There are over 18,000 local and state law enforcement agencies in America, at least two thirds of which are police departments. Every police department operates a bit differently. Some are well funded and technologically advanced, some are understaffed and strapped for cash, and others are comprised of just two or three local lawmen. But the one thing they all have in common is a dedicated team of professionals sworn to protect and serve.
Many police departments are challenged by an aging workforce fast approaching retirement. The need to replace these individuals will be met by an increasingly diverse police force of the future. The first step to becoming a police officer is qualifying for the opportunity. You must be a U.S. citizen, at least 21 years of age, able to meet rigorous educational, physical, and psychological standards, and pass a background check.
Most police departments require a college education, preferably with a degree in criminal justice. A master’s degree is expected of those who want to rise up through the ranks of this profession. Knowledge of a foreign language will definitely work in your favor.
You must be in good physical condition to qualify for this career. Some of the benchmarks you will need to achieve include: running two miles in less than 16 minutes, sprinting 100 yards or more, doing 20 pushups in 1 minute, and being able to scale an 8-foot fence or wall.
You will be tested in a variety of ways, from an assessment of your ethics to in-depth questioning about your passion for the profession. Some interviewers will present you with hypothetical situations and analyze your ability to think on your feet and respond under pressure.
If you have any drug offenses, major traffic violations, or questionable associates, you will be ruled out almost immediately. Every piece of documented information about you will be studied, and your friends, family members, or coworkers may be questioned about your intentions. Some police departments will also want to check your car as part of the interview process.
The Police Academy
Those who qualify are then required to complete the necessary police academy training. Depending on the jurisdiction, training can take from three months to one year. Think of it as a military-style boot camp that will also teach you public relations, criminal law, psychology and ethics. You will also learn how to use a firearm, engage a suspect, process a crime scene, and use an impressive array of police equipment.
Today’s police departments are leveraging technology in new and innovative ways, from using systems to analyze and forecast crime patterns to piloting drones over their cities. Drones, while extremely controversial, are less expensive than helicopters. They can also take the place of humans to enhance surveillance and crowd control efforts. Individuals with military experience can be especially well suited to some of the newer roles within law enforcement.
Salary and Benefits
In the most recent study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2010, median salary for police officers was approximately $55,000 per year. Police officers can also count on receiving a comprehensive benefits package with extensive health coverage, generous paid time off, bonus opportunities, and an enviable retirement plan.
For example, the New York Police Department – home to “America’s Finest” – gives their officers the option to retire at half pay after 22 years on the job. This allows their employees to pursue a second career that leverages their experience at the NYPD, or do something entirely different while receiving regular pension payments.
It’s not easy to become a police officer, but a career in law enforcement certainly comes with significant rewards and respect.
Author Byline: Laura Mingo writes in the field of higher education. This article aims to offer career advice for university students in relation to criminal justice and promotes the benefits of advanced study regarding a Boston University masters in criminal justice online.
IMG Source: http://www.gobroomecounty.com/