When you earn your online criminal justice degree, you want more than theory — you need real-world expertise that you can apply to your career. At Southeastern University, we strive to offer you classes taught by professors with real-world experience. Christopher Maffei is one example of this commitment to relevant education. Not only is Maffei an adjunct professor in our online criminal justice program, he also works as a county deputy and undercover detective, daily working in his field with the latest technologies available to criminal justice professionals.
Integrating Experience in the Classroom
Maffei, who has worked in criminal justice for six years, says that technology has played a big role in the criminal justice industry. Social media is one example, as police tactics and other information have been put on display for the whole world to see.
Technology has also affected a newcomer to the industry: intelligence-led policing. As Maffei explains it, intelligence-led policing is “identifying the supposed six percent of the population that commits 60 percent of crime.” It leverages data to form crime maps and is regarded as the “wave of the future,” he said.
Maffei uses intelligence-led policing on a daily basis as a deputy and undercover detective. He and his team will examine trends and possible suspects, with a focus on priority offenders and available data. Then, they’ll attempt to locate these offenders through undercover work or surveillance. Interviews with confidential informants are also effective.
Maffei takes this experience to the online classroom, focusing on discussion questions that relate to the real world and using actual police incidents to demonstrate what it’s like to be a criminal justice professional.
“I want them to understand what they’re studying and the real-life practical application of that,” Maffei said. He also believes that this helps students understand if the career is right for them.
How Education Can Make a Difference
For Maffei, his criminal justice education has made the most impact on the administrative part of his career.
“My college education overall helped me be a better communicator via my written reports,” Maffei said. “It helped me be able to talk to different types of people, and I think that’s the way it’s most obvious to me.” Pointing out that “law enforcement is primarily writing,” he said that an education in criminal justice is most visible in written and verbal communication.
Overall, diversify yourself the best you can,” Maffei said. “I think that it wouldn’t hurt to do a double major or a minor, or if you go on to get a master’s degree, get it in something that will help spread you a little bit.”
Students interested in criminal justice should similarly cling to their education. Maffei works at a sheriff’s agency that has one of the largest staffs in the country, and its educational requirements may be on the rise. Currently, it requires a two-year degree, or the 60-hour equivalent, and that could change soon.
“I foresee a day when a four-year [degree] is required,” he said, which would follow the path already forged by other agencies across the country.
In addition to education, there are other ways to compete for jobs and promotions. “I think being bilingual is very helpful,” he said. “I’m not and I wish I was because I work in a largely Hispanic area, and I make due the best I can.”
“Overall, diversify yourself the best you can,” Maffei said. “I think that it wouldn’t hurt to do a double major or a minor, or if you go on to get a master’s degree, get it in something that will help spread you a little bit.”