Introduction: Guide to Becoming a Police Officer
It might be rather strange to see me writing about becoming a police officer because personally I work in a hospital, yet I do have a reason and some knowledge to write a small guide about this topic. Not long ago, one of my friends told me that he wanted to become a police officer. Naturally, I volunteered to help him find out how he should go about fulfilling this ambition. There are quite a few issues that need to be solved in order to become a law enforcement officer. Today, I want to share my findings with anyone who may need this information.
Step 1: Are You Qualified?
Naturally, the first thing you should do in order to become a police officer is to enroll in a specialized training program. This will be your first obstacle because not everyone can get accepted for this training. Every state has a unique set of requirements that a person needs to meet in order to be allowed to apply for police academy training. In most cases, these requirements include:
• Being 18 or older (some states only accept candidates over 21)
• Being a U.S. citizen
• Having a high school diploma or its GED equivalent
• Passing both reading and writing entrance exams
• Passing all background checks
• Having a clean criminal record
• Having a valid driver’s license
• Meeting physical standards and passing a physical fitness test
Step 2: Choosing a Police Academy
There are several police academies in every county. Thus, you will need to do a bit of research to determine which of them you should apply to. Although, the course curriculum offered by these academies is rather similar, there are some slight differences that can play an important role in your future career in law enforcement. This means that you should study the curriculum and see whether the diploma you get upon graduating this particular academy will get you into the department you want to join.
You can choose one of the several police departments that specialize in fighting various types of crimes, for example, drug trafficking, terrorism, homicide, road patrol, etc. In case you have some particular goal, you should contact the department you want to work for in the future and find out whether they have any specific requirements for applicants. You may need to enroll in their specialized training facility instead of an academy if they do.
Step 3: Exam Preparation
Passing the police academy entrance exams won’t be easy in the least. This means that you will need to start preparing months in advance. Your exam preparation program should include three phases:
• Phase one is studying the theory. There are some guidebooks you can find online or order in your nearest bookshop. Studying them will not only help you pass the exams, but will assist with your future studies as well. Many people drop out of the academy because they cannot keep up with the theoretical courses taught there.
• Phase two is physical training, as physical fitness is very important for a police officer.The exam you will need to pass won’t have any fancy exercises involved, but you won’t be able to succeed if your speed and stamina are lacking. You can find information about police academy workouts online and use it to design your personal training plan. Starting this portion of your training as soon as possible will help you condition your body in a way that will make it easier for you to handle the workouts you will go through once you get accepted.
• Phase three is preparation for an interview. You should research the most common questions asked during interviews such as this. This will help you feel more confident and calm during the meeting itself.
Step 4: Becoming a Real Officer
Once you get accepted into the police academy of your choice, you will need to work to the best of your ability to stay in it. Police training is extremely hard, thus, many people drop out long before graduation.
During your time in the academy you learn:
• Law and how to implement it in real life situations
• Using different weapons and tools available to a police officer (baton, handcuffs, etc.)
• Psychology and the art of negotiations
You will also improve your physical condition greatly. Otherwise, you won’t be able to pass the exams and graduate.
After you finish your studies and pass the necessary exams, you will be able to jaw the police force. In case you don’t have an ambition of joining some specific division, you will be assigned to a department. You’ll have to work your way from the very bottom as you will be the lowest ranking officer in the station. However, hard work and initiative will allow you progress in your law enforcement career.