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Law Enforcement
Law Enforcement
Career Opportunities and Work Life

A degree in Law Enforcement may lead to many different career opportunities.

Uniformed police officers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, make up about 65 percent of state and local law enforcement officers. They work in various sized police departments, rural areas, colleges, and communities where they perform general law enforcement duties. They may perform first aid, respond to emergency calls, direct traffic, or investigate a crime scene.

Officers work in shifts, and often parole a specific area within their geographic district. While on parole, officers may track and arrest a suspected criminal, work out problems within the community, and enforce traffic laws.

State police officers have jurisdiction statewide to arrest criminals and enforce motor vehicle laws. These officers often issue traffic citations, direct traffic, give first aid, call for emergency crews, and write accident reports. State officers are found in every state, except Hawaii.

Detectives are investigators dressed as civilians who gather facts and collect criminal evidence for a case. They often perform interviews, review records, observe suspects, and help in arrests.

The Federal Government employs many law enforcement officials.

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents are the Government's primary investigators. Agents may conduct surveillance, review business accounts, and collect evidence in white-collar crimes, espionage, and illegal interstate movement. The FBI often has undercover agents investigating organized crime, bribery, extortion, terrorism, and many other violations of Federal statutes.

  • U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents enforce laws dealing with illegal drugs. Agents often conduct criminal investigations, track suspected criminals, and break into illegal drug organizations.

  • U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) agents oversee entries into the United States. If an immigrant is found to an illegal resident, the INS will deport the visitor. According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, nearly half of sworn in officers are boarder patrol agents.

  • Bureau of Diplomatic Security is in the fight against terrorism. While in the United States, they verify passports and visas, issue security evacuations, protect foreign dignitaries, and conduct security investigations. Overseas, they are an advisor on many security matters and manage security systems.

Work Environment

Many officers and agents are scheduled to work 40-hour weeks, but overtime is common. Shifts are necessary to give communities around the clock safety and protection. Weekends, nights, and holiday shifts should be expected.

Many Federal positions require extensive travel, often on short notice. Job relocation is not uncommon.

Employment Outlook
Nationally, new job opportunities for law enforcement workers are expected to grow by 7 percent by 2020. For police and sheriff's patrol workers, specifically, growth is expected to be 9 percent nationally, and 4 percent within Michigan. Population growth stems a demand for police services.

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