When people think of criminal justice, many think only of law enforcement officers. But the field is much broader than that. It can run the gamut from investigation to crisis intervention, pretrial release and probation, to victim assistance—all with the goal of helping to protect lives, property and to maintain peace in society.
What Criminal Justice Professionals Do
With a basic understanding of the law and the criminal justice system, criminal justice professionals may work in the prevention, enforcement and investigation field as police officers; in the corrections field in a variety of positions; or in the area of providing assistance to victims of violence and trauma. Those in the profession tend to be physically fit, have strong critical thinking skills, and are able to deal with all kinds of people in crisis. All criminal justice professionals need to be computer literate and have strong writing skills.
Criminal Justice Studies at Red Rocks Community College
You can earn an Associate of Arts degrees (AA) in criminal justice or victim assistance. A variety of courses are offered in the Criminal Justice program including, but not limited to: law, criminal behavior, corrections, law enforcement operations, crisis intervention, investigation strategies, and death and dying. Many four-year colleges have criminal justice programs. (CSU, UNC, CU, UCD, Regis). Speak with a criminal justice advisor for more information.
In addition, the emergency public service department operates a Basic Law Enforcement Training Academy. This is an intensive, 17 to 18 week program that satisfies the training requirement for prospective or newly-hired law enforcement or parole officers or for any position in Colorado requiring state certification as a peace officer. Requirements for the academy certificate exceed the Colorado Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) for entry level training with a local agency. Students include beginners as well as experienced officers who are seeking certification to work in Colorado. The requirements needed to complete this certificate represent a good start on the two-year associate of applied science degree needed for entry-level positions with an increasing number of law enforcement agencies. Admission into the Academy is by separate application.
Job Prospects and Income
Turnover among Colorado's 4,000 corrections officers tends to be high. Entry level jobs pay roughly $19,000 per year with advances up to $30,000. Senior officers in this field can make up to $75,000.
The police departments in Arvada, Lakewood, Wheat Ridge and Edgewater, and the sheriff's department in Jefferson County, anticipate more than 80 new openings per year. Some 20 more are anticipated annually in Gilpin, Clear Creek and Park Counties.
Employment in victim assistance can be affiliated with a district attorney's office; police or sheriff's department; or with a private/non-profit agency. Positions range from volunteers to PhD's. Many entry-level positions require a two-year or four-year degree in victim assistance, psychology, human services or social work. Speak to your criminal justice advisor for more information.
Interested in Law Enforcement?
Law Enforcement is offered through the
Emergency & Public Safety Dept.