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Industry Spotlight

Criminal justice professionals must stay abreast of current digital tools and applications in order to combat crime successfully.

As long as humankind has been around, so has criminal justice in one form or another.

Early records show that many ancient civilizations had their own versions of law enforcement, court systems and corrections facilities with similar approaches over the centuries. Today though, innovation and globalization are impacting the rate at which criminal justice is evolving—and ultimately influencing the future of the field.

A state of transition

Technology has left almost no area of our lives untouched. The way we communicate with one another, spend our money, pay our bills and look after our health have changed greatly over the past two decades.

“With mobile and personal computing devices, everybody has the ability to store and transfer electronic information more easily and affordably than ever before,” notes Franzi Walsh, DBA, criminal justice program dean for the University of Phoenix College of Security and Criminal Justice.

Savvy criminals also are using technology as a means to perpetrate crimes, such as theft and fraud. Migration, which is on the rise in many areas around the world due to political unrest and economic instability, also is driving change in the field. “In the future, criminal justice professionals will be interacting with individuals from many different cultural and religious backgrounds,” says Walsh.  

One way law enforcement professionals are addressing an increase in responsibility is by implementing a community policing philosophy, explains Donald R. Munday, Ed.D., a former chief of police and the current dean of assessment for the University of Phoenix College of Security and Criminal Justice. In community policing, law enforcement agencies partner with community groups in order to build positive working relationships.

“You have to build trust in the community, and then partnerships can be developed,” says Munday.

Basic training

Strong communication skills are an integral part of working well in criminal justice positions that require extensive face-to-face contact with members of the community, as well as colleagues and leaders.

An influx of immigrants also will create a need for employees with the skills required to interact effectively across a wide range of populations, particularly those in diversity-focused roles. Knowing how to speak a foreign language or two won’t hurt, either.

Strong critical-thinking skills are essential, too. Law enforcement officers must assess situations they encounter and plan appropriate responses, frequently on the fly. A solid foundation of training can help criminal justice professionals perform effectively and safely under the most stressful circumstances.

Because criminal justice professionals often are tasked to do more with less funding, creative problem-solving has become a must-have skill. Criminal justice professionals must also have a thorough understanding of ethics so they can uphold their responsibilities with integrity and maintain the trust of the community.

It’s important to hone the wide array of skills required for success by earning related degrees or certificates, such as University of Phoenix’s Criminal Justice Management Certificate. For more information on the University of Phoenix criminal justice-related programs and certificates, visit



For gainful employment information, including on-time completion rates, the median debt incurred by students who completed the program and other important information, please visit