Gangsters vs. G-Men: Use Your Criminal Justice Degree to Take on Organized Crime

man on hand radio with blue overlay

                                                                                                                                                                    If you’re like me, your fascination with criminal justice began with a misspent youth watching every gangster movie on the video store shelf.

Maybe you pictured yourself disrupting drug deals for the Tony Montana’s of the world. Perhaps play time for you meant pretending to penetrate the New York mafia like FBI special agent Joe Pistone in Donnie Brasco. Or maybe you were the The Untouchables’ Eliot Ness, hunting Al Capone with a crack team of rogue cops.

Your interest in organized crime is what inspires you to look into earning a criminal justice degree – and maybe even a specialization in homeland security. And, you couldn’t have picked a better time to get involved.

Law enforcement agencies are seeing a more sophisticated and pervasive brand of organized crime every day, and earning a degree is one way to make sure you’re on the frontlines of the fight.

Organized crime: an evolving threat

Speaking to the Citizens Crime Commission of New York in 2011, FBI director Robert Mueller spoke candidly about the fact that organized crime continues to flourish in America.

Mueller explained that organized crime has shifted out of the smoky backrooms and seedy storefronts of New York and New Jersey and gone international. He specifically mentions groups from Asia, Eastern Europe, West Africa and the Middle East as the primary players in various forms of smuggling, trafficking, financial fraud and price-fixing.

Mueller compares large crime syndicates to Fortune 500 companies – complete with billion-dollar bankrolls and global influence.

In fact, the FBI estimates that the economic impact of global organized crime – often referred to as “transnational crime”reaps illegal profits of up to $1 trillion per year.

Organized crime: the reality

While this FBI statistic may be surprising, it’s just one of several trends pointing toward a crime problem that is growing in complexity and worldwide reach.

“We’ll never fully get a grasp on organized crime … at both the federal and state level, we’re not very well staffed to combat it,” says Marie Fulop, veteran law enforcement officer and program coordinator for the School of Justice Studies in Fort Myers (Fla.).

According to the U.S. National Security Strategy on fighting transnational crime:

One of the big challenges in managing, tracking and infiltrating organized crime rings is the transient nature of law enforcement personnel, Fulop says.

She explains that it can take four or five years for an officer or agent to build a trustworthy network of contacts and become an expert in organized crime. Then, as soon as experienced people are in the right places, reassignment or opportunity for promotion causes them to switch departments. And so the cycle continues.

“[Law enforcement] is outweighed huge by the bad guys,” Fulop says. “We always need more staff.”

That’s where you come in

Earning a criminal justice degree is a great place to start if you want to join the fight against organized crime, Fulop says.

Once you’re in the field, you’ve got to learn a lot of information about the threats that exist and the places they originate and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. A degree can help you learn how to absorb and process all that information.

Smart people that have demonstrated the intelligence and initiative to earn a college degree is exactly what’s needed in the lopsided fight against organized crime, Fulop says. “We’ll never outnumber [the criminals], so we have to outsmart them.”

It’s true that the FBI has led the charge against organized crime in America since the days of Al Capone. But today, federal law enforcement agencies including DEA, ATF, Secret Service, Postal Inspection and Immigration & Customs Enforcement all assist in the fight – and allrequire new applicants to hold college degrees.

But if you’re thinking that the only way you can help fight organized crime is to meet the rigorous federal requirements, you’re mistaken. Federal agencies routinely participate in joint task forces with state and local law enforcement to pool resources and share responsibilities.

But to get placed on one of those task forces, you need to three or four years experience in your state or local department and you need to distinguish yourself from the pool of applicants, Fulop says. Earning a criminal justice degree is a great way to do that.

A degree is your first step toward that career you’ve been dreaming about since the first time you looked in the mirror and said in your best Dirty Harry voice: “You’ve got to ask yourself a question: Do I feel lucky? Well do ya … punk?”

About the author

Jeff Roberts

Jeff is the Content Marketing Editor at Collegis Education. He oversees all of the blog and newsletter content for Rasmussen University. As a writer, he creates articles that educate, encourage and motivate current and future students.

male writer

Related Content

Related Content

This piece of ad content was created by Rasmussen University to support its educational programs. Rasmussen University may not prepare students for all positions featured within this content. Please visit for a list of programs offered. External links provided on are for reference only. Rasmussen University does not guarantee, approve, control, or specifically endorse the information or products available on websites linked to, and is not endorsed by website owners, authors and/or organizations referenced. Rasmussen University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, an institutional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

logo-accreditation-acen logo-accreditation-ccne chart-credential-laddering-associates-bachelors-masters 0 Credits 90 Credits 180 Credits 48 Credits Start Here HIGH SCHOOL GRADS Start Here TRANSFER STUDENTS Start Here SECOND DEGREE PURSUERS End Here ASSOCIATE'S DEGREE Start Here MASTER'S DEGREE PURSUERS End Here BACHELOR'S DEGREE End Here MASTER'S DEGREE chart-credential-laddering-associates-bachelors 0 Credits Start Here HIGH SCHOOL GRADS Start Here TRANSFER STUDENTS 90 Credits Start Here SECOND DEGREE PURSUERS End Here ASSOCIATE'S DEGREE 180 Credits End Here BACHELOR'S DEGREE chart-credential-laddering-msn chart-credential-laddering-nursing-programs chart-credential-laddering-post-grad-np chart-credential-laddering-nursing DNP MSN RN to BSN LPN to RN Bridge Accelerated BSN Professional Nursing ADN Practical Nursing Diploma Pre-Licensure Post-Licensure icon-colored-outline-bank icon-colored-outline-certificate icon-colored-outline-circle-dollar-sign icon-colored-outline-folder-search icon-colored-outline-hand-heart icon-colored-outline-head-blocks icon-colored-outline-head-cog icon-colored-outline-head-heart icon-colored-outline-health-plus-leaves icon-colored-outline-hospital icon-colored-outline-lifelong-learning icon-colored-outline-light-bulb-analytics icon-colored-outline-location-pin icon-colored-outline-magnifying-glass icon-colored-outline-monitor-healthcare icon-colored-outline-monitor-paper-search icon-colored-outline-nurse-rays icon-colored-outline-padlock-shield icon-colored-outline-person-presenter-screen icon-colored-outline-scales ras-logo-flame ras-logo-horizontal ras-logo-stacked icon-colored-advance icon-colored-arrows-cross-curve icon-colored-briefcase-star icon-colored-build icon-colored-bulb-analytics icon-colored-certificate icon-colored-continual-development icon-colored-duo-chatbox icon-colored-folder-mortarboard icon-colored-forward-ribbon icon-colored-gears-clock icon-colored-globe-pen icon-colored-growth icon-colored-hand-bubble icon-colored-hand-stars icon-colored-hands-gear icon-colored-head-blocks icon-colored-head-cog icon-colored-health-plus-leaves icon-colored-hospital-building icon-colored-laptop-cbe-skyscraper icon-colored-laptop-checkmark icon-colored-laptop-webpage icon-colored-location-map icon-colored-location-pin icon-colored-monitor-paper-scan icon-colored-mortarboard-dollar icon-colored-national icon-colored-people-chat-bubbles icon-colored-person-cheer-star icon-colored-person-laptop-checkboxes icon-colored-person-screen-instructor icon-colored-person-whiteboard icon-colored-phone-chatbox icon-colored-police-light icon-colored-prep icon-colored-presenter icon-colored-regional icon-colored-save-time icon-colored-shirt-hat icon-colored-skyscraper icon-colored-state icon-colored-student-centered icon-colored-support icon-colored-world-experience icon-triangle-arrow-up-plant icon-triangle-calendar-pencil icon-triangle-clock-rotating-arrows icon-triangle-display-gears icon-triangle-hand-right-speech-bubble icon-triangle-laptop-coding-brackets icon-triangle-mortarboard icon-triangle-paper-ribbon icon-triangle-person-cheer-star icon-triangle-person-juggle icon-triangle-triple-people-chat-bubble icon-modality-campus icon-modality-field icon-modality-online icon-modality-residential icon-arrow icon-bank icon-camera icon-filter icon-general-chart icon-general-connect icon-general-degree icon-general-discuss icon-general-email icon-general-find icon-general-hat icon-general-heart icon-general-laptop-building icon-general-laptop icon-general-leader icon-general-map icon-general-money icon-general-paperwork icon-general-people icon-general-phone icon-general-speak-out icon-head-heart icon-info-circle icon-mail-forward icon-mglass icon-play-solid icon-quote-mark-left icon-quote-mark-right icon-scales icon-share-square-o icon-simple-chat icon-simple-desktop icon-simple-find icon-simple-hamburger icon-simple-phone icon-spinner icon-tag icon-testimonial-quotes icon-util-checkbox-white icon-util-checkbox icon-util-checked-white icon-util-checked icon-util-chevron-down icon-util-chevron-left icon-util-chevron-right icon-util-chevron-up icon-util-circle-arrow-down icon-util-circle-dot icon-util-language-switch icon-util-loading icon-util-open-window-link icon-util-pdf-link icon-util-refresh icon-util-x rebrand-arrows icon-social-facebook-colored icon-social-facebook-square-colored icon-social-facebook-square icon-social-facebook icon-social-google-plus-square icon-social-google-plus icon-social-instagram-colored icon-social-instagram icon-social-linkedin-square-colored icon-social-linkedin-square icon-social-linkedin icon-social-pinterest-p-colored icon-social-pinterest-p icon-social-twitter-colored icon-social-twitter-square icon-social-twitter icon-social-youtube-play-colored icon-social-youtube-play graduate-cap-star-coin hand-coin hand-heart nurse-stethoscope-rays card-send-smile person-yoga-pose suitcase-star