Suppose you are interested in law enforcement but really don’t see yourself as a police officer. That’s ok. For a number of reasons, serving as a sworn officer isn’t for everyone, (and it’s great you realize this BEFORE you go through the academy.)
But fear not! There are plenty of civilian (non-sworn, non-gun toting) career opportunities out there. Sure you’re familiar with call takers and dispatchers, but here are some lesser known but really cool civilian careers in policing.
Crime Analyst. In a nutshell, these folks turn the volumes of data collected by police agencies into actionable information by command and patrol officers. Crime analysts don’t analyze crime scenes – a common misconception – but rather crime data and statistics, looking for patterns and trends. They also used computerized maps to track the locations of crimes, suspects, and watch for emerging “hot spots.” IACA is a good source of info on the profession and jobs in the field.
IT Professionals. Law enforcement is a field that is becoming more and more tech savvy. While at its core, policing is about connecting with people and obtaining information, modern technology has made storing, accessing, and searching that information much easier – or complex, depending on your perspective. Many agencies, especially larger ones, have information technology professionals as full time employees responsible for managing the array of databases and computing equipment.
Planner. Law enforcement planners can fill a variety of roles in a police department. Commonly you’ll find planners attached to the chief’s office with responsibilities like research, grant writing and monitoring, budgeting, and accreditation.
Investigator. Oh yes, you read that right. Some agencies hire civilians for routine investigations, from minor traffic accidents to car burglaries. Civilian investigators may also assist sworn detectives by conducting follow-up investigations, interviewing victims, witnesses, and suspects, and processing paperwork. Here’s a sample job description from Los Angeles County.
Victims’ Services. Unfortunately, for every crime, there’s a victim. For violent crimes, there are often “secondary victims,” or relatives of victims who need emotional support and procedural guidance as their case is investigated and prosecuted. That’s where victims’ services folks come in. Not an easy job but surely a rewarding one.
I’ve only named a handful here. For more information on civilian jobs in law enforcement, visit our site.