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Criminal Justice

Common Questions

What qualities do I need to be successful in law enforcement?

Washington State Patrol officer

A law enforcement officer must have a high degree of maturity, an ability to think analytically, and the ability to make quick decisions. He or she must be familiar with basic criminal law, be able to write reports, and deal with people at all ages in all walks of life. A law enforcement officer must also have compassion for victims.

The field is a challenging one, and testing for entry positions is very competitive. In order to be hired, the applicant must undergo an extensive background exam and place in the top 10 percent of the required civil service tests-written, oral and physical. Since most states allow individuals to begin taking these test at 20.5 years of age, the SCC law enforcement program can be taken following high school and completed before testing begins. In fact, the average job placement rate for graduates is between 85 and 90 percent.

Rho Beta Psi group

What is Rho Beta Psi?

Rho Beta Psi is a law enforcement club that competes each year nationally with other schools, including Florida State University. The competition events include physical agility, firearms training, knowledge, and crime scene investigation.

SCC's Rho Beta Psi chapter holds 13 national championships from its 15 years of competition. Pictured here is the group that competed in 2001 at Quantico, Virginia.

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What do I learn in law enforcement?

Students learn job skills needed to become police officers, state patrol officers, deputy sheriffs and federal officers. The curriculum emphasizes hands-on skills. For example, students study proper methods for stopping drivers, then actually ride in a patrol car and observe stops being made. They also learn fingerprinting, crime scene investigation, traffic accident investigation, officer survival, searching, laws of arrest, criminal law procedures, search and seizure, and self-defense tactics.

Cooperative education work experience gives students the chance to get a head start on their career. Generally, students participating in this program seem to be the ones who are hired first.

All classes are taught by experienced instructors who have either had "street" law enforcement experience or are presently working officers.

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Where will I find a job in law enforcement?

SCC graduates have found careers in city, county, state, federal, and even international positions. Beyond entry-level positions such as police officer, deputy sheriff or state patrol officer, other career opportunities include security guard, law enforcement agency dispatcher, traffic officer and correctional officer.

Law enforcement training can also lead to a position as detectives, SWAT (special weapons and tactics) details, narcotics and vice investigators, and later, supervisory positions such as sergeant, lieutenant, captain and chief. Starting pay in law enforcement ranges from $1,800 to $2,200 per month and with a few years experience salaries can range from $2,400 to $3,500 per month. Law enforcement officers in metropolitan areas typically earn more than those employed in rural areas.

People who advance in law enforcement are getting their four-year degrees in business. Those students who are interested in administrative positions should supplement their law enforcement program with courses in business and computers.

For more information....For more information:
Contact: Spokane Community College
Counseling Center, MS 2151
1810 N. Greene Street
Spokane, WA 99217-5399
Phone:Ric Villalobos, Counselor
(509) 533-7356 or 1-800-248-5644 ext. 7356
Email:Michael Prim at
For additional contacts, please
refer to the online directory for this department

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or get our address to write for more information

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Spokane Community College
1810 N. Greene St.
Spokane, WA 99217-5399
For general information call:
509-533-7000 or
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