Why the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services Matter for CJ Careers

CJIS Policies Have a Significant Impact on Your Ability to Get Hired

Man working in call center
Thinkstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Perhaps the most significant - if not important - tool to helping law enforcement be effective, efficient and safe is the ability to receive and share critical information quickly between law enforcement agencies across the United States. The Federal Bureau of Investigations' Criminal Justice Information Services Division exists to facilitate, support and protect that sensitive data.

What is the Criminal Justice Information Services Division?

Criminal Justice Information Services is the largest division within the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

It stores and maintains the FBI's vast amount of crime information data and services. 

CJIS is home to some of the most important data sources for law enforcement across the U.S., including the National Crime Information Center - which is a 24-hour crime information clearinghouse that informs police officers of wants, warrants and criminal histories - and the Uniform Crime Reporting, which provides important data to crime analysts and the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

CJIS also houses national fingerprint information and the automated fingerprint identification system, which is used to identify arrestees and to help solve crimes across the U.S.

CJIS collects, stores and shares biometric identification information, background check information and registry and a host of information available to criminal intelligence analysts.

How Does CJIS Impact the Criminal Justice Community?

In many ways, CJIS is the life line of modern policing.

Through CJIS, police departments are able to share information rapidly, officers can perform wanted checks of individuals quickly, and crime analysts can gather and analyze data to identify criminal trends in their communities.

CJIS also allows departments to perform more thorough and accurate background investigations to help ensure the right people are hired and that people with questionable pasts don't get access to sensitive data or law enforcement authority.

CJIS has become an indispensable tool for modern day policing, without which law enforcement would not be able to operate nearly as effectively.

Why Does Criminal Justice Information Services Policy Affect People's Employment?

In order to access CJIS information, the FBI's CJIS Policy Board implements strict policies regarding how the information is shared and who is entitled to access it. Because CJIS is so critical for law enforcement officers and certain support personnel today, people who are not able to meet CJIS access criteria simply can't be employed by police and support agencies.​

Who is Affected by Criminal Justice Information Services Polices?

CJIS policies affect anyone who may access or be exposed to criminal history information and other protected CJIS data. This access may be direct - by a police officer, dispatcher or analyst who requests and receives the information, or indirect - such as a secretary or even a  janitor who may work in an area where CJIS information might be viewed. 

CJIS policies affect IT personnel, support and clerical staff and even maintenance staff. Essentially, anyone who may, as a normal part of their job functions, gain access to CJIS information must pass a background check.

If an individual cannot pass the check, then they cannot have CJIS access, which means by default they cannot remain employed.

What Do You Need to Do to Be CJIS Compliant?

CJIS compliance requires a number of factors for agencies and individuals. For employees, you must not have been convicted of a felony or be the subject of any want or warrant.

If you have any prior arrests or if at any time you get arrested for a misdemeanor, it is up to your employer whether or not you can be granted or retain access. You also need to be screened at least every 5 years, and you must receive security training every 2 years.