handle media inquiries, organize events and disseminate information.
9. Computer Forensic Examiner
Computer forensic examiners assist in investigations by gathering, recovering and analyzing data from computers, storage and other electronic devices to serve as evidence in prosecuting crimes. They may work for police departments or government agencies as well as private companies or law firms.
10. Crime Prevention Specialist
Experts in proactive crime prevention techniques and strategies, crime prevention specialists are usually found in police departments and non-profit organizations. These specialists work to eliminate or reduce crime by analyzing statistics and developing protocols and programs. They serve as a liaison between sworn officers and the public and educate individuals and communities about crime and how to stay safe.
11. Asset Protection Manager
Also called loss control specialists, asset protection managers help companies prevent financial loss from theft and fraud and are most often found in retail stores. They oversee security, train employees on loss prevention procedures, conduct asset protection and operational audits, implement and monitor asset protection procedures, and investigate and resolve issues related to incidents of loss.
12. Community Service Officer
Often a stepping stone to a sworn position, community service officers perform a variety of traffic-related duties such as investigating traffic accidents, controlling traffic at accident scenes, assisting stranded motorists, responding to abandoned vehicles, and assisting special events. They may also be involved with parking enforcement, animal problems and handling private property accident reports.
13. Customs Inspector
Customs inspectors work for the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and are stationed at airports, border crossings, seaports and any other entry points into the United States. They inspect bags and cargo and check shipping manifests to prevent weapons, drugs and illegal goods from entering the country.
14. Truancy Case Manager
Truancy case managers work with youth and families to develop and implement plans to improve school attendance and performance. They act as liaisons working with truancy courts, school districts and human services departments making sure families have access to the services they need so that youth can achieve their full academic potential.
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, discoverpolicing.org, American Crime Prevention Institute, The International Society of Crime Prevention Practitioners, The International Association of Crime Analysts, U.S. Customs and Border Protection
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