There are a lot of stereotypes when it comes to police officers that set unacceptable expectations that don’t exist in reality. Whether you are thinking about attempting to join the force or are actively working towards being a police officer, here are some things you should know.
Physical Fitness Is Ideal
You may see larger-sized police officers but they aren’t all out of shape. A lot of those police officers are wearing tons of protective gear. That gear is not as lightweight as it first sounds and performing foot patrol or an investigation is going to require having a body that can handle the extra weight with the physical demands of the job. Not all police departments have the same requirements so check into the ones you want to work in and make sure that you meet them. If you need some tactical gear, we advise checking online. A quick search, such as bulletproof vests for sale, should help you find what you need to know about a vest’s weight and other specs. Always check the reviews to find out if there are any nuances to the items you should be aware of!
Some Education Is Needed
For some police departments, all you need is a high school education. The department will provide you with all the other training you will need. However, a growing number of departments are now requiring a little extra schooling or military experience before hiring. Military experience is a plus because it means less training when it comes to weapons-use and de-escalating a situation. Some college is also helpful so that you get some pre-training done and can do more in your new position. We like to make the suggestion that you shoot for obtaining a degree in criminal justice. Why? With a lot of book knowledge under your belt, you will be less likely to make mistakes in the field when it comes to making appropriate arrests and you can be of better assistance to the public. It makes it easier for you to rise up in your department if you want to aspire to higher levels of command. Anyone who wants to start as a police officer and move upward should get some career-focused schooling either before they start their career or later, during their work life.
Know What It Is You Want To Do
Police work doesn’t look like what you might think it is. It’s not always chasing bad guys on foot or high-speed car chases. It’s not always intense detective work trying to figure out who did what and what their motive was. Television has glorified police work to a point in which we imagine the detective or the beat cop and that is about it. Our own experiences with police officers also can limit our beliefs on what we can do in law enforcement. There is a whole other world that you may not have considered and now is a great time to really clarify your goals. A few options that you may not have considered is:
- Bailiff – assisting the judge in the courtroom
- Transit Police – a special force that pertains to all things transit (bus, subways, and railways)
- Game Warden – specializing in fish and game laws and enforcement only
A Good Head On Your Shoulders
Lastly, it is important that a police officer is a good person all around. They have to be able to make good snap judgments, able to read people, and be mentally strong. These are natural born leaders who know the best practices to de-escalate a situation while making the right decisions on how to best handle a situation. They are quick to protect their personal safety as well as public safety. There is also a lot of paperwork involved and you have to be able to go from a stressful situation on the streets to the patrol car to input important data without making a mistake. It is a mentally exhausting job all around!
So now that you know what is expected, what do you want to do with your future law enforcement career?