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  • Being a Police Officer.......Occupation or Profession?

    If you dont know, I'm a relativly new leo and still a student. In one of my Criminal Justice classes, a question got brought up. Are police officers professionals, or simply people with an occupation? It seems like a toss up to me. And the class was divided. So The teacher gives us an assignment to come up with a list of the reasons why police officers are simply people who have an occupation, or are people that have a profession.

    "A profession is an specialized occupation or vocation characterized by intensive training leading to a first professional degree and subsequent licensure by a regulatory body. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, professions involve the application of specialized knowledge of a subject, field, or science to fee-paying clientele.[1] It is axiomatic that "professional activity involves systematic knowledge and proficiency."[2] Professions are distinguished from other occupations represented by trade groups due to their level of legal recognition" From Wikipedia

    "An occupation is the principal business of one's life; the principal work by which one earns one's livelihood" - from Websters

    A doctor is a profession. A chimney sweeper is an occupation.

    In class, I was one to say Police Officers are professionals. But as a read the definations, I feel I need to go with occupation. Are we a specialized occupation? I'd like to think so. But to be a professional, you must have a professional degree. Could a BA be concidered a degree high enough to be considered a professional? I'm also torn because some areas, you must have a BA degree to get hired. It seems insulting to us (all police officers) that cops get summarized into just people with just an occupation, like its a trade or something.

    I'd love to hear some opinions, and thoughts on what you think. Are cops just people with an occupation, or are we people with a profession? It seems like we could be a little of both, but I need to pick one side and stick with it, and be able to articulate my reasons for it. I'm kinda stuck and would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks

  • #2
    Originally posted by MaineSqueeze View Post
    If you dont know, I'm a relativly new leo and still a student. In one of my Criminal Justice classes, a question got brought up. Are police officers professionals, or simply people with an occupation? It seems like a toss up to me. And the class was divided. So The teacher gives us an assignment to come up with a list of the reasons why police officers are simply people who have an occupation, or are people that have a profession.

    "A profession is an specialized occupation or vocation characterized by intensive training leading to a first professional degree and subsequent licensure by a regulatory body. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, professions involve the application of specialized knowledge of a subject, field, or science to fee-paying clientele.[1] It is axiomatic that "professional activity involves systematic knowledge and proficiency."[2] Professions are distinguished from other occupations represented by trade groups due to their level of legal recognition" From Wikipedia

    "An occupation is the principal business of one's life; the principal work by which one earns one's livelihood" - from Websters

    A doctor is a profession. A chimney sweeper is an occupation.

    In class, I was one to say Police Officers are professionals. But as a read the definations, I feel I need to go with occupation. Are we a specialized occupation? I'd like to think so. But to be a professional, you must have a professional degree. Could a BA be concidered a degree high enough to be considered a professional? I'm also torn because some areas, you must have a BA degree to get hired. It seems insulting to us (all police officers) that cops get summarized into just people with just an occupation, like its a trade or something.

    I'd love to hear some opinions, and thoughts on what you think. Are cops just people with an occupation, or are we people with a profession? It seems like we could be a little of both, but I need to pick one side and stick with it, and be able to articulate my reasons for it. I'm kinda stuck and would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks
    Probably not much help for your class, but I really think it's a matter of Semantics. For thirty eight years I regarded myself as a professional, and thus a member of a profession.Others may not, but then, that's their problem. Just my .02 though.

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    • #3
      I would argue that police officer is a profession because chances are, regardless of what state you work in, you hold some sort of license - i.e., high level of legal recognition. Police academies are accredited, regulated institutions that turn out licensed police officers, just as colleges and universities are accredited, regulated institutions that turn out lawyers, doctors, teachers, and so on.

      Our "professional degree" is our CALEA or state-regulated accreditation, which in many cases can be carried across state borders to secure employment in other law enforcement agencies. Compare that to, say, a teacher whose Bachelor's of Education is useful for getting a teaching job whether it's in New York, Idaho, or wherever.

      As well, the college degree doesn't really matter in defining a profession. Legal recognition is what counts. For example, take states where anyone who passes the bar exam may practice law, regardless of whether they possess a law degree. Does having a law degree help you pass the bar? Certainly. But one does not necessarily have to have the degree to take the bar and practice law.
      Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

      "You've got to be good in this business, but you've got to get a lot of breaks. If you don't realize that, if you really think you're sitting here because of your genius or anything, I don't know, maybe your background is different, but I got my butt kicked a lot at every level, including this one."

      - Stan Van Gundy

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      • #4
        None of the above...


        Its a calling.

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        • #5
          I'd say it has been accepted as a profession for quite some time.

          Law Enforcement
          Code of Ethics
          As a Law Enforcement Officer, my fundamental duty is to serve
          mankind; to safeguard lives and property; to protect the innocent
          against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation, and the
          peaceful against violence or disorder; and to respect the Constitutional
          Rights of all men to liberty, equality and justice.

          I will keep my private life unsullied as an example to all;
          maintain courageous calm in the face of danger, scorn, or ridicule;
          develop self- restraint; and be constantly mindful of the welfare of
          others. Honest in thought and deed in both my personal and official
          life. I will be exemplary in obeying the laws of the land and the
          regulations of my department. Whatever I see or hear of a confidential
          nature or that is confided to me in my official capacity will be kept ever
          secret unless revelation is necessary in the performance of my duty.

          I will never act officiously or permit personal feelings, prejudices,
          animosities, or friendships to influence my decisions. With no
          compromise for crime and with relentless prosecution of criminals, I
          will enforce the law courteously and appropriately without fear or
          favor, malice or violence and never accepting gratuities.

          I recognize the badge of my office as a symbol of public faith, and
          I accept it as a public trust to be held so long as I am true to the ethics
          of the police service. I will constantly strive to achieve these objectives
          and ideals, dedicating myself before God to my chosen profession . . .
          law enforcement.




          I think individuals treat it like a job/ occupation, but most of us consider it a profession.

          Comment


          • #6
            Profession: You are held to a higher standard than others... you are certified... and specialized
            You will learn quick who feels it is a profession and who feels it is an occupation... The ones who think it is an occupation will be the ones that punch the clock and don't do much else.
            "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" Romans 12:21

            Comment


            • #7
              I think the job as a whole is a profession, and most of us that do it are professionals. Even by your definition we are professionals. We do training (academy, inservice, specialty training), we are licensed by a regulatory body (FDLE in Florida), and we have a fee paying clientele (citizens pay taxes).

              Comment


              • #8
                By that defination law enforcement is a 'profession'. Except for the fee-paying clientele part. Unless you count tax payers as paying clientele. But then again, we have businesses paying us hourly for our presence at their establishments. We call it 'extra duty' and sign up to work it on our time off. You are held to a higher standerd then anyone else in any other "profession" or "occupation". You enforce the law of the land and have the ability to strip people of their freedom. You work in alot of dangerous situations that no other job would dare send their employees into. I could go on and on.

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                • #9
                  For most of us it is a profession. You are trained and certified through the government. At least here if you don't have that certification you cannot hold the position and the authority is not granted. I plan on retiring for me it is a profession. Their are some who are capable of doing the job but only do so because its a relatively stable position. For them its an occupation.
                  Last edited by Monkeybomb; 12-02-2008, 11:20 AM.
                  The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Characteristics of professionalism:

                    · Service to others

                    · Assessment of client needs

                    · Theoretical body of knowledge obtained through extended pre- service education

                    · Standards for entry, practice, and ethical conduct

                    · Professional association to maintain standards

                    · Continuing education and life long learning

                    I would say that law enforcement meets all of the characteristics of a profession / professionalism.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I agree that it's a profession.

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                      • #12
                        In Austria, we used to say "Berufung, nicht nur Beruf".

                        Translation: Profession, not just occupation.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Hasn't this one been beat to death already? It's a job. A profession requires more education than general equivalency diploma and an 18 week police academy. The fact that there are plenty of police departments who don't require any type of degree means that there is no "standard" of higher education in the field. This "standard" is another requirement for a field to be a profession.

                          This is a job or occupation, not a profession. I don't understand why so many cops have the need to be considered members of one of the professions. Low self esteem? You can be proud to be a good policeman and you can do your job well without being a member of one of the professions. Throwing a word like "profession" around so loosely destroys the meaning of the word.
                          Last edited by On The; 12-02-2008, 03:31 PM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            It is a lifestyle. You are held to higher standards. You must attend schools constantly and many officers have degrees. Many colleges will give you damn near a degree for completing the police academy (750+ hrs in NJ.)

                            It is a profession. Also, a college degree is not the ONLY standard for a profession. There a many professional people that DO NOT have a college degree.
                            Last edited by stormz5192; 12-02-2008, 04:26 PM. Reason: ..........
                            Being a good street cop is like coming to work in a wet suit and peeing in your pants. It's a nice warm feeling, but you're the only one who knows anything has happened.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              IMO, it's a vocation or as some would say, a calling.
                              To some it's a job & to those that say that, if that's your real opinion, then you probably perform it as a "job" and if you're happy, fine.
                              To those that say it's a "profession", I know plenty of doctor's, lawyer's, etc. who show up for work, do a good job, then go home & sleep well. Just because they have a degree doesn't make them "professional" at anything.
                              LEOs are a strange group --- we'll sacrifice alot--- family, friends, our welfare, even our lives for strangers, risk our own freedom for others all for comparitively little pay and "feel" it's the right thing to do. Don't tell me LEOS are simply employees --it takes FAAAAAR more commitment to step in this arena than one may think.
                              Police officers aren't paid for what they DO, they're paid for what they might have to do & what no one else Wants to do........

                              Comment

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