Degree Programs for Criminal Justice Jobs in Connecticut

According to a June 2013 article, the Connecticut cities of New Haven, Bridgeport, and Hartford all ranked among the 25 most dangerous cities in America due largely to a proliferation of street gangs. Bridgeport, in particular, had a rate of 15 murders per 100,000 residents in 2012, following a rash of gun violence. The Connecticut Post reported that there were no less than 15 organized gangs operating in Bridgeport.

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From the law enforcement professionals that combat street gangs head on and the detectives and forensic scientists that handle criminal investigations, to the paralegals that support prosecutors and the correctional officers that ensure criminals pay their debt to society – Connecticut’s criminal justice professionals are highly skilled and dedicated to keeping residents safe.

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Whether in law enforcement, forensic science, paralegal studies, or corrections, a degree in one of the specialized areas of criminal justice prepares candidates to become key contributors to Connecticut’s criminal justice system.

Law Enforcement Jobs in Connecticut

Uniformed police officers are responsible for enforcing laws, patrolling neighborhoods, and preventing crimes, among many others. Law enforcement officers in Connecticut may work at the state, city, or county level:

State Jobs for Law Enforcement Officers

Law enforcement officers at the state level work for the Connecticut State Police as State Police Troopers. Candidates for State Police Trooper jobs must be at least 21 years old, they must possess a high school diploma or GED, and they must be free of any Class A felony or Class B misdemeanors, among others.

Although not a requirement for employment as a state law enforcement officer, many candidates choose to complete a degree program in a related area, such as law enforcement or police science, as a way to prepare themselves for a career with one of Connecticut’s law enforcement agencies.

City/County Jobs for Law Enforcement Officers

At the city/county level, law enforcement officers work as police officers for city police departments and sheriff’s deputies for county sheriff’s offices. Like the state police, most departments require candidates to meet a number of minimum requirements, which include being at least 21 years old, possessing a high school diploma or GED, and possessing a valid driver’s license. Further, a number of departments, such as the New Haven Police Department, strongly prefer candidates who possess additional education and/or work experience.

Some of the largest police/sheriff’s departments in Connecticut include:

  • Stamford Police Department
  • New Haven Police Department
  • Greenwich Police Department
  • Fairfield County Sheriff’s Department
  • Hartford County Sheriff’s Office

Criminal Investigator/Detective Job Requirements in Connecticut

When a crime is committed, it is up to the highly skilled criminal investigators to investigate the crime and determine a suspect or suspects and a motive.

Criminal investigative divisions are found within nearly all law enforcement departments in Connecticut, although some are, of course, significantly larger and more complex than others. For example, the Norwalk Police Department has a large Investigative Services Bureau that is organized into three, distinct divisions/units:

  • Detective Division
  • Special Services Unit
  • Special Victims Unit

Individuals who want to become a criminal investigator/detective are generally first required to become a police officer and work their way through the ranks. In addition, many departments require or recommend that criminal investigators complete a formal course of study in an area related to criminal justice. Just a few of the degree programs commonly pursued by individuals in this field include: crime scene investigations, forensic science, and police science.

The criminal investigators of the Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection may work for one of the following agencies:

  • Connecticut State Police, Major Crime Squad: Processes major crime scenes and handles the primary investigative responsibility for bank robberies, homicides, assaults that lead to death, suspicious deaths, and kidnapping
  • Bureau of Criminal Investigations: Covers the following units/sections:
    • Auto Theft Unit
    • Central Criminal Intelligence Unit
    • Extraditions Unit
    • Fugitive Task Force
    • Narcotics Task Force
    • Statewide Cooperative Crime Control Task Force
    • Statewide Organized Crime Investigative Task Force
  • Fire Investigations Unit: Investigates fire, arson, and explosive investigations

The Division of Criminal Justice, Cold Case Investigations Division, which was established by the Chief’s State Attorney, works exclusively on unsolved homicides. This agency works with investigators from:

  • Office of the Chief State’s Attorney
  • State of Connecticut Department of Correction
  • Hartford Police Department
  • New Haven Police Department
  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives

Correctional Officer Jobs in Connecticut

Correctional officers, the criminal justice professionals responsible for overseeing the detainee population, transporting prisoners, and patrolling correctional facilities, may work at the federal and state level in Connecticut.

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Correctional officers working at the federal level in Connecticut are employed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), which has a facility in Danbury FCI. Like all federal employees hired at the GS-05 level, correctional officer candidates must either possess a four-year degree from an accredited college or university or at least 3 years of general experience, or 1 year of specialized experience. Typical majors for federal correctional officers include corrections, public safety and sociology.

At the state level, correctional officers are employed by the Connecticut Department of Correction, which has 19 facilities throughout Connecticut, including:

  • Bridgeport CC
  • Cheshire CI
  • New Haven CC
  • York CI
  • Robinson CI

The combined jail-prison system in Connecticut, reports the National Institute of Corrections, housed about 17,600 inmates in July 2011.

To become a correctional officer through the Connecticut Department of Correction, individuals must be at least 21 years old; they must possess a high school diploma or GED; and they must be free of any felony convictions.

Emergency Management and Homeland Security Jobs in Connecticut

The Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection oversees the following offices:

  • Homeland Security
    • The Office of Counter Terrorism
    • Connecticut Intelligence Center Unit
    • Critical Infrastructure Protection Unit
    • Joint Terrorism Task Force
  • Office of Emergency Management
    • Operations, Training and Exercise
    • All-Hazards Planning
    • Field Support Coordination
    • Strategic Planning and Community Preparedness

Because of the wide breadth of the field of emergency management/homeland security, job requirements vary. However, typical degree requirements for professionals in this field include: emergency management, homeland security, criminal justice, environmental hazards management, and disaster preparedness.

Paralegal Jobs in Connecticut

Paralegals are a unique subset of the criminal justice field in Connecticut, as these legal assistant professionals are responsible for assisting lawyers and law firms by researching, interviewing, compiling information, and creating reports.

Paralegal job requirements vary from one employer to the next, although most employers prefer paralegal candidates with a certificate or associate’s degree program in paralegal studies through a program that is recognized by the American Bar Association.

National certification is commonplace in this profession, and many employers seek experienced paralegals that possess certification from one or more of the following accrediting bodies:

  • National Association for Legal Professionals
  • National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA)
  • National Federation of Paralegal Associations

Some of the largest law firms in Connecticut where paralegal employment is likely plentiful include:

  • Garrison, Levin-Epstein, Richardson, Fitzgerald & Pirrott, P.C., New Haven
  • Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder, P.C., Bridgeport
  • RisCassi & Davis P.C., Hartford
  • Faxon Law Group, New Haven

Forensic Science and Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) Jobs in Connecticut

Crime scene investigators and forensic scientists, as part of a comprehensive criminal investigative team, work to collect, preserve, and analyze evidence found at the scene of a crime. While the work of crime scene investigators is at the crime scene, the work of forensic scientists and technicians takes place in the crime lab.

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Bachelor and master’s programs are commonplace among these criminal justice professionals, although forensic technicians may also begin their careers by completing an associate’s degree.

Crime scene investigators work through the criminal investigative division of a law enforcement agency. Just a few of the CSI divisions found throughout Connecticut include:

  • Waterbury Police Department, Forensics Unit
  • West Haven Police Department, Identification Unit

The central forensics laboratory in Connecticut, the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection’s Forensic Science Laboratory, is responsible for all forensic examinations for the State of Connecticut. The work of the forensic scientists in the Forensic Science Laboratory includes:

  • Arson/chemistry
  • Color processing
  • Database DNA
  • Firearms/toolmarks
  • Forensic biology
  • Imprints/impressions
  • Latent prints
  • Mitochondrial DNA
  • Nuclear DNA
  • Photography and imaging
  • Trace evidence

Federal Criminal Justice Jobs in Connecticut

Federal criminal justice jobs in Connecticut, from law enforcement and criminal investigations to forensics and beyond, may be found through the following agencies:

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
    • New Haven
  • U.S. Secret Service
    • New Haven
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection
    • Bridgeport
    • Hartford
    • New Haven
    • New London

Most criminal justice careers with the federal government begin at the GS-5 level, which requires candidates to be U.S. citizens, to be between the ages of 21 and 36, and to possess either a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university or at least 3 years of generalized experience (or 1 year of specialized work experience).

Degrees by State