A career in criminal justice used to be relatively straightforward: You went to school to study for a degree in criminology or law; or you joined the police academy; or you took extensive tests to join the FBI or CIA. Those days of relative simplicity are far behind us.
Criminal justice — like almost everything in the U.S. and industrialized world — has gone high-tech, and how could it not? Hackers and other cybercriminals are hard at work stealing everything from data to cash with increasingly complex and difficult-to-track cloud-based methods.
The world of crime and, therefore, crime fighting has totally changed as technology increasingly dictates both terrain and alliances in questions of right or wrong. If you want to be a part of the solution when it comes to fighting crime in the 21st century, here are five specific reasons boning up on tech will make you better suited it.
1. More Job Opportunities
Tech is becoming increasingly important in every sphere of work, and criminal justice is no exception. For anyone hoping to get a job in any aspect of work relating to criminology, being proficient in tech will ensure you’re more attractive to future employers, regardless of whether you hope to work for the department of Homeland Security or for a private security firm.
From issues related to information assurance to the routine task of being able to look through a suspect’s computer after a search warrant has been obtained, being adept at the technological side of things will give you a lot more options when it comes to finding work, and it will make you a more competitive candidate for top-level jobs and promotions as well.
2. Better Understanding of Crime
It isn’t just employability that makes boning up on tech a good thing to do. Gaining a better understanding and appreciation of the nature of 21st century crime is, too. Regardless of the work you find your self engaged in, the chances are high that some technological component will play a part.
From the subtleties of accessing suspects’ cell phone data across may time zones and towers to the many ways in which ATM robberies can occur, the more you understand about the ever-changing and expanding world of technology, the greater your insight into the world of crime will be.
3. Better Able to Relate to Victims of Crime
Imagine being the victim of a hack where sensitive photos or documents were stolen from your computer. Now, imagine interacting with a law enforcement officer who doesn’t understand how “files” that aren’t physical were stolen at all. While this example is clunky and, anymore, unlikely to happen, victims around the country have found themselves frustrated at times with the limited ways in which law enforcement officers understand cybercrime at all.
To better catch criminals, it’s essential to relate well to the people affected by crime so you can get all the pertinent information you need. You’ll also be able to restore peace of mind more quickly by demonstrating that you have a good grasp on the nature of the crime at hand. When it comes to crime that has a technological component, it’s only through understanding technology that you can relate to the people affected.
4. You’ll Be Using It All the Time
Technology is ubiquitous. Even if you have serious Luddite tendencies, the fact of the matter is: You’re going to be using technology regardless of the type of criminal justice job you end up performing. So, why make it hard on yourself?
From the daily use of computers and tracking software to complex algorithms that sort data so you can see patterns of crime more clearly in order to take more creative approaches to solving it, technology is here to stay. Get ahead of the curve by increasing your knowledge, appreciation for, and understanding of tech so that instead of being hindered by your lack of expertise, you can be helped by the expertise you do have.
5. Your Equipment Will Include It
From body cameras to automated license plate readers, the equipment currently being used to fight crime is already thick with technology. That trend is only going to continue. The better able you are to appreciate technology’s usefulness — and its shortcomings — the more effective you’ll be in your work.
So, don’t wait for the day when your boss asks you to get a bit more tech savvy. Bone up on technology now, and have a more successful career in criminal justice from your first day on the job.