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Criminal Justice Articles

What does a Criminologist do?

Criminology is the study of the different facets of crime, criminal justice, and criminal behavior, as well as social, cultural, and media reactions to crime. The term originated from the Latin word cr'men which means "accusations" and the Greek word logia. It was Raffaele Garofalo, an Italian law professor, who coined "criminology" in 1885, but Paul Topinard, a French anthropologist, was the first one who used the word. Criminology is a social and behavioral science that coincides with sociology, psychology, economics, and political science.

Generally, criminologists are concerned with crime and crime prevention.  They work to evaluate and control crime, enforce the law, and aid in the establishment of legal policies to uphold justice. They deal with all types of criminal activities, including petty crime, juvenile delinquency, drug addiction and drug-related crime, organized crime, and others. They participate in community activities to raise the public's awareness of the importance of crime prevention.

The common misconception about criminologists is that they are mainly police officers and crime investigators; the field is quite diverse. You can be a police officer, crime scene investigator, crime researcher, policy advisor, private investigator, government agent, teacher, medical examiner, laboratory technician, or forensic officer.

To become a criminologist, you may need certain skills to handle the challenging tasks that come with the job. It is challenging both physically, mentally, and may require the ability to work under pressure. Other essential skills that are required include a good understanding of the legal system, the ability to think critically, analyze data, present arguments, and persuade and influence people.

Criminologist's responsibilities and lifestyles differ according to their specialization.  Some are required to be on stand-by 24 hours a day, others can have a fixed work schedule. The responsibilities of a criminologist can cover a wide scope of activities or they can be very specific functions. Investigators will have to collect, document, and analyze evidences, and they may have to deal with emotional situations as they come into contact with law offenders, victims, and their family members. They are expected to possess logical thinking skills to solve criminal cases. Those who handle crime research will focus on the analysis of evidence materials and the presentation of the results. There are administrative officers who handle the documentation of criminal data, including the administrative tasks.

There are many schools and institutions that offer courses on criminology. The modules may focus on the theories of criminology as a science, analysis of crimes, the criminal justice system, criminal research, and practical crime-prevention training. Depending on the position and specialization you seek, you may have to get a bachelor's or master's degree in criminology or other fields of study that are related to the job.

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