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How To Research A Police Officer

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How To Become A Police Officer: Your Step

How is the prospect of police reform impacting police departments?

By on 02/10/2020

There are plenty of Hollywood movies out there that detail the rigorous physical training involved in becoming a cop. You might even be able to picture the obstacle courses, shooting ranges and tactical scenario training rooms. These are all important elements of police officer trainingbut they only make up one portion of the process.

Given the high level of responsibility and trust afforded to law enforcement, the standards for becoming a police officer are higher than what youll likely find in many careers. The specific standards and process will vary slightly based on the state, county or town youre applying to work in, but there are a few universal requirements to become a police officer you should be familiar with.

If youre wondering how to become a police officer, youre in the right place. Keep reading for a high-level breakdown of the path to pursuing a career in law enforcement.

Just A Quarter Of The Public Says Spending On Police Should Be Decreased

About four-in-ten Americans say spending on policing in their area should stay about the same, while 31% say it should be increased and 25% say it should be decreased.

Support for decreasing spending on policing is higher among younger adults, Black adults, and Democrats and Democratic leaners, though even in these groups fewer than half say spending should be decreased.

Adults under 30 are much more likely than others to say that police spending should be decreased: 45% of those ages 18 to 29 say this, while 28% of those 30 to 49 and only 15% of those 50 and older say the same. Those over the age of 50 are more likely than younger Americans to say spending should be increased .

About four-in-ten Black adults say spending on police in their area should decrease, including 22% who say spending should be decreased a lot. One-third of Black adults say spending should stay the same, while 22% say it should be increased.

In contrast, about two-in-ten white adults and a similar share of Hispanic adults say police spending in their area should be decreased, while larger shares in both groups say spending should be increased.

Among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, 41% say spending on the police should be decreased, while just 8% of Republicans say the same. By comparison, 45% of Republicans and just 19% of Democrats that spending on the police should be increased .

Among Democrats there are sizable age and ideological differences on this question.

What To Include In A Police Officer Recommendation Letter

The primary goal of police officer recommendation letters is to attract the attention of hiring police chiefs, so it’s important to highlight the best features of the individual you are writing about. Here are some specific elements you may include:

  • Introduction to the individual you are writing about and their professional background

  • The relationship you have or have had with them

  • How long you have known them

  • Any relevant work experiences between you and the individual

  • Skill sets or capabilities they have

  • Qualities or characteristics you have observed

  • Any working relationships of theirs that you have observed

  • Summary of why you believe they would be a good hire


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Whats Available Online Sample Incident Logs

Some police departments put their incident or report logs online.

Here are some examples:

To see San Francisco Bay Area traffic incidents, click on the Communication Centers drop-down menu at the top left and select Golden Gate. To decipher abbreviations used in the incident logs, in the drop-down menu under Resources in the upper right select Glossary.

Berkeley Police Department

Posted daily in pdf format.

Posted daily in pdf format.

Palo Alto Police Department

Posted daily in pdf format.

Davis Police Department

Combines log of arrests and incident log.

Wide Racial Partisan Gaps In Views Of Police Performance

Why publically bringing a group complaint against two Vancouver police ...

Americans are divided along partisan and racial lines in their evaluations of police. Across four measures of police performance, white adults are consistently more positive about the performance of police around the country than Black adults, and Republicans are much more positive than Democrats. While the partisan divide in positive evaluations of the police on most of these dimensions is nearly as wide among whites as it is overall, Black Democrats are more likely than their white counterparts to say that the police perform poorly.

Overall, a majority of Americans say that police around the country are doing an excellent or good job of protecting people from crimes a view held by 78% of Republicans and Republican leaners but 43% of Democrats and Democratic leaners. Two-thirds of white adults say the police are doing a good or excellent job of protecting people, while just 28% of Black adults say the same. Half of Hispanic adults say police do an excellent or good job of protecting people.

There are racial and ethnic divides among Democrats in these views: While just 27% of Black Democrats say police do an excellent or good job protecting people from crime , about half of white Democrats and 42% of Hispanic Democrats say the same.

Hispanic Democrats are more positive in their evaluations of police performance in these domains than both white and Black Democrats still, majorities rate police performance in these areas as only fair or poor.

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Center For Justice Research And Innovation

The Center for Justice Research and Innovation transforms research into real-world programs and strategies for hundreds of justice systems across the country. We specialize in: Research Training, Technical Assistance, Critical Incident Reviews, Operational, Technological and Management Solutions.

For Law Enforcement Only

In addition to the annual Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted report and OSAT, the LEOKA Data Collection has additional resources available for law enforcement via a Special Interest Group that can be accessed through the FBIs Law Enforcement Enterprise Portal , including:

  • A training calendar
  • Three major case studies:
  • Killed in the Line of Duty – A study of selected felonious killings of law enforcement officers examining offender motives in an attempt to answer why these attacks occur.
  • In the Line of Fire – A study of felonious assaults on law enforcement officers which examines both the offender motives and officer perceptions of the assault to improve officer safety.
  • Violent Encounters – A culmination of the two previous studies focused on felonious assaults and killings of law enforcement critically examining officer perceptions, offender motives, and the circumstances that brought them together.
  • A series of articles on safety issues
  • Additional statistics
  • A video on speed control in vehicle pursuits
  • LEOKA forms
  • If you work for a law enforcement, criminal justice, or public safety agency, you can obtain a LEEP account. For additional information, e-mail or call 1-888-334-4536. More on LEEP.

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    The Hours Are Irregular And Long

    The bad guys don’t call it a day at 5 p.m., so neither can the cops. Police departments are responsible for patrol 24 hours a day, and that means officers need to be staffed at all hours.

    You may work permanent shifts or rotating shifts, but no matter how you slice it, shift work can be hard on your social life and your family life.

    On top of the late nights or early mornings, you’ll have to give up a lot of weekends and holidays, so when the rest of your buddies are enjoying that Memorial Day barbecue, you’ll probably be on patrol.

    Knowledge & Research Gaps

    Former San Diego police officer sentenced to 1-year work release program in stalking case

    4.1 Research Gap â Quality of Investigations

    There appears to be virtually no case studies of actual investigations of various kinds of PIP, or other related, processes that would allow detailed analysis leading to the establishment of good practice and to assist in discerning bad practice. Furthermore, there is a lack of detailed empirical data and information on PIP and its variations of either a qualitative or quantitative nature. This means that it is difficult to say with any certainty whether one model is more effective than another and why that is the case.

    Research Suggestion âPIP Case Studies

    Research that can document in detail the investigative dynamics and strategies used in the various factors that affect investigative outcomes would allow for an assessment of the relative merits of different models and some systematic comparative analysis. This would be helpful in providing some empirical basis or evidence about the efficacy of one or another of the PIP models or structures.

    4.2 Research Gap â Unclear Investigative Skills

    Though civilian investigators or investigations are argued by some to be a more desirable substitute for PIP approaches, there is currently no available evidence or research to either support this assertion or clarify the necessary investigative skills required for this function. Reliance on civilian investigations should be based on evidence that this is a valid hypothesis.

    4.3 Research Gap â Uncertain Impact of Police Culture

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    Learn About Becoming A Police Officer

    The Balance

    Law enforcement careers can be exciting, rewarding, and even fun. In fact, there are countless reasons to be a police officer. From fringe benefits to job security, the attraction to policing is easy to understand. Before you take the leap and pursue a career fighting crime, though, there are some things you probably ought to know about becoming a police officer.

    Work Environment About This Section

    Police and detectives held about 795,000 jobs in 2020. Employment in the detailed occupations that make up police and detectives was distributed as follows:

    Police and sheriffs patrol officers 671,200
    Federal government 8

    Police and detective work can be physically demanding, stressful, and dangerous. Officers must be alert and ready to react throughout their entire shift. Officers regularly work at crime and accident scenes and encounter suffering and the results of violence. Although a career in law enforcement may be stressful, many officers find it rewarding to help members of their communities.

    Some federal agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Secret Service, require extensive travel, often on short notice. These agents may relocate a number of times over the course of their careers. Other agencies, such as U.S. Border Patrol, may require work outdoors in rugged terrain and in all kinds of weather.

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    Police Reports May Not Be Released

    As naïve researchers we expected police reports to be public records that are accessible under state laws such as Public Records Law , Sunshine Law in Florida , Right-to-Know Law in Pennsylvania , similar to the Freedom of Information Act which allows the public to seek records from any federal organization. In many cases, however, after contacting police departments, we did not get the reports we asked for. Out of 320 police reports requested so far, we have received only 95 . In some instances, a police department did not return communication requests at all.

    One reasonand understandably sois that a specific case is still pending in court. Therefore, the information cannot be simply shared.

    Your request must be respectfully denied. The records that you requested are exempt from disclosure because they are related to a criminal investigation. Section 708 of the RTKL exempts from disclosure a record of an agency relating to or resulting in a criminal investigation, including Investigative materials, notes, correspondence, videos and reports.

    Another reason is that each state has its own laws about sharing police reports. Here are some examples of denials we received from police departments in different states:

    I must deny access to these records on the basis of Public Officers Law Section 87 as such information, if disclosed, would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Clear Your Medical Exam


    In addition to a physical abilities assessment, you probably will be examined by a doctor to make sure you are physically fit and healthy enough to do the job. Unlike the fitness assessment, the medical assessment makes certain your body, heart, and lungs are up for the task.

    A separate eye exam to check for depth perception, color blindness, and overall vision is also common. Generally, it is expected that your eyesight is correctable to 20/30 or better, and no worse than 20/40 uncorrected.

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    How Long Does It Take To Become A Police Officer

    In the US, the level of training required to become a police officer can vary from state to state and from agency to agency. Most law enforcement departments have their own academy, which recruits are required to attend for a period of 12 to 24 weeks before going out into the field. This includes classroom instruction in state laws, local ordinances, constitutional law, civil rights, firearms, first aid, emergency response, traffic control, self-defence, report writing, and accident investigation.

    Once individuals graduate from the academy, they are paired with a more experienced partner where they slowly learn how to handle calls. There is typically a book where the coach checks off different types of calls that a street officer will handle. At the end of each day, the coach summarizes the new officer’s work, good or bad, in a Daily Observation Report or DOR. This book is checked monthly and signed off on by the lieutenant and captain. This practical training can last four to five months, but can be shortened if the rookie does exceptionally well. It can also be lengthened.

    After the book is complete, and all has gone well, the new officer is released and assigned to a squad. Even then, it is impossible to know how to handle every situation. It takes awhile before new officers become good, knowledgeable and experienced officers.

    Welcome To The Rand Center For Quality Policing

    The RAND Center for Quality Policing provides research and analysis to improve the practices, policies, and technologies used in policing. Our findings are of interest to police at all levels, law enforcement technology developers, law enforcement policymakers and funders, and the general public. CQP is part of the Justice Policy Program within RAND Social and Economic Well-Being.

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    How To Become A Police Officer

    This article was co-authored by Saul Jaeger, MS. Saul Jaeger is a Police Officer and Captain of the Mountain View, California Police Department . Saul has over 17 years of experience as a patrol officer, field training officer, traffic officer, detective, hostage negotiator, and as the traffic units sergeant and Public Information Officer for the MVPD. At the MVPD, in addition to commanding the Field Operations Division, Saul has also led the Communications Center and the Crisis Negotiation Team. He earned an MS in Emergency Services Management from the California State University, Long Beach in 2008 and a BS in Administration of Justice from the University of Phoenix in 2006. He also earned a Corporate Innovation LEAD Certificate from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business in 2018.There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 23 testimonials and 96% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 1,332,698 times.

    What Is The Workplace Of A Police Officer Like

    Police Officers Calling It Quits, Retiring Early at Alarming Rate

    Police officers rarely work a regular, 40-hour week. Officers work late at night, on the weekends, and even on holidays. Most police officers work outdoors while on patrol, and are subjected to all types of weather conditions. Police work is also mentally gruelling. Officers often witness terrible crimes or become the focus of a criminal’s rage and abuse. Police officers must handle the stress brought on by these situations while remaining calm and collected.

    Working as a police officer can bring on a range of emotions. It can leave you feeling satisfied, sad, rewarded, disgruntled, lonely and fulfilled, all within the same shift. A police officer needs to be a warrior, an information booth, a social worker, a guardian angel, a marriage counselor, and an arbitrator . The mental challenges are far more rigorous than all of the physical challenges put together.

    Police officers carry the power of life and death on their hips, and are empowered to do things that, were they done by civilians, would get those civilians arrested. They can control traffic, take and imprison people against their will, and seize property. However, they are constantly reminded of the constraints that they must work under in order to exercise that power lawfully and fairly.

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    The Work Can Influence Bad Habits And Health Problems

    Researchers out of The University of Buffalo have drawn a strong correlation between police work and poor health, and it has a lot to do with the bad habits officers often develop. Because of the odd hours and the necessity to eat quickly and on the fly, lots of officers turn to fast food to fuel them through their shift.

    On top of the less than stellar food choices, officers develop bad sleeping habits and suffer the effects of such a high-stress job. All of this can lead to dangerous health problems if you don’t take steps to combat the issue.

    Little Public Support For Cuts In Spending On Local Policing

    Pew Research Center conducted this study to understand how Americans are viewing proposals aimed at addressing policing in the aftermath of the widely covered deaths of several Black people in police custody, as well as widespread protests against racism and excessive use of force by police. For this analysis, we surveyed 4,708 U.S. adults in June 2020. Everyone who took part is a member of Pew Research Centers American Trends Panel , an online survey panel that is recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses. This way nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories. Read more about the ATPs methodology.

    Here are the questions used for the report, along with responses, and its methodology.

    With legislation to address racism and the use of excessive force by law enforcement stalled in Congress, there is broad public support in the United States for permitting citizens to sue police officers in order to hold them accountable for misconduct or using excessive force.

    The legal doctrine of qualified immunity generally protects officers from being held personally liable in lawsuits unless they commit clear violations of law. A proposal to limit qualified immunity has emerged as a stumbling block in the congressional debate over policing.

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