Qualities of Someone in the Criminal Justice Field

There are a few key qualities that job seekers must possess if they want to be successful in this field. This work is often physically demanding which means you need to stay in shape. You must have a thorough understanding of local, state, and federal laws when apprehending suspects to make sure the evidence sticks. Communication skills are a must. Life and death decisions must be communicated quickly and coherently to fellow agents and officers to help save lives. A few of these qualities will just come naturally. Others must be learned and honed through academy training, college classes, and experience. Let's take an in-depth look at a few of these essential qualities criminal justice jobs require.

Strong Sense of Ethics

Ethics are essential in this line of work. Criminals may not have a sense of right versus wrong, but you must. It can be hard working day after day and seeing some of these criminals walk away scot free. You may be a crime scene lab technician and asked to analyze evidence in a capital murder case. The detectives know, beyond a doubt, that their suspect committed the crime. However, there is a problem; the key piece of evidence has been compromised. If this evidence is not introduced, the suspect will never be convicted. What should you do? These are the types of ethical dilemmas criminal justice workers face every day. The answer, of course, is to exclude the evidence and have the detectives try to find another way to bring the suspect to trial. If your ethics begin to slide, the integrity of your work will be questioned and the public may begin to lose faith in the criminal justice system.

Knowledgeable of Laws

A series of state, local, and federal laws govern criminal justice jobs. It is imperative to have a thorough understanding of these laws. Imagine yourself as a rookie police officer apprehending a bank robbery suspect. In all the excitement of your first arrest, you forget to read him his Miranda Rights. There is a mountain of evidence that will convict this robber, so the prosecutor is convinced that she will get a conviction. However, the case is thrown out because you did not follow one of the most basic laws. The robber gets off and heads out to commit another crime. There are very few second chances in this field. It is your responsibility to stay abreast of laws that impact your ability to perform your job.

Physically Fit

Police officers, federal agents, and detectives are just a few of the criminal justice jobs that will require you to be physically fit. Criminals usually do not easily surrender themselves. Often, agents and officers will have to chase them on-foot. If you have a hard time walking down the street or are huffing and puffing trying to run a mile, then you probably won't be too great in this line of work. The suspects will be able to outrun you and get away! In fact, many departments or agencies will perform physical fitness assessments on potential employees. If you are serious about landing a job in criminal justice, start getting in shape now. It may end up being a deciding factor as to whether or not you land the position.

Good Communication Skills

It does not matter what criminal justice job you are going after. Communication skills are essential. Work in this field is often dangerous. Officers and agents must be able to clearly communicate the nature of the situation and describe where backup needs to be sent. These officers may also be called to testify at a trial. They need to concisely state the facts in terms that a jury can easily understand. Private investigators also need to have excellent communication skills. The information they uncover as a result of their investigation may be difficult to understand or painful to contemplate. They must be able to tactfully relay this information to their clients.

Leadership Skills

You do not need to be a manager in order to display leadership skills. Regardless of which criminal justice job you pursue, you will, at some point in your career, need to step up and lead. Police officers cannot always call in to see if it is OK to make an arrest. The criminal is on the move and a split second decision needs to be made. The officer must lead and decide whether to pursue the suspect. At times, it can be hard to display leadership skills. It is much easier to follow. However, your leadership skills will help co-workers gain confidence in your abilities, leading to even better employment opportunities for you.

Alert to the World around Them

Criminals do not take a break from crime. Neither do criminal justice workers. They know that they must be alert at all times. As terrorism has swept across the globe, these workers know that a terrorist only has to be successful one time to unleash unthinkable destruction. Criminal justice workers have to be alert at all times to prevent these crimes. They develop techniques to spot things that seem a little off and look for behavior that may lead to suspicious activities. These techniques are developed through training and on-the-job experience.

Last Updated: 04/29/2014