Is Being A Police Officer A Good Job
There are clear advantages to working in this profession, but it comes with some of the largest downsides experienced in almost any career. As a police officer, you see some of the worst aspects of society, including domestic violence, ravages of drug abuse, and even murder. Its not just dealing with self-important speeders on the highway, but violent criminals as well. This can make policing extremely stressful, often forcing police officers to need therapy and other forms of emotional support.
But there are real advantages as well. As a police officer, you will experience pride in your job and, on occasion, the community will show its support and appreciation, which can make all the stresses worth the effort. Despite the challenges, youll know that your work makes the community a better place few careers can honestly make this claim.
Police Training: On The Job
Officers need to keep their perishable skills as sharp as possible, so departments often have annual, semiannual or quarterly refresher courses or certifications. Sometimes there might be a specific training mandated by the state, McKenna says. For example, after the Columbine high school shooting, his state mandated active-killer training for all police departments.
But even though many departments would love to give their officers more training time, every minute officers spend in training is a minute spent away from their jobs. If a police department is shorthanded, training time is even harder to come by. We arent special forces, McKenna says. We cant just spend our days training while we wait for a callwe are getting called to help 24/7.
Even with those difficulties, McKenna says departments have to take the time to send their officers to train as much as they can. Lots of officers self-train too. McKenna says many officers will read books, take online tutorials, attend conferences and even attend a class or hire a private instructor to get more training.
Officers might spend time trying to invest more study and work in areas that interest them or in areas where they feel deficient.
How Much Does A Police Officer Make
If you are going to pursue a career in law enforcement, starting with the position of a police officer, you need to be motivated by more than money. To be certain, police officers can earn a strong salary , but finances wont be motivation enough to put on the uniform and patrol the streets every day. That said, its worth looking into the expected salaries of a police officer to understand their earning potential.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2018 the median salary for police officers and detectives was $63,380. Detectives and criminal investigators had the strongest salaries in this category, earning a median over $81,000. Transit and railroad police earned a median of $74,030, while patrol officers earned a median salary of $61,380.
The best salaries appear to come from the federal government, where law enforcement officers enjoyed a median salary over $87,000.
Salary depends largely on location. For sheriffs and patrol officers, the best salaries appear to come from California , Alaska , and New Jersey .
So while it may not be a path to riches, working in law enforcement can bring a strong income.
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Step : Interview With The Academy Manager
After completing the above steps, your chosen academy will contact you to schedule an appointment for an interview with the Academy Manager. This should be considered a formal interview, so please dress accordingly. The Academy Manager will determine the candidates demeanor and suitability to become a certified Peace Officer in the State of Georgia.
Police Officer Academy Training
In developing its professional staff, the United States Capitol Police empowers individuals to reach their full potential, ensuring professional growth and career opportunities within the Department.
Trainees begin their classes and training immediately upon hire, while receiving full pay and are appointed to the rank of Private. Generally, the first week of training will consist of orientation at the Capitol Police Training Academy in Cheltenham, Maryland.
Next, trainees typically will participate in 12 weeks of intensive training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Georgia.
Training covers such areas as:
- Officer Safety and Survival
- Driver Training
- Physical Fitness
After graduating from FLETC, trainees will return to the United States Capitol Police Training Academy in Cheltenham, Maryland, for 13 weeks of specialized training. Graduates from the Academy are appointed to the rank of Private with Training and next are assigned to an experienced training officer in the field to continue their skills development through on-the-job experience.
In addition to the USCP Physical Abilities Test , the physical training while attending the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center and the United States Capitol Police Training Academy will include cardiovascular and muscular conditioning. The primary methods used will be running , weight resistance, and calisthenics. All trainees will be required to fully participate in all physical training activities.
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Other Helpful Skills And Experience
Additional skills, such as physical strength and stamina, can help candidates meet police officer requirements. To keep up with daily job requirements, apprehend suspects, and pass required physical tests for entry into the field, officers and detectives must maintain good physical shape and demonstrate strength. Employers see prior military or security experience as a plus, since these candidates undergo previous physical and firearm training.
Moreover, police officers must possess good written and oral communication skills to effectively give detailed incident reports and speak with the public during fact-gathering. Law enforcement agents may also speak with suspects who communicate in other languages. To help diverse communities, officers should understand many different perspectives and display empathy. Law enforcement agents must also practice good judgment by determining the most effective way to solve problems.
Officers holding higher positions, such as detectives and fish and game wardens, may need critical thinking skills and perception to determine in advance why suspects act in certain ways. Since the public looks to officers for assistance in emergency situations, these professionals become highly visible community members. In their public roles, officers often serve as role models and must possess leadership skills.
Picking The Right Program
Once you know which program level you want to pursue, its time to figure out which one best suits your needs. When researching the schools that make it onto your all-important shortlist, keep the following questions in mind:
- Is the school regionally accredited?
- Can you afford the tuition?
- Does the timeline fit with your future goals?
- Does the program have a high success rate?
- Does the program provide POST exam prep?
Beyond Law Enforcement Careers
No matter how much pride you get from patrolling streets, responding to emergencies, and being a first-contact between the police department and the community, you may eventually want to leave your position and go beyond a police officer career.
So what are your options? When it comes to advancement, police officers should consider positions both vertically and horizontally.
If you are most interested in vertical promotions should first focus on being the best police officer possible. Like any career, attitude makes a difference. While you can train for hundreds of hours a year and have decades of experience on your resume, an attitude focused on the positives of policing will be crucial for your success. Good captains, chiefs, and commissioners need a strong attitude that will rub off on the minds of other officers.
Education still matters. While many ground-level police officers are hired without a college degree, higher-ranking police officers are all but required to have a post-secondary academic education. An associates, or better yet a bachelors degree, is a wise choice for anyone who aspires to work in law enforcement leadership.
There are almost no limits to the potential careers beyond a police officer position. From advancing in your local department to taking your skills to the private sectors, police officers have a variety of skills that can apply almost anywhere!
Bachelors Degree In Law Enforcement
A law enforcement degree at the bachelors level typically takes four years to complete and can include many different topics or subjects. There are prototypical degrees such as criminal justice, criminology and law enforcement studies. But there are other majors that can hold police officers in good stead. For example, graduates with a degree in accounting are excellent candidates for a career in white collar crime investigations, while computer science majors can have an advantage if theyre interested in pursuing a career in computer forensics or cyber crimes.
Those in a bachelors degree program in a law-related field can expect to find courses like these:
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What Subject Areas Do Police Academies Focus On During Training
Among the major topical training areas in the CLETA survey, the most required training hours were in the area of operations . Major topics covered in operations training included patrol procedures , investigations , emergency vehicle operations , and report writing .
An average of 168 hours per recruit were required for training on weapons, defensive tactics, and the use of force. Recruits spent most of this time on firearms and self-defense training. Recruits also spent an average of 21 hours on the use of force, which may have included training on agency policies, de-escalation tactics, and crisis intervention strategies.
Recruits were typically also required to take training classes in self-improvement and legal education . On average, more than half of self-improvement training hours were related to health and fitness . A majority of the legal training focused on criminal and constitutional law and traffic law . Nearly a third of academies required basic foreign language training with an average of 9 hours per recruit.
Police Officer Salary And Job Growth Expectations
Salaries in law enforcement vary significantly. Your salary will depend on whether you work in a rural area or a large city, whether you have seniority or youre fresh out of the academy, and whether you take overtime or leave at the end of your shift.
That said, the median detective and police officer salary nationwide was $63,380 as of May 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics . Those working for the federal government did especially well, earning an average of $87,130. You should also calculate the value of benefits into the compensation package. Police officers typically enjoy paid vacation, sick leave, medical and life insurance, and uniform allowances. Plus, thanks to pensions, they can often afford to retire at a younger age than most.
As for getting into the field, the BLS projects job growth of 5% nationally for police officers from 2018 to 2028, which is on the low side for such a typically stable occupation. However, this outlook depends heavily on city and state budgets, which can fluctuate. The low rate of growth will create stronger opportunities for police officer applicants who hold a bachelors degree in criminal justice or a related field.
The top 10 states for police and sheriff patrol officer earnings in 2018 were:
How Much Can Better Training Do To Improve Policing
Two former police chiefs and a researcher discuss how to improve law-enforcement practices.
Philando Castile was shot by a police officer during a traffic stop. His girlfriend, Lavish Reynolds, broadcast the aftermath of the shooting live on Facebook. The video leaves a trail of questions about the sequence of events, and the actions that led to Castiles death. It also reinforces a broader question: How can police better train and equip officers to serve and protect the public?
In search of some answers, I turned to some people who have deep expertise in these matters. Two of them are former police chiefs, and another is a leading authority on police training in the United States. Ronal Serpas, a former New Orleans police chief, is a professor at Loyola University New Orleans and the chair of Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration, which advocates for the end to widespread incarceration. Tracey Meares, a professor at Yale Law School and a member of the Presidents Task Force on 21st Century Policing, has trained thousands of police officers around the country, including in Chicago and Oakland, via the Trust & Justice initiative. Donald Grady II, a retired police chief with over 30 years in uniform, served in multiple cities.
But for Grady, another police chief, the focus on training serves to distract from broader problems. This is not a training issue, he said.
How To Become A Police Officer In Canada & Disqualifiers To Avoid
Choosing a new career , can be an overwhelming process. Opportunities are endless in a country like Canada. Its not easy figuring out which direction to take in the first place.
Canadian Business helps you narrow down your options with a list of The Top 25 Jobs in Canada. And were here to help you break down #14 on that list: police officer.
Being a police officer comes with great responsibility, authority, and trust. Therefore strict standards are upheld in the selection process to ensure only the right candidates are hired. This process typically includes:
- A written exam
- Have no criminal convictions and no criminal charges pending
In addition to the above list, each police force adds its own list of requirements.
Those applying for the RCMP need to meet the following additional requirements:
- Permanent resident applicants need to have resided in Canada for the last 10 years.
- Be at least 19 years old
- Possess a valid, unrestricted driver’s licence
- Be able to spend 26 weeks at the RCMP Academy in Regina, Saskatchewan
- Be willing to relocate anywhere within Canada
- Not have any tattoos that depict or incite hate, harassment, or discrimination against individuals on the basis of the grounds listed in Canadian Human Rights Act, section 3.
- Not wear any personal effects on the body that may interfere with the personal protective equipment.
The Vancouver Police Department asks that their applicants meet the following additional requirements:
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Preparing For A Police Officer Career: Find The Right Environment
When an aspiring police officer chooses to go to school to obtain formal education, a world of possibilities opens up. Here are some of the potential places where the certificate or degree can be earned.
Some vocational or trade schools have certificate programs that may count towards college credit, such as for a future associate or bachelors degree. Some might offer associate degrees. Vocational or trade schools can provide a way to save money on college costs while receiving necessary college course instruction.
Military experience is well regarded by law enforcement agencies and police departments. Familiarity with firearms, mental toughness, physical conditioning, discipline and an understanding of command structure and culture are all benefits that come with hiring a recruit with military experience.
Community colleges provide multiple options for students who want to become police officers. Students can complete their associate degree in two years or a certificate in a few months. As an added bonus, many community colleges allow credits earned in a certificate program to go towards an associate degree.
Law Enforcement School
Departments that require a bachelors degree are often found at the federal level. However, even if a four-year degree isnt required, getting a bachelors degree can be a prudent decision: it can increase the chances of getting hired and promoted.
Get Accepted & Paying Your Way
Admission requirements can vary widely depending on the type of program and institution offering it. Another consideration is how to pay for this education and training. During your application process, keep the following pointers in the back of your mind to help you get into the best program to meet your needs and goals as a future police officer.
Entry into various degree programs in law enforcement will all require some general points, such as completing an application, paying an application fee and presenting proof of high school graduation.
The associate degree program might require:
- A personal statement
- Transcripts from any other college courses taken
The bachelors degree might require additional information:
- An essay
- Transcripts from associate degree work
- Completion of certain prerequisites
- A resume of related experience
Application process & fees
Paying for Your Program
How much a training or educational program costs depends greatly upon the degree level you want to obtain. For instance, obtaining an associate degree will cost much less than a bachelors degree will. To learn more about financial aid options and how those will affect your financial bottom line, visit our online financial aid handbook:
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What Are The National Trends Regarding Mental Health And De
Across the country interest in law enforcement response to people with mental illness is growing, in part because of increased calls for service, high-profile tragic events, and the effectiveness of PMHC programs. Interest in PMHC programs and training for law enforcement officers is becoming a national priority.
In 2015, the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing was convened to examine was created to strengthen community policing and trust among law enforcement officers and the communities they serve. The Task Force’s final report issued several recommendations and action items pertaining to responding to people with mental illness, including the following:
Pillar 5: Training and Education
5.6 Recommendation: POSTs should make Crisis Intervention Training a part of both basic recruit and in-service officer training.
While the decision about the number of hours and curricula to use was left to each state, never before has a Presidential report called for the institution of a specific training program to enhance officers’ preparedness for responding to people with mental illness.
In 2016, the Police Executive Research Forum issued the report, “Guiding Principles on Use of Force,” which includes 30 guiding principles on use of force that recommend the implementation of de-escalation training, CIT training, training for call-takers and dispatchers, and the use of scenario training to prepare officers for situations they are likely to encounter.