With the growth of social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube, many modern-day criminals have found an outlet to talk about crimes they’re planning or to boast about their latest illegal activities. They brazenly post photos and videos to show off their weapons and contraband.

This rapid technological growth presents new opportunities for police and law enforcement professionals to monitor and track criminal behavior—and potentially advance their careers.

Cincinnati Police Pioneer Use of Social Media for Fighting Crime

The Cincinnati Police Department’s social media crime-fighting efforts began small with a few officers checking online profiles in their downtime. Then members of the police department received social media training to enhance their skills and effectiveness.

By 2008, Cincinnati police had arrested 71 people following a 9-month investigation that used social media to identify key members of a local gang. By 2012, police investigators were monitoring more than 30 websites a day for gang-related activity.*

Highlights of IACP Social Media Survey

In 2014, the Center for Social Media at the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) published its 2013 annual Social Media Survey of how 1,221 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies use social media to track and monitor criminal behavior.

Survey findings revealed:

  • The most frequently used social media platforms are Facebook (92.1%), Twitter (64.8%), and YouTube (42.9%).
  • 57.1% of agencies not currently using social media are considering its adoption.
  • 69.4% of agencies surveyed have a social media policy and an additional 14.3% are in the process of crafting a policy.
  • 80.4% of agencies report that social media has helped solve crimes in their jurisdiction.
  • 73.1% of agencies state that social media has improved police-community relations in their jurisdiction.
  • Only 10% of law enforcement officials surveyed had received formal training on how to use social media for investigations.

The 2013 IACP survey observed tremendous growth in the use of social media since the previous year’s survey. Once again, the most common use of social media was for criminal investigations.

The Value of an MS in Criminal Justice Degree Online

As police departments and law enforcement agencies increase their budgets to provide the manpower and technology to fight cyber crimes effectively, graduates of an online master’s in criminal justice program will have a competitive edge for positions of authority in the criminal justice system.

Job Opportunities for Graduates of MS in Criminal Justice Programs Online

A master’s in criminal justice degree online can open many doors for early- to mid-career professionals who aspire to advance their careers in diverse areas of the criminal justice system:

  • Investigating cyber crimes – Even though more police departments and law enforcement agencies are using social media as a criminal investigation tool, there continues to be a lack of social media skills training among those who are trying to monitor criminal activity online. A master’s in criminal justice program can provide an overview of various cyber crimes and investigative techniques.
  • Other career opportunities are available in the courts, the corrections and probation system, and federal law enforcement agencies, such as:
    • U.S. Marshals Service
    • Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
    • Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)
    • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
    • Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

Other rewarding positions can be found as a forensic scientist, forensic psychologist, criminologist, crime scene investigator, and private investigator.

Walden University’s Online Master’s in Criminal Justice Program

At Walden University, you can customize your online master’s in criminal justice program by focusing on one of eight optional specializations: Emergency Management; Global Leadership; Homeland Security Policy and Coordination; Law and Public Policy; Policy Analysis; Public Management and Leadership; Self-Designed; and Terrorism, Mediation, and Peace.

All specializations include the core course Technological Solutions and 21st-Century Crime. In this course, you’ll explore the relationship between technology and criminal activity, acquiring skills that can help you:

  • Gain a comprehensive view of cyber crime and current trends.
  • Learn how law enforcement agencies use technology to track and apprehend criminals.
  • Analyze real-world scenarios, examine legal responses to cyber crime, and learn different approaches and techniques for solving cyber crimes and handling related challenges.
  • Understand how to build cases and prosecute crimes through practical exercises in identification, data mining, and the protection and gathering of evidence.

A master’s in criminal justice leadership and management is the best option for mid- to late-career professionals who work closely with policymakers and decision-makers.

Walden University, an accredited institution, has been serving the higher education needs of adult learners for 45 years.

Explore Walden University's online master’s degree in criminal justice and master’s in criminal justice leadership and management. Earn your degree at a pace that fits your life and schedule.


*Heather, Kelly (2012, August 30). Police Embrace Social Media as Crime-Fighting Tool. CNN U.S. Edition. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/30/tech/social-media/fighting-crime-social-media/index.html

†IACP 2013 Social Media Survey Results. (2013, October 18). IACP Center for Social Media. Retrieved from http://blog.iacpsocialmedia.org/Home/tabid/142/entryid/312/Default.aspx

Career options may require additional experience, training, or other factors beyond the successful completion of this degree program.

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