Come on folks, why major in criminal justice when you can major in history?
Brad Hart, a faithful reader of this blog and a police officer in Colorado, has responded to my request for history majors to speak up and tell us their stories about how they are making their history training work for them. For those of you who spend a lot of time in the blogosphere, you may know Brad as the creator of the wildly popular website on religion and the American founding, American Creation. Here are his comments:
I received my B.A. in history from Mesa State College (in Grand Junction, Co.) and my M.A. in history from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. And while I am currently trying to find some kind of an adjunct position which will allow me to teach at least some history, my main career is quite different.
I am currently employed as a police officer in the Colorado Springs area. And while at first glance one would think that a history degree would prove almost worthless in such a profession, I would remind you that law enforcement is not at all like it appears on “Law & Order” and “CSI Miami.” The majority of an officer’s job consists of documenting, recording and preparing different cases, documents and reports, many of which end up in court. And it has been my observation that many police officers have very poor writing/documenting skills. My history experience has helped tremendously in this aspect of my job. Being able to analyze a given situation from various perspectives, while effectively sifting through the relevant and irrelevant “primary source” material (i.e. witness statements, etc.) is of paramount importance to any law enforcement officer.
In addition, my degree in history has opened my eyes to different cultures, perspectives and ideas. And since police officers are required to work with a very diverse population on a daily basis, being able to effectively relate and understand those of different cultures, races, religions, etc. is extremely important.
And while I still hope to one day work full time in a field that is related to my degree, I am still amazed at how much my history degree helps me on a daily basis. Of course it’s a rare occasion when I need to be able to recall the events that led to the American Revolution or how Martin Luther and the other reformers of the Protestant Reformation influenced religious history, but that doesn’t mean that my degree has been worthless. Quite the contrary!
Wow! It sounds like we need a lot more law enforcement agents with history degrees. Thanks Brad!
Addendum: In the comment section of this post Brad Hart informs us that the DEA, FBI, CIA and other federal law enforcement agencies actually prefer individuals with history degrees (most serve as analysts and even agents). Very interesting.