College Criminal Justice Education and Police Academy Training:
New students frequently ask about the difference between college criminal justice education and police academy training…does one replace the other?
College education and academy training complement one another, and both are a necessary part of the preparation of a successful law enforcement career officer.
In college classes, criminal justice students acquire a detailed knowledge of all aspects of the criminal justice system. They study modern law enforcement techniques, and are immersed in legal studies, gaining a thorough understanding of criminal law, Constitutional Law, rules of evidence, and legal theory. Emphasis is also placed on oral and written communications skills and the development of superior reasoning abilities and critical thinking.
Above all, criminal justice students learn how to make the critical decisions that are unique to law enforcement. They learn to quickly and logically analyze situations of enormous importance. They become aware of all the available alternatives they must consider when making life and death decisions. They learn to judge a person’s psychological state, and to adjust their strategy to meet rapidly changing conditions.
Administration of Justice college courses also examine ethical and moral values, as well as, legal and operational principles, so that criminal justice decisions will be based on sound reasoning skills, responsible professional judgement, and consideration of all the complex human factors affecting the criminal justice process.
Everyone entering law enforcement employment as a sworn officer will attend a police academy, regardless of the extent of his or her college preparation. Police academy training emphasizes the practical, mechanical skills necessary in law enforcement, building on the academic knowledge acquired in college.
In a police or sheriff’s academy, technical skills such as marksmanship and self-defense are mastered. The mechanical techniques of making an arrest are taught and officers are continually evaluated through realistic live-action scenarios. Emphasis is placed on physical conditioning and the ability to maintain composure under stress. The new officer gains an understanding of the specific operational procedures used by his or her department or in the geographic region where he or she will be employed.
Officers who begin their careers with a degree in Administration of Justice have an educational background, which enables them to become well-rounded, professional peace officers. Their academy class work will require much less effort and they will be much more likely to succeed in the academy. With experience, they will be capable of performing the most demanding law enforcement assignments, and will have the potential for advancement to specialized assignments and supervisory or command positions.