A career in criminal justice is one of the most sought-after jobs in the San Francisco Bay Area. Not only do entry-level positions in areas such as law enforcement command a competitive salary and outstanding benefits, it also commands a tremendous amount of respect from the community, their families, friends and peers.

(Photo Courtesy of Dan Lawson)

(Photo Courtesy of Dan Lawson)

Although an undergraduate degree is not generally required to become a law enforcement officer at the local level, career advancement is further strengthened with an education in a specialized field. Furthermore, an education in criminal justice will stand out amongst other job applicants vying for the same job.

Dan Lawson, EhD., Senior Director of the Department of Public Safety at the University of San Francisco, has spent a lifetime in the criminal justice field, including 34 years of public service with the San Francisco Police Department and instructing for 35 years at City College of San Francisco. With a tremendous wealth of experience in the field, he offers valuable insight for people interested in a career in criminal justice. 

What is your position and background in the criminal justice field?

“I am a retired SFPD Captain of 34 years. I am currently the Director (Chief) of the University of San Francisco Public Safety Department. I have taught criminal justice and leadership at a number of colleges and universities (and SFPD Academy) in the Bay Area. I have been instructing at CCSF for 35 years.”

What educational requirements are necessary for a management position in criminal justice?

“Federal level (FBI, etc.) and local level (probation and parole) require a minimum of a BA or BS. Many police and sheriff applicants have a degree but most local level departments nationwide do not require a four-year degree. However, many departments nationwide are requiring a bachelor’s or master’s for promotion (upper management -Lt. and above).”

What advice can you give to people interested in entering a career in law enforcement?

“Understand that law enforcement is so much more than arrests. Officers today that meet the community expectations around community policing need to be collaborative, creative, flexible and skilled in conflict resolution and collaborative problem solving.”

Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com Examiner.com.


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