Efforts to reduce crime, decrease gang activity and diminish the drug trade are always in full swing in Baltimore, making a career in criminal justice particularly appealing to those who don’t mind a challenge. However, protecting the public requires more than just an understanding of how or why a crime takes place. Identifying crime prevention tactics is an equally critical component that can only be determined through careful research and analysis.

(Photo Courtesy of Debra Gonzalez)

(Photo Courtesy of Debra Gonzalez)

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The Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS), one of the largest agencies in Maryland’s state government, has almost 12,000 employees working to protect residents while simultaneously maintaining all aspects of supervision for sentenced offenders and arrestees, including those individuals under parole and probation. The department is additionally responsible for Baltimore City pretrial facilities, which total 27 institutions and 45 community supervision offices.

All of this responsibility means never a dull moment for Debra Gonzalez, who is intelligence unit chief at DPSCS. In this role, she manages, directs and coordinates all department activities as well as oversees the Contraband Cellular Telephone (CCT) Lab. Further, she supervises the development and training of all of the Intelligence Unit and CCT Lab staff. Looking back on how she reached this respected position, Ms. Gonzalez recalls that it all started with a B.A.S. degree in Criminal Justice from University of Maryland, Baltimore.

How has education prepared you for your job?

“My education provided me with a broader knowledge of the field of criminal justice. It also enhanced my communication skills, which is a very important skill in my profession.”

Could you have reached your present position without your education endeavors?

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“No, I began my career as a parole and probation agent, which requires a bachelor’s degree.”

How do you keep your skills up to date?

“I seek every opportunity to attend training in a variety of topics. I also seek out opportunities to get certified in various skills related to my field.”

What advice would you share with someone interested in your career field?

“Research! Be sure that you talk with people currently working in the field that you are interested in. Then, completing an internship will further assist you in determining if a career in criminal justice is right for you.”

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Keri Ann Beazell is a Baltimore writer following the latest developments in arts and culture, natural wonders, lifestyle and pets. She enjoys promoting thought-provoking discussions, education, new ideas and smiles among readers. Follow her online at beazellblog.com and Examiner.com.