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You and a Career as a Police Officer

published July 30, 2013

By Author - LawCrossing

( 5 votes, average: 4 out of 5)

What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.
If you are seriously considering a career as a police officer, it's very important to avoid situations that may affect your chances for a career in law enforcement. Here is a list that will help you avoid saying, "If I had only known."
  1. Don't do drugs.

  2. Don't abuse alcohol.

  3. Avoid getting too many traffic tickets or having your driver's license suspended. Carry the proper insurance.

  4. Get physically fit. Police work is strenuous.

  5. Handle your money responsibly. Be sure to pay your bills.

  6. Be honest in all your dealings with others. Don't lie or cheat.

  7. Become a skilled writer. Learn grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

  8. Create a solid job history. Avoid being fired.

  9. Avoid committing misdemeanors.

  10. Lead a life that will look good under the scrutiny of an in-depth background check.
Douglas Midigon

Douglas has been a military policeman and a hospital security supervisor. He now is a deputy at a suburban high school.

What first attracted you to a career in law enforcement?

When I was in fifth grade, I wanted to follow in my brother's footsteps and become a military policeman.

Describe your current job.

From 7:00 A.M. until 4:00 P.M. Monday through Friday, I work as a deputy at a high school. My job is primarily proactive police work. I am supposed to be visible and deter crime. I spend most of my time patrolling the school grounds.

What is the biggest downside to your job?

It is seeing children waste their lives away. They think they know everything, and at 31,1 realize I hardly know anything. It's unpleasant to keep seeing the same people over and over again who have repeatedly said they wouldn't get into trouble again.

Did you need any special schooling or training?

I attended the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy. However, experience is what best helps you do police work.

What special skills do you need to be a good police officer?

I think the most important skill in police work is being able to communicate. At least 90 percent of the job is communication, whether you are dealing with dispatchers, the public, court, or written reports. It all boils down to words and how effectively you use them.

What advice would you give young people starting out in law enforcement?

Take your career seriously! It's a job that fits a certain personality. Not everyone is capable of doing this job. Because of the nature of this job, it's very important to always look at the positive side of things.

If you could start over, would you choose a different career?

No, police work is what I do best. This job is always interesting as you never know what will happen next.

A Career in Law Enforcement

A career in law enforcement is both challenging and exciting. You have to be quick on your feet and have a quick wit as you must be able to answer questions and make decisions in the blink of an eye. You mainly deal with the negative aspects of society. Some cases will make you angry, and some will make you cry. It can make you question your mindset, or think you're losing your mind. It's not a job for the fainthearted, because you see death. You have to be objective, and you have to keep things in perspective.

You will be sued. You will have to fight. People will call you names. But it's not you they don't like, it's the uniform and what you represent. Just when you think you've seen it all, something comes up. You have to guard against stereotypes. You have to guard against making bad decisions. You have to avoid corruption. Police officers are always in a glass house and everyone is always looking at you and everything you do.

William Haymaker

William Haymaker is a first-class patrolman who works the night shift. He is also a member of a SWAT team and a training officer for new employees.

Describe your present job.

I work the night shift, from 10:45 P.M. to 7:15 A.M. My basic duties are to patrol through neighbor-hoods and business districts. At the same time, I am responsible for maintaining traffic control. Another aspect of my job is handling calls dealing with assignments from burglaries in progress, to threatened suicides, to lost dogs.

Do you work alone or as part of a team?

I am alone in a patrol car because our department is not big enough nor is the crime rate high enough to need a two-officer car. Someone is always close by and willing to help, if needed. This is where the teamwork comes in.

What do you see yourself doing in the future?

Right now, I'm a first-class patrolman, a member of a SWAT team, and a training officer. I would like to become a sergeant and then a lieutenant on road patrol.

Is there a lot of competition for jobs in law enforcement?

Absolutely! The number of applicants who are turned down by police departments far outnumber the ones who are accepted.

Do you think you are suited to the job?

I believe so. I try not to let people's negative attitudes get me down, and I have a positive approach toward people and my job. I have had many different jobs in life, ranging from grocery clerk to janitor to general maintenance man, and I have tried to learn something from each of them. I believe that this has allowed me to use good common sense in handling my job. Also, I am in good physical shape for handling the physical aspects of this job.

Do you get to meet a lot of new people on the job?

I meet new people every day. I try to use each new encounter to my best advantage. I have come to discover that if people are given a chance to prove they are trustworthy, there will usually not be any problems between them and me.

I got a call from dispatch that took me to the small home of an elderly woman. The report came from a phone repairman, who told me that the woman was living in filth and that she did not seem to be able to clean up her home. After taking the initial report and finding out that there was little that could be done for the woman, two of my fellow officers and I went to the woman's house a couple of days later in our work clothes. We did various jobs such as cleaning floors, washing dishes, and repairing some old plumbing. Later on that year, all three of us were named employees of the month. We didn't do the job because we wanted monetary reward or even recognition from anyone. We only helped her because that's what our hearts told us to do and we all felt that this was a little of what law enforcement is all about.