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  • Local vs. State Agencies

    I just posted this in the New Jersey sub-forum, but I thought this would also be appropriate here as well:
    As a student in college studying towards a criminal justice degree, I do have a career path in mind, however I'm not completely sure which route I want to take. I like the idea of municipal/local law enforcement in small or larger towns, like Hillsborough or Toms River, and the overall idea of community policing is great, too. Yet I also like the idea of NJSP and their more legalistic approach to policing, as well as the idea of patrolling the highways in state. Has anyone had any experience doing either of these, and can you please explain a bit about what township/post you work out of, and what you like or dislike? Any information would help a lot.
    "There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure."

  • #2
    Well, it's not New Jersey and things are often different out here in the West as opposed to the East.

    However, generally speaking, the further up the government food chain you go the more specialized the agencies are going to be. CSP primarily deals with traffic and auto related crime. Sure, their troopers get pulled into DV incidents, robbery and the like as backup or when nobody else is around but primarily they do traffic. I've had troopers tell me they will pull over for ANY violation just because that's what they do. That little light on your rear plate? Many officers use that or similar things as a pretext to stop when they are suspicious but can't articulate "reasonable suspicion". Troopers sometimes just pull you over for that. It's an equipment violation. Game wardens the same, with regard to hunting and fishing. Not having a fishing license is a big deal to them. You likely have all the little agencies that investigate various tax things: Alcohol, gaming, lottery, etc... very specialized.

    "Lower" level agencies are less focused.

    A rural county sheriff like I work for, handles everything that happens. We only have two "municipal" departments in the whole county, and neither has the staffing for 24/7 operations, so we can handle anything/ everything/ anywhere/ anywhen at the drop of a hat, and road deputies often handle cases that would get passed to a detective in a larger/metro agency. When you throw in the specialized duties a sheriff has out here: civil service, courts, prisoner transport and detention, etc it gets pretty crazy.

    Small towns are often similar. Less happens, but the small crimes impact the citizenry and you directly. A kid's bike gets stolen, but you know the kid. Roy and Mary are fighting again, and you attend church with them, and now you have to take Mary to jail for punching Roy out again. You end up handling it all, much like we do, and usually have very close contact with the population.

    Larger metro agencies can have the small town feel on your beat if you work at it, but the bigger/more interesting cases will get passed up the chain to investigators. More stuff happens, which can be fun, but it can make it hard to actually resolve anything. Usually more civil dispute calls, too which are a pain.
    Last edited by tanksoldier; 06-02-2014, 11:52 AM.
    "I am a Soldier. I fight where I'm told and I win where I fight." -- GEN George S. Patton, Jr.

    "With a brother on my left and a sister on my right, we face…. We face what no one should face. We face, so no one else would face. We are in the face of Death." -- Holli Peet

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    • #3
      Just don't be a trooper.

      I kid, I kid.

      Personally, I work in a small town with 40 officers, and I love it. I know all the "players", since their kids attend the elementary school I am an SRO in.
      The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, cannot and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheepdog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed.

      I Am the Sheepdog.


      "And maybe just remind the few, if ill of us they speak,
      that we are all that stands between
      the monsters and the weak." - Michael Marks


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      • #4
        They are really two totally different career choices for the most part but they can overlap. If you go state your career choices come with a cost.. and that cost is generally moving. Same with promotions. You can be from say Ocean County and be forced to start your career out of the academy in Hunterdon County in patrol. Remember...not every area will have actual "policing services".

        It may take you a few years to get back to Ocean County. Once you do, an opening may come up in say forensics or K9 that would require you to relocate to Trenton. Or a promotion could come up that moves you to Cape May. Obviously working in Tom's River PD will offer you K9 an promotions too... But you won't get to be a helicopter pilot or an EOD specialist there. It's a trade off.

        Financially... suburban departments will have comparative pay to their state counterparts...some pay more. Generally statues have benefits that are a tad bit better when it comes to retirement.

        You just really need to sit down and think about what you want out of your career. What do you feel that you want to do... what types of specialties do u want to go after.. or do you want to be chasing after bad guys on foot and catching drug dealers...or writing lots of traffic.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by steelcityk9cop View Post
          They are really two totally different career choices for the most part but they can overlap. If you go state your career choices come with a cost.. and that cost is generally moving. Same with promotions. You can be from say Ocean County and be forced to start your career out of the academy in Hunterdon County in patrol. Remember...not every area will have actual "policing services".

          It may take you a few years to get back to Ocean County. Once you do, an opening may come up in say forensics or K9 that would require you to relocate to Trenton. Or a promotion could come up that moves you to Cape May. Obviously working in Tom's River PD will offer you K9 an promotions too... But you won't get to be a helicopter pilot or an EOD specialist there. It's a trade off.

          Financially... suburban departments will have comparative pay to their state counterparts...some pay more. Generally statues have benefits that are a tad bit better when it comes to retirement.

          You just really need to sit down and think about what you want out of your career. What do you feel that you want to do... what types of specialties do u want to go after.. or do you want to be chasing after bad guys on foot and catching drug dealers...or writing lots of traffic.
          That really puts it into perspective for me... especially with that you had to say about the K9 units. Ultimately what I want most out of my career is to end up as either a sergeant or a K9 patrol officer, and from what you've had to add to this conversation it makes it more apparent that maybe a suburban department with a K9 unit is more well suited for me. Thanks for your input!
          "There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure."

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          • #6
            Mike... two things.. 1) Would not be a bad idea to stop at your local NJSP barracks some time and talk with a Trooper about how their specialty and promotional opertunities work as far as need to move and things like that. And 2) I noticed you were in college.. if the opertunity presents itself, do some ride alongs with a municipal department the size you are looking at and see what it's all about. When I was in college I spent a whole semester working 32 hours a week at one and it was an eye opener. Once I was done with my "inside work" each day I was able to go on the road for 3 or 4 hours.

            NJSP will be a little bit tougher to get the feel for but they may have opertunities for college kids as well.

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            • #7
              In N Y you could end up in a county where you are the only law enforcement period, such as Allegany Co. You handle everything. Or Monroe Co. We do traffic. Or Livingston Co. Where you work with the Sheriff Dept and answer calls together.

              I get my balls busted all the time because I made more money than some of my county buddy's . My response is had you decided to spend the initial 6 months 300 miles from home in a live in academy and then be assigned to a station 350 miles from home for three more years you could have earned as much as me . That stops the conversation.
              Good luck on what you choose. Don't become an SRO as they do nothing but cuff little johnie for biting his pop tart into the shape of a nuclear weapon. Kidding just Kidding SRO Trooper Hater.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by steelcityk9cop View Post
                Mike... two things.. 1) Would not be a bad idea to stop at your local NJSP barracks some time and talk with a Trooper about how their specialty and promotional opertunities work as far as need to move and things like that. And 2) I noticed you were in college.. if the opertunity presents itself, do some ride alongs with a municipal department the size you are looking at and see what it's all about. When I was in college I spent a whole semester working 32 hours a week at one and it was an eye opener. Once I was done with my "inside work" each day I was able to go on the road for 3 or 4 hours.

                NJSP will be a little bit tougher to get the feel for but they may have opertunities for college kids as well.
                Having professors that are retired state police help a lot, so they may have some insight into promotional opportunities, I'll definitely ask them. As for the ride alongs, I'm definitely going to look into that too. Whenever I see them out on the road I always think about how awesome it is having a job like that, so being able to do ride alongs and actually getting a feel for it would be awesome.
                "There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure."

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Rettroop View Post
                  In N Y you could end up in a county where you are the only law enforcement period, such as Allegany Co. You handle everything. Or Monroe Co. We do traffic. Or Livingston Co. Where you work with the Sheriff Dept and answer calls together.

                  I get my balls busted all the time because I made more money than some of my county buddy's . My response is had you decided to spend the initial 6 months 300 miles from home in a live in academy and then be assigned to a station 350 miles from home for three more years you could have earned as much as me . That stops the conversation.
                  Good luck on what you choose. Don't become an SRO as they do nothing but cuff little johnie for biting his pop tart into the shape of a nuclear weapon. Kidding just Kidding SRO Trooper Hater.
                  Hahah c'mon man, SRO's aren't that bad! All kidding aside, NJSP is somewhat like Monroe County in terms of how they handle traffic incidents and investigations on the highways in NJ, as well as general assistance and answering calls in areas that do not have available/sustainable law enforcement. For example, after Hurricane Sandy, the Seaside Heights Police Department had a lot of issues with crime and even lack of resources due to damages from the storm, so NJSP routinely patrolled the boardwalk area. For the most part though, NJSP in my area of the state deals with traffic and accidents on the major highways. Every now and then they have alternate assignments, but it's almost always patrol and traffic.
                  "There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure."

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