How Computer Science Degrees Can Boost Your Law Enforcement Career

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Key Infor­ma­tion:

  • Com­put­er sci­ence skills enable law enforce­ment to com­bat cyber­crimes, inves­ti­gate dig­i­tal evi­dence, and pro­tect online secu­ri­ty.
  • A com­put­er sci­ence degree can open doors to spe­cial­ized roles with­in law enforce­ment, offer­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for lead­er­ship and high­er-lev­el inves­ti­ga­tions and high­er pay.
  • Under­stand­ing of soft­ware and hard­ware can stream­line oper­a­tions, improve effi­cien­cy, and mod­ern­ize law enforce­ment tools and systems.

Law enforce­ment has evolved great­ly over the years as tech­nol­o­gy has become an ever-larg­er pres­ence in our lives. Today, law enforce­ment offi­cers aren’t just respon­si­ble for keep­ing the peace; they’re also respon­si­ble for inves­ti­gat­ing cyber attacks, online fraud, and oth­er com­put­er-based crimes.

That being the case, it makes sense to use an edu­ca­tion in com­put­er sci­ence as a spring­board for a law enforce­ment career. In fact, though a com­put­er sci­ence degree might not be as direct­ly aligned with a polic­ing career as, say, crim­i­nal jus­tice, there are still many oppor­tu­ni­ties for you to work in law enforce­ment with a com­put­er sci­ence background.

A good exam­ple of how com­put­er sci­ence and law enforce­ment are inter­twined is the use of com­put­er tech­nol­o­gy to process crime scene evi­dence. Law enforce­ment tech­nol­o­gy can aid in ana­lyz­ing DNA, bul­let stri­a­tions, and oth­er phys­i­cal evi­dence. On a more basic lev­el, law enforce­ment agen­cies use com­put­er net­works to main­tain data­bas­es of crim­i­nal infor­ma­tion, vic­tim details, and oth­er rel­e­vant data that can be eas­i­ly accessed now and in the future.

So, the more you think about it, the more a com­put­er sci­ence degree for a law enforce­ment career makes sense!


Importance of Technology in Law Enforcement

As men­tioned above, tech­nol­o­gy plays an impor­tant role in the day-to-day work­ings of law enforce­ment agen­cies. On the one hand, the FBI, CIA, and oth­er police orga­ni­za­tions use tech­nol­o­gy to ana­lyze tremen­dous amounts of data. For exam­ple, tech­nol­o­gy can be used to map where crimes occur to bet­ter under­stand where an increased police pres­ence is needed.

Oth­er impor­tant appli­ca­tions of tech­nol­o­gy in law enforce­ment include:

  • Crime data analysis
  • Cyber­se­cu­ri­ty train­ing for police
  • Com­put­er forensics
  • Fin­ger­print analysis

Gen­er­al IT appli­ca­tions, such as com­put­er net­work­ing, data­base man­age­ment, soft­ware devel­op­ment, and so on, are also preva­lent in law enforce­ment. There is vir­tu­al­ly no end to the types of law enforce­ment tech jobs you can find!

High-tech law enforce­ment pro­grams, such as facial recog­ni­tion, are also wide­ly used. These pro­grams are nec­es­sary for track­ing peo­ple’s move­ments in pub­lic places and have proven effec­tive in track­ing sus­pects’ move­ments in areas like air­ports and train stations.

Of course, hav­ing tech­nol­o­gy at your dis­pos­al as a law enforce­ment offi­cer is only part of the equa­tion. With a back­ground in com­put­er sci­ence, you will have the knowl­edge and skills to imple­ment and use pro­grams like these more effec­tive­ly. You can also use your expe­ri­ence in com­put­er sci­ence to imple­ment new tech­nol­o­gy pro­grams and train oth­er law enforce­ment officers.

Advantages of a Computer Science Degree in Law Enforcement

A com­put­er sci­ence degree law enforce­ment com­bi­na­tion comes with its fair share of advantages:

Com­put­er Sci­ence SkillsAppli­ca­tions in Law Enforcement
Enhanced Prob­lem-Solv­ing SkillsTrain­ing in com­put­er sci­ence teach­es you prob­lem-solv­ing, ana­lyt­i­cal, and crit­i­cal think­ing skills that are essen­tial for inves­tiga­tive work.
Tech­ni­cal ExpertiseHav­ing tech­ni­cal exper­tise in com­put­er sci­ence facil­i­tates a bet­ter under­stand­ing of tech­nol­o­gy for activ­i­ties like dig­i­tal foren­sics, cyber­se­cu­ri­ty, and data analysis.
Inno­va­tion and AdaptationLaw enforce­ment offi­cers must be able to adapt to sit­u­a­tions quick­ly and use inno­v­a­tive think­ing to iden­ti­fy solu­tions to prob­lems. Com­put­er sci­ence train­ing helps enhance these skills while also giv­ing you hard skills relat­ed to using tech­nol­o­gy to solve crimes.
Trans­fer­able SkillsHav­ing a com­put­er sci­ence degree allows you to pur­sue many oth­er careers out­side of law enforcement.
High-Demand Train­ingWork­ers with com­put­er sci­ence degrees are in high demand in many dif­fer­ent fields. Accord­ing to the Bureau of Labor Sta­tis­tics (BLS), many com­put­er-relat­ed jobs are pre­dict­ed to grow by dou­ble-dig­it per­cent­ages in the next decade.

Giv­en these advan­tages, it makes sense why police depart­ment IT careers should be on your radar!

Accelerated Bachelor’s Degrees in Computer Science

For­tu­nate­ly, get­ting a com­put­er sci­ence degree doesn’t require you to spend the tra­di­tion­al four years in col­lege. In many cas­es, an accel­er­at­ed bachelor’s degree in a com­put­er sci­ence field might only require two or three years of course­work — and per­haps even less if you have some col­lege cred­its already under your belt. In any case, an accel­er­at­ed degree can get your foot in the door for a cyber­se­cu­ri­ty law enforce­ment career or a relat­ed com­put­er sci­ence job.

Accel­er­at­ed pro­grams offer more than the ben­e­fit of tak­ing less time. There are many online com­put­er sci­ence degree options, giv­ing you enhanced flex­i­bil­i­ty for com­plet­ing your degree with less of an impact on your work and fam­i­ly life.

Often, accel­er­at­ed bachelor’s degree and associate’s degree pro­grams are learn-as-you-go, too. By rely­ing on asyn­chro­nous learn­ing (class­es that don’t have set meet­ing times), schools can increase the flex­i­bil­i­ty of these pro­grams that much more.

Below is a brief list of spe­cif­ic accel­er­at­ed com­put­er sci­ence degrees and how each relates to law enforcement:

Degree TypeDegree Sum­ma­ry
Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence in Com­put­er Sci­ence (BSCS)A BSCS focus­es on areas like com­put­er sys­tems, net­works, and pro­gram­ming lan­guages. This train­ing can lead to posi­tions like com­put­er foren­sics inves­ti­ga­tor, which entails gath­er­ing and ana­lyz­ing dig­i­tal evi­dence for crim­i­nal investigations.
Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence in Infor­ma­tion TechnologyA BS in IT is a gen­er­al pro­gram with stud­ies in areas such as web devel­op­ment, data­base man­age­ment, and net­work secu­ri­ty. Often, this degree leads to a posi­tion like IT spe­cial­ist, which is respon­si­ble for build­ing, main­tain­ing, and secur­ing net­works for law enforce­ment agencies.
Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence in CybersecurityA cyber­se­cu­ri­ty degree focus­es on online secu­ri­ty and pre­vent­ing mali­cious attacks. In the law enforce­ment realm, this degree can be used to help agen­cies secure their com­put­ers, servers, net­works, and oth­er devices.
Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence in Soft­ware EngineeringA BS in soft­ware engi­neer­ing is a com­bi­na­tion of com­put­er sci­ence, engi­neer­ing, and soft­ware devel­op­ment. In law enforce­ment, soft­ware engi­neers play an impor­tant role in plan­ning, design­ing, and build­ing soft­ware appli­ca­tions. These appli­ca­tions help man­age and orga­nize data and make it eas­i­er for offi­cers to access while main­tain­ing secu­ri­ty against data breaches.
Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence in Data ScienceA BS in data sci­ence includes train­ing in com­put­er sci­ence, sta­tis­tics, and busi­ness. The pri­ma­ry focus is on ana­lyz­ing large amounts of data and using that data to solve prob­lems. In law enforce­ment, data sci­ence can be used to iden­ti­fy crime hot spots, assess resource allo­ca­tion, and improve the over­all effi­cien­cy of the agency.

How to Integrate Computer Science Education into a Law Enforcement Career

Com­plet­ing a com­bined degree is one of the most pop­u­lar ways to inte­grate com­put­er sci­ence and law enforce­ment. For exam­ple, some col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties offer dual crim­i­nal jus­tice and com­put­er sci­ence majors. Oth­ers offer pro­grams in cyber­se­cu­ri­ty and crim­i­nol­o­gy as well as law enforce­ment technology.

You can also start your law enforce­ment career first, then go back to school to earn a com­put­er sci­ence degree. As men­tioned ear­li­er, many fast track com­put­er sci­ence bach­e­lor degrees are avail­able online, so you can work quick­ly through the degree pro­gram as your sched­ule allows. If you pre­fer, you might enroll in a pro­gram specif­i­cal­ly for work­ing adults. These pro­grams often have evening and week­end class­es that allow you to fin­ish your degree with min­i­mal inter­fer­ence with your job.

A com­put­er sci­ence degree can also be used for law enforce­ment career advance­ment. There are many exam­ples of law enforce­ment posi­tions that ben­e­fit from hav­ing a back­ground in com­put­er science:

Job TitleAver­age Annu­al Pay*
Com­put­er Foren­sic Analyst$82,017
Cyber­crime Investigator$95,173
IT Spe­cial­ist$52,455
Data­base Administrator$94,537
Hard­ware Engineer$106,813

*Accord­ing to Indeed

Obvi­ous­ly, some of the jobs list­ed above are involved direct­ly in police work, such as com­put­er foren­sic ana­lysts and cyber­crime inves­ti­ga­tors. Oth­er options, like IT spe­cial­ists, data­base admin­is­tra­tors, and hard­ware engi­neers, would work in sup­port roles or might even work with law enforce­ment agen­cies as inde­pen­dent contractors.

In any case, inte­grat­ing tech­nol­o­gy in polic­ing requires work­ers who under­stand com­put­er sci­ence and the law. Since most peo­ple in law enforce­ment don’t have this dual under­stand­ing, your ser­vices could be in very high demand (and the pay could be very good, too). Whether you get a dig­i­tal foren­sics degree, a cyber­crime inves­ti­ga­tion degree, a soft­ware engi­neer­ing in law enforce­ment degree, or some­thing in between, your future will be very bright in the field of law enforcement!