When crime rates began to increase in the 1960s and 1970s, the federal government responded by increasing education and licensure of law enforcement personnel. The Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) provided funding for enhancement officer training and education. In the early 1970s, Arthur Neiger, director of the Bureau of School and Community College Services, received an LEAA grant to conduct a two-week training academy for working police officers. Eventually, the Northern faculty took the training program across the region as a 16-week Regional Training Academy. 

In 1962, Neiger developed an associate degree program in law enforcement, as well as a two-year police science curriculum. When administrators in corrections, security and conservation caught on to the trend, a curriculum was created in these aspects of criminal justice, and two and four-year degrees were offered in law enforcement or corrections/private security. The Michigan Board of Education approved the four-year criminal justice program in the fall of 1974. 

By the spring of 1977, Criminal Justice was named a department in the then School of Arts and Sciences. Later it was attached to the College of Behavioral Sciences, Human Services, and Education. In 1992, the department was renamed Justice Studies, only to return to its original name in 1995. 

Northern was at one time the headquarters for the American Association of Correctional Officers who published a quarterly newsletter, The Keepers Voice. 

NMU also used to annually host the American Legion summer cadet officer program, a police academy simulation for U.P. high school students interested in law enforcement careers.

Today, NMU continues to offer each summer the Regional Training Academy and throughout the year the Police Institute Training, for current police officers and police administrators.

In fall 2007, Northern began to offer a Bachelor in Loss Prevention Management degree, a completely online program. It is the first loss prevention bachelor’s degree in the United States and was developed, in part, by an advisory board made up of some of the largest retailers in the nation.

Department chairs or heads: Ken Fauth, 1977-1981; Richard Johnson, 1981, one month; Robert Barrington, 1981-1987; Donald Lee, (acting) 1987-1989, 1989-1991; David Kalinich, 1992-1997; Paul Lang, 1997- 2006, Greg Warchol, (acting) 2006-2007, Dale Kapla, 2007-2012; Charles Mesloh, 2013-present

Source: A Sense of Time: The Encyclopedia of Northern Michigan University

View the Criminal Justice Department's mission