Degree Programs for Criminal Justice Jobs in Delaware

Being located midway between the major metropolises of New York City and Washington D.C. and just a short drive from Philadelphia, which has been both a blessing and a curse for Delaware.

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Although Delaware continues to rank high among U.S. states according to average household income, it also consistently ranks among the top states for its violent crime rate. In fact, recent statistics show that Delaware’s violent crime rates stands at 547.4 per 100,000 residents, ranking it among the nation’s 10 worst states for violent crime in 2012.

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During the same period, Wilmington, its largest city, had the eighth worst aggravated assault rate and the fifth worst property crime rate in the nation.

These abysmal statistics are a clear indication of the need for highly trained criminal justice professionals in Delaware. From law enforcement and criminal investigations, to legal support and corrections, becoming part of the solution as a member of Delaware’s criminal justice community starts with the right education.

Law Enforcement Careers in Delaware

Law enforcement officers in Delaware generally consist of uniformed personnel who work at the state, city, or county level. From patrol and preliminary investigations to arrest and interrogation, Delaware’s law enforcement officers are called upon to serve the State of Delaware in a wide variety of capacities.

Job Qualifications for State-Level Law Enforcement Officers in Delaware

Law enforcement officers of the Delaware State Police are Delaware State Troopers, who are responsible for patrol and special assignments. Their work often includes directing traffic, making arrests, controlling crowds, processing prisoners, and testifying in court.

Delaware State Troopers may work out of one or more of the State Police’s Troop Locations:

  • Wilmington
  • Bridgeville
  • Newark
  • Dover
  • Lewes
  • Georgetown
  • Odessa

To qualify for Delaware State Trooper jobs, candidates must be a U.S. citizen, must be at least 21 by the time they finish Academy training, and must possess at least 60 semester credits from an accredited college or university (or 30 semester credits if they have completed at least two years of active duty military service). To compete for the rank of Sergeant, candidates must have completed at least 60 college credits.

Candidates must complete a bachelor degree to compete for the rank of Lieutenant and above.

It is common for individuals interested in becoming Delaware State Troopers to possess degrees in areas such as:

  • Law Enforcement
  • Public Safety
  • Police Science

Job Qualifications for Local Law Enforcement Officers in Delaware

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 1,690 police and sheriff patrol officers in Delaware as of May 2013.

Minimum requirements for law enforcement officers at the city or county level are typically very similar, as candidates must be at least 21 years old, must possess a high school diploma or GED, and must be a U.S. citizen. Although post-secondary education is not always a requirement to become a police office/sheriff’s deputy at the local level, many times it is a requirement for advancement.

A number of departments, such as the Newark Police Department, require candidates to possess an associate’s degree or at least half of the requirements toward a bachelor’s degree. Like State Troopers, local police officers/sheriff’s deputies usually choose to pursue degrees in areas such as law enforcement, public safety, or police science.

Just a few of the major police/sheriff departments in Delaware include:

  • Wilmington Police Department
  • Dover Police Department
  • Middletown Police Department
  • Sussex County Sheriff’s Office

Criminal Investigation Job Requirements in Delaware

The next step for many police officers is criminal investigations, which often consists of interviewing witnesses and suspects, performing research, and investigating crime scenes. Criminal investigators/detectives are almost always police officers who have experience and/or education that makes them eligible to be promoted to investigations.

It is common for criminal investigators to possess bachelor and even master degrees in areas such as psychology, criminal forensics, psychology, and forensic science.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a total of 80 detectives and criminal investigators in Delaware, as of May 2013.

At the local level, criminal investigators may work for a police department/sheriff’s department. Depending on the size of the law enforcement agency, criminal investigation may be organized into a number of units/divisions. Just a few of the criminal investigation divisions found throughout Delaware include:

  • Harrington Police Department, Criminal Investigations Division
  • Seaford Police Department, Criminal Investigations
  • Dover Police Department, Criminal Investigations Unit

Corrections Officer Jobs in Delaware

Correctional officers are responsible for overseeing the operations of a correctional facility, which includes ensuring prisoner compliance and safety, transporting prisoners to and from the facility, and completing procedural checks of the facility.

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A career in corrections in Delaware may be found at the state level only, as there are no federal correctional facilities in Delaware and no local jails.

Therefore, correctional officers in Delaware work for the Delaware Department of Correction, which includes the following prisons:

  • Baylor Women’s Correctional Institution, New Castle
  • Howard R. Young Correctional Institution, Wilmington
  • James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, Smyrna
  • Sussex Correctional Institution, Georgetown

To become a correctional officer with the Delaware Department of Correction, candidates must be at least 19 ½ years old, must possess a high school diploma or the equivalent, and must possess a current and valid driver’s license.

For many candidates pursuing correctional officer jobs in Delaware, it is often beneficial to complete a degree program in corrections, as it may better prepare them for a challenging career in corrections and for future career opportunities.

Crime Scene Investigation and Forensic Science Careers in Delaware

Crime scene investigation and forensics are important components of any criminal investigation; therefore, crime scene investigators and forensic scientists provide vital services to the criminal justice system of Delaware.

Crime scene investigators are usually skilled police officers who have training and education in forensics and criminal investigations, while forensic scientists/technicians have extensive study in forensic science via bachelor or master degree programs in the natural sciences or in forensic science.

Crime scene investigators work for state or local agencies, such as:

  • Delaware State Police, Criminal Intelligence and Homeland Security Section
  • Dover Police Department, Crime Scene Investigations Unit

Although a few police departments in Delaware have their own crime labs, most forensic scientists work for the Delaware State Police Crime Lab in Dover. This state lab provides services for many of the local and municipal police departments in Delaware, as well as for the Delaware State Police and a number of federal agencies. The State Police Crime Lab consists of the following units:

  • Blood and breath alcohol
  • Questioned document unit
  • Photography unit
  • Hairs and fibers unit

Paralegal Careers in Delaware

Paralegals, often referred to as legal assistants, are responsible for helping attorneys prepare for trail by conducting research, preparing documents, and drafting legal documents. A career in the paralegal profession most often begins with the completion of a certificate or associate’s degree program in paralegal studies that is recognized by the American Bar Association.

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Experienced paralegals often benefit from the completion of a national certification program, which allows them to stand out from their peers and earn recognition as a highly qualified legal assistant. The national organizations that currently provide paralegal certification include:

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

Just a few of the law firms in Delaware that likely hire many paralegals include:

  • Murphy Law Firm, Georgetown
  • Duane Morris LLP, Wilmington
  • DLA Piper LLP, Wilmington
  • Morris James LLP, Dover

Degrees by State