AKRON — When someone thinks of the criminal justice system, the general line of thought is making arrests and dispensing justice to criminals.
The University of Akron recently has added other facets: preventing crime, helping victims of crime and rehabilitation for offenders.
The university created two new bachelor's degree programs to train students on these issues and more, launching the new programs last fall. The two new programs, bachelor’s of science in criminal intelligence analysis, and a bachelor’s of science in criminology and criminal justice, are offered through UA’s Buchtel College of Arts and Sciences. Faculty from three disciplines — criminal justice, political science and sociology — participated in creating the structure and new courses for the new degrees.
Dr. David Licate of Stow, a professor in the new program, said the university has had this program in the works for about eight years.
"The University of Akron is the only state institution in Ohio training aspiring criminal intelligence analysts," Licate said. "Whether a graduate is in a career assigned to help detectives find a serial offender, track down a terrorism cell, or devise a policing strategy for a crime hot spot, they will be on the front lines of the next generation of crime fighting."
In the first of two new degrees, criminal intelligence analysis will have students pursuing a broad core of courses in order to learn to gather, analyze, and evaluate information from a variety of sources including policing databases, surveillance, intelligence networks, and geographic information systems. They will learn how to use the resulting intelligence to anticipate, prevent, and reduce the opportunity for criminal activity, such as making a crime map to better direct patrols in a high crime area.
A criminal intelligence analyst uses data and information to help criminal justice, homeland security, and business people make good decisions on how best to use resources to solve crime and homeland security problems. Analysts must be good at finding and interpreting data, influencing people, and warning people about threats. Communicating information that keeps a city safe from terrorism and school violence. Analysts can also be instrumental in the writing of successful grant proposals to local, regional and federal funding agencies.
"The program is 'next generation' criminal justice education," Licate said. "It combines courses in the social sciences with courses in computer and geographic information systems. The combination of analytical and technological courses makes the program one of kind nationally and in great demand by practitioners and those new to the field."
Licate, who was employed as an investigations analyst for a private corporation before earning his Ph.D and becoming a full-time academic, said "the role of crime and intelligence analysis has greatly expanded in the past decade," especially after the events of Sept. 11.
"First, computer information systems and training on how to use them is now available to policing and homeland security agencies," he said. "Second, public safety agencies can no longer be reactive. They cannot wait for the next terrorist attack or school shooting. Crime and intelligence analysis helps detect threats before they occur…helps the police to be more proactive in preventing crime instead of responding to it. Finally, crime analysts help the police to allocate their resources more effectively and efficiently. The analyst helps to target limited resources and make data-driven recommendations for strategies to control crime and other problems."
In the second of two new degrees, the criminology and criminal justice program is also an interdisciplinary degree that includes classes from criminal justice, sociology, and political science.
"The criminology and criminal justice degree is a more traditional criminal justice degree for those students pursuing a career in policing, courts or corrections," described Dr. Bill Lyons, the interim chair of sociology. "Students will take a series of fundamental courses, then choose to specialize in policing, courts, corrections or criminology."
Students in this program can choose to study from a range of courses as they seek to understand the causes and consequences of crime, policing strategies and techniques, the judicial process and different methods of punishment and rehabilitation of offenders for both adults and juveniles. Students will also be well-grounded in the practical application of criminal justice strategies through courses that offer hands-on learning in the crime lab as well as internship experiences in the field. This gives students a broad background and deeper understanding of criminal justice theory, policy, and practice that is unlike any other degree program.
"We are thrilled to be offering these degrees to students and have many exciting courses planned for upcoming semesters. All of the faculty have years of real-world experience in law enforcement, courts, and law enforcement and are eager to help students learn about the system," explains Dr. Nancy Marion, chair of the criminal justice studies program. "Graduates of our program will be qualified to find careers in criminal justice and be successful in them."
Licate said that the University of Akron has had a criminal justice program since the 1960s. However, the degrees were spread across campus with an associate’s degree in the College of Applied Science and Technology, and two different bachelor’s degrees in the Departments of Political Science and Sociology in Buchtel College of Arts and Sciences.
"Student demand for a dedicated bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, coupled with advice from an advisory committee consisting of criminal justice professionals led to the development of the new degrees," Licate said. "After nearly a decade of planning, the Departments of Criminal Justice Studies, Political Science, and Sociology are implementing two new bachelor of science degrees."
So far, there are between 450 and 500 students majoring in one of the two programs, Licate said.
Both fields are projected to grow much faster than the average, each with a potential growth of 100,000 or more job openings over the period 2014-24, according to information provided by the university and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics external site. The median wages as measured in 2016 were $78,120 annually for a criminal intelligence analyst and $61,600 for criminal justice and criminology, though salaries for criminal justice and criminology graduates may vary, based on location.
More information about either degree is available by contacting Marion at 330-972-5551 or email@example.com; Licate at 330-972-7392 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or Dr. Stacey Nofziger at 330-972-5364 or email@example.com in UA’s Buchtel College of Arts and Sciences. Information also can be found at uakron.edu/cjs online.
Reporter April Helms can be reached at 330-541-9423, firstname.lastname@example.org, or ??@AprilKHelms_RPC??.