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Introduction to Law Enforcement DSST
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Free Introduction to Law Enforcement DSST Study Guide

Name of Exam: Introduction to Law Enforcement DSST

Number of Questions: Around 98 (varies)

Time Limit: 120 Minutes

ACE Recommended Passing Score: 45

Cost: $80 + Sitting Fee (Usually no more than $20) at your testing site. Military can take DSSTs for free with Tuition Assistance. Check with your Educational Officer!

Difficulty 1-5 : 3
(One being the easiest, and five being the hardest)

Exam Description:

The Introduction to Law Enforcement DSST covers what a student would learn in a similar one semester course in college. You'll be expected to know the demographics of most modern day police forces, as well as the history of those law enforcement bodies. You'll also be asked questions covering the US Criminal Justice system, to include Constitutional law and court cases shaping the modern Law Enforcement arena.

Personal Thoughts:

This DSST covers much of the same information you'll see on the Criminal Justice DSST. For that reason, it would make sense to take these as closely together as you can manage. I'd even go so far as to suggest you take them on the same day. Once you've got the material down for one, chances are good that you'll be able to pass the other one as well.

As with the Criminal Justice DSST; those with a Law Enforcement background would do well to take this exam, but anyone can pull off a successful pass with a bit of dedicated study. The Introduction to Law Enforcement DSST does stress the Court Cases as well as the Constitutional Amendments. I'd pay particular attention to those while studying.

I'd read through the entire Criminal Justice Cliffs Notes, at least once just to familiarize yourself with much of the subject matter. Though it's mostly for the Criminal Justice DSST, there is plenty of Law Enforcement material covered as well. It will also make studying the below a little easier to grasp.

Exam breakdown:

Make sure you check out the Official DSST Fact Sheet for this exam.

The Introduction to Law Enforcement DSST is broken down as follows:

35% Police Organization, Management, and Issues
20% Police Systems in the United States
20% Overview of the United States Criminal Justice System
13% United States Law and Precedents
12% History and Professional Movement of Law Enforcement

Areas of Study

I'm going to list some specific topics that you'll need to study. I would also get a copy of Snazzlefrag's awesome downloadable Introduction to Law Enforcement study notes. After that, I'll list some resources that covers the main areas listed above.

Alright, here we go. Though there are different versions of the Introduction to Law Enforcement DSST, you'll most likely see some of the following on your exam:

  • Vollmer
  • "Founders" of the system
  • Women in policing
  • status offenses
  • Miranda v Arizona
  • Internal Affairs
  • UCR
  • Inmate vs Guard Ratio in most prisons?
  • NCVS
  • Appeals Courts
  • Secret Service
  • Due Process
  • The Amendments that deal with Law Enforcement
  • CIA
  • Wilson
  • State Police
  • Police Dept History
  • Types of Prisons
  • Exclusionary Rule
  • Police Deviance

This is not a comprehensive list of topics! I highly recommend (as always) signing up for InstantCert and running through their entire flashcard series as well as seeing the Specific Feedback section for this exam. They've had years to accumulate their information, and it shows.

Police Organization, Management, and Issues
(35% of the Introduction to Law Enforcement DSST)

Police - A lot of good information in this article. Though not all will apply, I'd still read the entire thing.

Department of Labor - Full of good general knowledge. Read through it at least once if Law Enforcement is a new subject for you.

Abilene Police Divisions - Granted, this is just one example, but they've done a good job of outlining each division's responsibilities. Scroll down to see them all and click on each one to expand the descriptions.

Community Era - Look on the bottom of page 34 and read up on that short section. You'll be covering this area again when it comes to the History portion of the Introduction to Law Enforcement DSST.

Police Functions - Read this section, along with the "Police Powers & Citizen's Rights" and "Police Problems" sections. Pay special attention to the areas of Citizen's Rights, Police Corruption, and Employment Discrimination.

Criminal Justice System
(20% of the Introduction to Law Enforcement DSST)

What is the Criminal Justice System? - You've already read the entire Cliffs Notes for Criminal Justice right? If not.. Get started! Read it all!

Criminal Justice on Wikipedia - Actually a good read here too. Pay attention to the histories of the modern police, as well as the section on the Courts and Corrections.

Due Process - The Cliff's Notes covers Due Process, but this article goes into more depth over common law and due process in the US..

Magna Carta - Included because it's what most of our common law and Constitution was based on, and because it's a very interesting article.

Different types of US Courts: - Have a good understanding of what each court's jurisdiction is, as well as the type of cases it is responsible for.

Federal vs State Courts - A good comparison chart for the differences between the two.

Juvenile Courts - Included only for completeness. It's listed on the fact sheet for the Introduction to Law Enforcement DSST, so it's here as well. I'd know the ages at which the minor can be tried as an adult in most states..

Latin in the Legal System - A good list of Latin terms used in today's courts.

Capitol Punishment - I'd know the moral arguments for and against, as well as it's historical uses.

Prisons from Wikipedia - All kinds of good information here. Most of which you've already seen in Cliffs Notes, but it does go into more detail in some areas.

Police Systems in the United States
(20% of the Introduction to Law Enforcement DSST)

Federal Police Systems - Know what department each falls under, as well as their overall responsibilities and jurisdictions.

State Police

Sheriff's Office

Neighborhood Watch

Roles of Police - Head all the way down to page 118.

United States Law and Precedents
(13% of the Introduction to Law Enforcement DSST)

Amendments to the Constitution - Know the Amendments that relate to Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement, such as Search and Seizure (4th), Trial and Punishment (5th), Trial by Jury (7th), Cruel and Unusual Punishment (8th) etc.. Be able to match them up if asked "Which Amendment protects your right to a speedy trial?"

Historic Cases of the US Supreme Court - You may or may not get asked about specific court cases on the Introduction to Law Enforcement DSST. Here's a list of some of the more famous Supreme Court cases. Check the InstantCert Specific Feedback thread for more specific cases that have come up.

History and Professional Movement of
Law Enforcement
(12% of the Introduction to Law Enforcement DSST)

The History of Law Enforcement - Google books = awesome. Start on page 6 and just keep reading until about page 40. Know this information! Pay special attention to Vollmer and Wilson as noted above, but know all of the major historical events in Law Enforcement.

The Nature of Police Work - Oh look, Cliffs Notes has an entire section on Police too! Of course you already knew that, having read the entire thing like I recommended earlier.

Recommended bargain-priced study resources

Always check your library first! You may be able to find some of these for free. You don't have to buy the officially recommended resources all the time. If you're the type of person that prefers to study from a textbook source however, then please see below.

DSST The Official Test Preparation Guide - Contains over a half dozen practice exams for various DSST's, including Introduction to Law Enforcement.

As of this writing, you can actually get this one for free. Follow the "Practice Clep Test" link at the top of this page and then follow the directions. Instead of clicking on the "CLEP prep" link, click on the "DSST prep" and look for the DSST handbook download. You'll have to register as always, but it's free. Putting this here only for those who enjoy having a physical book in hand.

Introduction to Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice - This is the full textbook that I referenced earlier from Google Books. I'd check around and see if I could find a cheaper version, but this book appears to nail everything that the Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice DSST exams cover. If you're looking for a textbook, I'd recommend this one.

InstantCert Academy Introduction to Law Enforcement Specific Exam Feedback - Tons of good information on the exam here. Be sure to check out the Intro to Law Enforcement Flashcards as well as the Criminal Justice Flashcards . Know them both and you'll cover much of the information on the Introduction to Law Enforcement DSST.

If you don't know what InstantCert is, then click here for the scoop as well as a discount code: **InstantCert Academy**

You'll find an InstantCert link for every exam here if that gives you an idea of the amount of information they have available. It's an outstanding resource.

Closing Thoughts

Remember what I said about the Criminal Justice DSST taken in conjunction with this exam. I'd highly recommend doing so if you are able. You'll basically be picking up another three credits without any additional study if you follow the suggested study path.

Start off with the above resources, and then go through the flashcards for both Introduction to Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice at InstantCert. With that study regimen, the Introduction to Law Enforcement DSST shouldn't give you too much of a problem.

Best of luck!

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