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Army officer transitioning to civilian law enforcement experiences


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  • Army officer transitioning to civilian law enforcement experiences


    First off, thank you for all your service as police officers/emergency responders and those that have served in the armed forces.

    Secondly, does anyone have experiences transitioning as an officer in the military to civilian law enforcement?

    In a perfect world, I would like to time my exit from the Army after 6 years on active duty in line with a law enforcement job where I could go to the academy within a month after my ETS. I am looking to get with a department that runs/sponsors its own academy so there isn't a job search after school is completed as well.

    I do not want to put my REFRAD in to get out of the military until I have a slot in an actual academy class, but as you all know that is kind of hard to do. Most police departments don't want to talk to you until you have a separation date and you don't want to get marked by your unit as the guy getting out in case something changes and you continue serving.

    If this situation applies to anyone, the questions I have are:

    -Did you find any departments that were accepting of the fact that you didn't have a separation date yet due to the fact that you were an officer and you have to apply to be separated?

    -If you didn't tell your unit you were thinking about getting out, how did you handle the testing and dept. visits that are mandatory for getting hired?

    -How long did it take your REFRAD pushed through? I know they say apply a year out but most of the time that is unrealistic.

    -If you could do it again, how would you have handled the situation differently?

    -Finally, if you didn't have any of these experiences please share your recommendations.

    Thanks all and stay safe.


  • #2
    apply at every local/county/state/fed you can. To get through a lot of
    These processes testing/interviews will have to be taken. Good luck.


    • #3
      I am in the exact same position as you and will caveat this with the fact that I have not been hired by any department. I currently have applications in with federal, state and local departments. My federal application has gone as far as it can with the current budget situation, I have passed the written exam with a local department and have a panel interview scheduled next month and am having my application reviewed by the district SAC for a state agency next week. My theory is the more pokers I have in the fire, the better. While I would love to work for a specific agency, my ultimate goal is to begin a career in law enforcement and will begin where I have to.
      I have been on Active Duty for eight years and transitioned out of command two weeks ago. My ETS date is 01MAR2014 and go on terminal leave in DEC 2013 so I have some time -- I tried to design my transition this way.
      In terms of REFRAD you have to give at least six months notice but can give yourself up to one year which is what I did. It took about three weeks for my REFRAD to be approved but I had the benefit of being the CDR of the staff section that was responsible for staffing it so I could leverage that. All departments/agencies I have applied to are comfortable with an ETS date within one year (all have asked for some kind of approval message confirming my ETS date and Honorable Discharge).
      My command has been very supportive of me and has appreciated my honesty. Remember that everyone one of us can be easily replaced so as long as you give them a heads up it shouldn't effect your unit too much.
      That being said, the Army has gotten theirs over the past eight years so at times I have to assert myself to get mine. In that I mean that you must assert yourself to get time off for testing and interviews. If you have "use or lose" leave, leverage that. Your BDE will get a report at the end of the fiscal year showing who has lost leave and no CDR wants to report that they made a SM lose leave. If you don't have excess leave you still need to make them understand that you are serious about transitioning and deserve time to set yourself up. Almost every field grade I have spoken to has expressed that at some point in their career they contemplated getting out and respect the decision...again, be honest and respectful but forceful in your decision. That is the language they speak.
      I'll keep you up to date on how things have gone. Good luck.


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