Criminal Justice

The criminal justice curriculum is made up of law enforcement courses and a carefully selected group of general education requirements designed to prepare each student for a career in the field of law enforcement and human relations.

Students are carefully counseled in order to ensure that they are able to enter a law enforcement agency of their choice. This counseling process includes physical, mental and emotional areas, as well as background requirements. Students are required to take various examinations that are common to the field of law enforcement. These examinations include quarterly physical ability examinations. Passing these physical ability tests is a prerequisite to CJ 237.

Prison (photo)

Portions of this two-year curriculum are transferable to four-year institutions. Students interested in four-year degrees should inquire at the college to which they plan to transfer for specific information.

Credits from the Spokane Police Academy can apply toward meeting the course requirements of this program.

A prior criminal, traffic or drug history may exclude individuals from employment. For further information, contact a program instructor.

Career Opportunities

Employment opportunities are expected to be fair through the next decade as population and economic growth create a need for more officers to protect life and property, regulate traffic and provide other services. Police officers usually retire at a somewhat younger age than workers in other occupations, so replacement rates are relatively high.

Potential positions include:

  • County Police
  • Industrial Security Officer
  • Municipal Police
  • Private Security Guard
  • State Police and federal Agencies
Rob Christenson (photo)
"The SCC law enforcement program is an excellent stepping stone for a career in policing. It offers absolute submersion into the theoretical and practical aspects of law enforcement. I gained confidence needed to approach the application process and knowledge of the law and officer safety, before engaging into police training. Though I am a police officer in Canada, the program has provided me with a standard applicable in any law enforcement community."

- Rob Christenson

What qualities do I need to be successful in law enforcement? (Click to open)

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.

What is Rho Beta Psi?

Rho Beta Psi group

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.

What will I learn in law enforcement?

Crime scene investigation (photo)

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.

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.

Browse additional programs in the CCS Online Catalog.
Browse additional programs in the CCS Online Catalog.
Prison (photo)

Program Description

Corrections is a professional/technical track within the administration of justice program at Spokane Community College. The purpose of this program is to prepare students for employment in the corrections portion of the criminal justice system, with an emphasis on developing skills and knowledge that pertains to working in security facilities.

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Prison (photo)

The corrections program is an outgrowth of recognition for the increasing need of trained personnel in the field. This area of criminal justice is experiencing a great deal of change and expansion. New trends in inmate management and new standards for offender care have contributed to an increased need for employment of more people who possess skills and knowledge applicable to a variety of job requirements.

Students interested in this field of study are encouraged to seek academic counseling. Only a portion of this two-year curriculum is transferable to four-year institutions. Students interested in a four-year degree should inquire at the college to which they plan to attend or transfer for specific information.

Program Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this program will be able to:

  1. compare today's criminal justice system with that of the past,
  2. apply basic methods of institutional management and rehabilitative practices,
  3. apply basic theories for the causes of crime and dynamics of criminal behavior,
  4. participate in simulated situations requiring report writing, testifying, and self-defense skills, and
  5. apply in a fair manner, the laws regulating institutional conduct.

Career Opportunities

Employment opportunities are expected to be excellent through the next decade as population and economic growth create a need for more officers. Corrections officers are needed for expanding jails and detention facilities, additional prisons and for unique program approaches geared to the adult and juvenile offender.

What qualities do I need to be successful in corrections? (Click to open)

There is much more to being a correctional officer than just locking doors. They must keep track of people, monitor inmates' medications and write reports of what they observe. While correctional officers seldom carry weapons, they do stop fights, help solve crimes, and find themselves doing some informal and formal counseling.

Prison (photo)

Life in a prison setting is tense, and correctional officers must deal with this every day. They must be able to spot trouble, and think and act quickly in times of tension, using such personal resources as physical courage, maturity and common sense.

While the only prerequisite needed to enter this program is a high school diploma or GED, anyone considering a career in corrections should like people, be emotionally stable, and have good organizational skills.

Since individuals who have a high sense of security and maturity are critical to this profession, the older student is often an ideal employee. Women, too, are playing a larger role in the corrections field, contributing balance to formerly male-dominated facilities.

What will I learn in the corrections option?

The program offers training for a variety of careers in corrections. Graduates of the program are equipped to work in prisons and jails, juvenile centers, treatment facilities, group homes, and in the private security industry.

The program's security practices are designed for dealing with people in an institutional environment rather than on the street. Consequently, corrections students study institutional management, prisoner rights and behavioral problems. Since correctional officers essentially live with - and must manage - serious criminals, they need to understand the psychological and sociological motivations behind the behavior they will encounter. They also take a stress management seminar, and have a cooperative work experience of at least one quarter working in an area correctional facility.

Where will I find a job in corrections?

Prison (photo)

There is a good job market for graduates, especially in the more populated areas on the coast and with the state correctional systems in Idaho and Washington. Jail facilities in Washington, Idaho and Montana have been expanding in recent years, which increases job opportunities for correctional officers.

Since correctional facilities are on line 24 hours every day, one aspect of the profession is shift work. A second is that since there are not many success stories in correctional facilities, and employee's satisfaction must come from learning about people and enjoying responsibility.

Starting salaries vary from $1,800 to $2,000 per month, and within a few years they typically increase to $2,600 per month. With the coming decade of growth, pay is expected to continue to improve and job advancement opportunities should be frequent.

As the population of prisons has reached record numbers today - and the experts predict these numbers will continue to rise - the employment outlook for correctional officers will continue to be good.

Browse additional programs in the CCS Online Catalog.
Browse additional programs in the CCS Online Catalog.
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 (800) 248-5644 ext. 7356
Email: Michael Prim at Mike.Prim@scc.spokane.edu