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Small town vs Big town LE, what do you like?

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  • Small town vs Big town LE, what do you like?

    I may have the opportunity to work for a small town Police Department, what are the differences between large and small towns, obvious differences aside? Some folks prefer small some prefer big, what do you like and why? Thank you.
    "We have enough youth, how about a fountain of smart?"

  • #2
    There are numerous differences between large and small departments. The big thing is money.

    In a small department, often times officers are required to purchase their own gun, vest, belt, uniforms, etc. Small departmet officers are usually multi-purpose officers. You will take the initial report, process the crime scene, do follow-up investigations, etc. You may also serve civil process, act as an animal control officer, things like that. With the smaller budget, you most likely will be driving older patrol vehicles with minimal equipment. You also will be lacking in available back units as you may be the only officer working at the time. Most small departments have a good working relationship with neighboring department/county sheriff/state police.

    In large departments is sometimes quite the opposite. I work for an agency of about 300 sworn. All of our uniforms, guns, vests, boots, whatever is issued. We have things like Taser's, AR-15's, a SWAT team, MDT's in our cars, and new(er) cars. We have specialized crime scene units, a detective division, bicycle unit, motorcycle unit, helicopter unit, and so on. The big thing that we have is a labor union (F.O.P.) which has help get us most of the stuff we have.

    You can get a lot of experience starting out at a smaller department, which if you choose, will be a good stepping stone to joining a larger department.

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    • #3
      In this part of the country, it's the other way around. The smaller departments usually have better pay/equipment. Everyone here has POA's so that's not an issue. Many people here leave large departments to join smaller ones for better pay/work conditions.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by ben88
        In this part of the country, it's the other way around. The smaller departments usually have better pay/equipment. Everyone here has POA's so that's not an issue. Many people here leave large departments to join smaller ones for better pay/work conditions.
        Must be nice !! I would imagine small departments in Washington and Kansas are a bit different from SoCal.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by z28kilr
          Must be nice !! I would imagine small departments in Washington and Kansas are a bit different from SoCal.
          And toss Missouri into the mix. Small towns around here (for the most part) blow. That's why I, and most of the other officers I work with, are looking for work.
          Low pay, crappy equiptment, and political crap from the "town elders" gets old really, really quick.....

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          • #6
            I prefer small towns. You know everyone so you know who the problem people are.

            Cons: I have no backup at all. I do everything from Animal Control to homicide.
            Last edited by jakflak; 09-07-2005, 09:48 AM.

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            • #7
              You are looking at small # of people working with you, sometimes you would be only responding to call, and waiting on back up as much as fifteen to twenty minutes, I think. Work load would be extreme, if you live in town that's busy nonstop even if it's generally small community. Not that much of room for advancement, in some cases longer hours, low pay.
              Oh and not all shifts would be busy. You could have day shift being busiest and evening or night shift being slow.

              But you'd still gain experience no matter what if it's large city or suburban area. True, you might not deal with SAME exact calls as large city Police Department would, but you would have similar, and could understand and grasp some of knowledge of law enforcement faster in smaller department.

              If I had choice I would perfer to work for smaller town. Currently the town I work for has 70,000 people and only about 100+ officers in my department. Our afternoon shift is the busiest one, while night shift and mornings are pretty much quiet. Except routine traffic stops.


              Just my .02.

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              • #8
                Well perhaps I should have defined "small". This city is about 2000 people,so it's pretty small in comparison to most. I have found that the officers do indeed work very close with the Sherrif's department, due to the city's location, whichis about 15 miles from the next city of any size which has about 15,000 population. The town has a state highway that is highly traveled that runs through it, so I would expect a fair amount of business from people passing through. Has that been ya'lls experience?
                "We have enough youth, how about a fountain of smart?"

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                • #9
                  Having worked both, there are positives and negatives to both. Just depends on what you think you might like. If its your first job offer, take it and use it as learning experience. Can always transfer down the road, which it seems that a lot of officers do. I did it.

                  K9

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                  • #10
                    I had an offer from a large city but it meant i would have had to go through the acadamy again, so I got a job in a small city/town. I don't make the money that I would have in the larger city. But I don't have some of the headaches either. It's been easier to get noticed. It depends on what you want. I'm happy.
                    "Well I'm here now, so deal with it."

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                    • #11
                      I went from...300 sworn county sheriff
                      to; 2800 sworn county sheriff

                      for me: bigger was better
                      bigger pay checks means , bigger chunk paid into my retirement
                      more overtime
                      more off duty detail
                      union contract
                      no working at the sheriff's pleasure

                      working in hooterville with them former chicken farmers/ walmart workers
                      was the friggin pitts.


                      www.schackdaddy.com
                      " if you talk in your sleep, don't mention my name....
                      " if you walk in your sleep, forget where you came....

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                      • #12
                        My current department has 55 officers. Wouldn't want it any bigger or any smaller.
                        It's 106 miles to Chicago, we've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses....Hit it!

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                        • #13
                          Large dept. for me in SoCal. I'd rather be a number than everyone knowing my name. There's more job oppurtunity and overtime. You'll also find it is busier and usually get more experience. Bottom line is you have to weigh the pro's and cons. No matter if you have 2 guys on your dept. or 10,000, we're all cops and need to stick together.

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                          • #14
                            From one end of the state to the other here. All towns in between, big and small. Country roads and highways. Small Mayberry towns and big city sh*tholes, all in the same day.

                            That's what works for me.
                            Whitechapel - Hate Creation

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                            • #15
                              From 32 to 570 coppers. I am enjoying the the big department. You can get "lost" in the department and you can stay very busy. I agree with gaining the experience. Gained more experience my first couple months then years at the other department.

                              K9

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