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    I am a full time student and athlete so I do not have much spare time. However, I want to become a cop when I get out of school. I am 21 and have one year left. Does anyone have any suggestions to get me started in the right direction? I need a place to begin. Thanks

  • #2
    Well, I think you'd do well to start learning something of what you'd want in an agency. There are an awful lot of variables, and the resonses you get from working cops reflect all the variety of personalities among people.

    Good small local agencies can offer a chance to do a lot of things you might not get to do for years in a large agency. For instance, in our agency, with a sgt. and two line officers on patrol at a time to cover a county, you deal with everything, and you do your own misdemeanor investigations. Only felonies are referred to detectives. And, of course, you know everyone well.

    To get to top money, you'll be looking at a large agency with salaries for command folks reflecting the complexities of management in a big outfit. On the other hand, if you like a small town atmosphere and a short drive to work and maybe a car to yourself and the privilege of taking it home, that's mainly a smaller agency thing. It will likely be a trade-off against pay. But know that there are a LOT of folks working for less money to be where they enjoy being.

    If you like to be settled in one place, note that federal agencies and many state police agencies will have you moving regularly to advance. For example, a trooper may have to move to advance to sgt, because the policy is that you won't be made a supervisor of the troopers you've been working with.

    You can also look into differences in states. Some have lateral transfer laws that may mandate that, if you move to another department, you can't be reduced more than one rank. There are some obvious trade-offs there, too.

    In Texas, though, you may have ten years and sgt or higher rank and have to begin back as a patrol officer if you move.

    In general, you would do well to investigate the agency's relationship with the local government and the community.

    If you think you'll have an interest in a specialty, look to large agencies, especially those with a policy of helping promising officers get advanced education. But you can't really be sure you'll be able to get the assignment you want.

    But remember, unless it's just a bum agency, if you go at it with a genuine attitude that you're determined to be as close to best officer they have, making your work decisions by asking yourself what's the right thing to do, you'll get the breaks just about anywhere.

    You don't have a lot of spare time, but cops are big gossips, and the local officers there will have quite a bit to say about other places. If there's a ride-along program where you are, take advantage of it as a way to get some talk time in with some officers, as well as to get close enough to them to get some open and honest answers. If there's no formal program, you may still get to ride, if you sit down with a command officer and explain your goals. Heck. You wouldn't be the first intern or rider to fall in love with the agency and stay there for life. One of my former interns (and we got only the best of the CJ majors, because our internship was VERY real) stayed on, finished school working in dispatch, became an officer, and made sgt a couple of weeks ago. I don't think she regrets it at all.

    Start reading various agency's web sites, looking for things that might attract you. Check out the attractive ones and see if there seems to be some reality behind the rah-rah on the site.

    There's every imaginable kind of situation available out there. But it's not all that different than what the seniors over in the business school will be doing with their year. The difference is that *your* life is going to be real.

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    • #3
      thanks for the advice it gave me some things to think about. And exactly what i asked for, a place to start. thanks again.

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      • #4
        Things to do now:
        1. Study conversational Spanish, accounting, finance. (These last 2 will help you later if you want to go into investigations later).
        2. Get in shape - run, take a martial art, work out.
        3. Really think about what you want to do, and where you want to do it.

        I worked for a Federal Agency, mostly loved it. Worked in New England, California (in the old days, when it was nice), Mexican Border in Arizona; Got to visit 11 countries on the GOV dollar; All my transfers were to places I wanted to go.
        I was having fun, making good money, and doing something for the people of this country, which had done so much for my family.
        "A man who has nothing which he cares about more than he does about his personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the existing of better men than himself."
        John Stuart Mill

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