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  • Seattle PD or WA State Patrol or other?

    Originally I had decided to read posts and never post myself, but I may as well ask...

    Anyway, my situation now: I am 27 and a professional Technical Writer, which is to say that I write product manuals and reports all day long, sitting at a desk. Even if police work is 85% report writing that is fine by me, currently my job is 100% report writing.

    I have a clean record and driving record (only one ticket in the last 6 years and that is more than 3 years old). I have no criminal record--period.

    Physically, well, I am a bit out of shape as I have a desk job and other factors. I will start working out some time around the middle of next month to get myself back in shape so that I can make sure that I will pass the physical tests.

    Since it will take some time to get myself into decent shape, I have decided to start attending night school and hopefully finish my Associates degree while still in the Houston area, and begin working out regularly. I will start my physical training in about one month (I have certain things that must take place before I will be able to devote the proper amount of time and resources to this endeavor).

    In all honesty though, I would move back in a month if I thought that they would take me into the academy now, but I know that I would not pass the physical.

    So, there's the background... now for the current dilemma...

    First, any advice? Any thoughts? Is there anything that I should do in approaching this change? Anything that I should know?

    Second, where to apply? While I understand that there will be a pay cut any way I turn, I do need to apply with a department that pays during the academy time, as I would not be able to afford to put myself through (one income family and all). Unfortunately, it seems that many departments don't. I know that the SPD does, and, from what I can tell, the Washington State Patrol does as well (is this true?). Now, I want to stay near Western Washington, particularly since my parents live on Whidbey Island (and the SPD would put me reasonably close). Would I be able to select the area with the WSP? My only hesitancy would be with regards to the area with the WSP, as I have absolutely NO intention of living anywhere near the eastern half of the state. I like living by the water and I can't stand Eastern Washington, but I love Western Washington.

    Is there any other department that may want to have me, that does cover the academy time? I mean, I am not overly picky or anything, and the SPD appears to fit my every desire (allowing me to be an officer, covering the training time, and the location is great--hey, I'm easy).
    Last edited by Windaria; 08-15-2006, 06:26 AM.

  • #2
    First bit of advise- shorten up your posts, and get to the question right away. You'll get more responses.

    Follow your heart and the rest will follow.
    Whitechapel - Hate Creation

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    • #3
      Sorry... like I said, writer. I tend to be excruciatingly verbose at times. As a result I edited my post and contracted the text in such a way as to remove several paragraphs.

      Anyway, I am looking to follow my heart, I just want to throw some reins on it and know what way in which to direct it in order to make my preparation time (however much it ends up being) as fruitful as possible. Anything extra that I need to/should do, etc.

      Thanks!

      (Oh, and Sine, congrats on the baby in that pic. I just had my first son and he's now 3.5 months. So much to make it all worth the effort.)

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      • #4
        Most major departments in the US run their own acacdemy, and you do get paid to go through it if you're selected.

        First thing I'd do is sit down with your spouse or girlfriend or whom ever and talk about this. I'm assuming in your position now you work a 9-5 Monday-Friday? Law Enforcment isn't a family friendly career. As a rookie you'll work horrible shifts and most likely the weekends and holidays. You'll make dinner plans with the ol' lady and have to cancel them because you got into something and have to stay over to do paper work. The divorce rate in Law Enforcment is retarded high. Just some food for though.

        Secondly. Yes, do your best to start getting, and staying in shape. That mile run 3 times a week could be the difference between being able to subdue a bad guy until backup arrives, getting your @ss kicked, or worse...being killed. Plus, it makes the lady friend happy when you're in good shape.

        Third, start doing ride alongs with the departments you're potentially interested in joining. This will answer 95% of your questions you may have about law enforcement, as well as show you the day to day operations of a police officer. With this, it'll show the department's brass that you're interested. Whether everyone likes it or not, every ride along you do is experience. Don't be afraid to ask questions.

        Last, but certainly not least...start taking tests. Every civil service test you take you'll get better. They're one in the same. The hiring process usually lasts (and it differs from department to department) from 6 months to a year, or more. You'll have plenty of time to get into shape.

        I wish you good luck sir. You're one step closer to the brotherhood.

        -Justin

        (As you can probably tell, I like to write as well.)
        -Stay safe

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        • #5
          J Mann, thank you so much for your reasoned reply.

          Yes, the talk with the wife. I wouldn't say 9-5, sort of more like 40 hours, whenever I can do them, generally around the hours of 8-5 (they really don't care too terribly much when I am here so long as I get the work done).

          Fortunately, because of my wife's health, she is actually a stay at home wife and will be homeschooling our children. As a result we are hoping that will make a lot of things easier. I fully expect the night shifts, weekends, and holidays. Fortunately, my wife and I rarely celebrate holidays on the actual day as it is, I would much rather work weekends and have weekdays off when no one is out, and if I worked night shift (when people normally sleep), and slept daylight hours (when people normally work), then that would be just fine with us. That way I could wake up, spend time with family during the evening, go to work for the night, come home and sleep when they are waking up... rinse wash repeat. We tend to adjust to these kinds of things well, so I hope that will carry over (have given this aspect a lot of thought, thanks).

          As for staying in shape, yeah... this will become a relatively large priority for me starting in one month (several factors will be aligning that will enable me to make a prolonged change, but not until then).

          And the ride alongs. Unfortunately that is very difficult for me since I am in Houston, TX and will be applying in or around Seattle, WA. As a result, I will not be able to do that until I am moving and am ready to start applying, but make no mistake, I will. I am also hoping to do some ride alongs this fall with Houston or Montgomery County, which may be an interesting area since it is my understanding that this area is a bit meaner than Seattle (particularly after monitoring odmp.org).

          Now... what do you mean by start taking tests? Do you mean start applying and trying out for it now? Unfortunately, not living in the area, I do not believe that I would be able to. Or do you mean something else?

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Windaria
            Now... what do you mean by start taking tests? Do you mean start applying and trying out for it now? Unfortunately, not living in the area, I do not believe that I would be able to. Or do you mean something else?
            Unfortunately you're going to have to live, or at least make a trip out to the Seattle area in order to test with their department. If you're willing to stay in Texas start taking police civil service exams in your area. Like I said, the experience with the tests won't hurt one bit.

            As for the ride alongs, you can pretty much ride with any department and get a feel for police work. Houston would be an excellent department to ride around with. I strongly recommend it.
            -Stay safe

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            • #7
              OK, interesting advice, I would not have thought of taking one just for practice. Thanks! And yes, I am looking forward to ride-alongs.

              Comment


              • #8
                3 things you MUST do if you decide to get into LE. The academy, for most people who don't live with mommy and daddy, is stressful in many ways.

                But you have to prepare your
                1. Family- time away, studying, stress etc
                2. Finances- my take home pay was less than unemployment.
                3. Fitness- only you can do that. Don't be that guy that gets special attention because you can't run 2 miles without a defibrilator waiting for you at the end.
                Whitechapel - Hate Creation

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                • #9
                  I would take both exams. Then you will have a dilema only if you get accepted at both departments.

                  Also, a lot of it comes down to what type of work you want to do. The job of a city Police Officer is substantially different than that of a State Patrol.
                  You can now follow me on twitter.

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                  • #10
                    I lived in Washington for five years before moving to Maryland to take the job I have now. As far as I know, there are no "on your own" academies in Washington for full timers (there are reserve academies for volunteer officers). There are only a few regional academies, plus the main academy in Burien (near Seattle). So, if you were to get hired, your academy training would probably be taken care of with any Washington agency.

                    Seattle PD and the WSP have very different organizational cultures and career paths. Seattle is a full-service agency that does everything from traffic to homicide investigation. You'll put in a substantial amount of time as a uniformed patrol officer before you'll be eligible to do anything else, but there are more options than with WSP.

                    The Washington State Patrol is about 95% traffic enforcement on the highways. You won't have a lot to say about where you will be posted, so if it's real important to be near Whidbey Island, that might not be your best choice. It's also not a great choice if you think you would get tired of chasing taillights. In my view,they are an excellent agency with a first-rate reputation, but there's basically only one job. And there's that issue of the bow ties they wear with their winter uniforms (no, I'm not kidding).

                    In either case, Washington has one of the most forgiving lateral entry policies in the USA. They will accept certified and experienced officers from almost anywhere, and it's even easier to move from one Washington department to another. I know that Seattle officers are regularly poached by smaller agencies that can offer salaries that are just as good, and lower living expenses. I know an officer with Richland PD (SE Washington) that got recruited from Seattle. His first year with Richland, he made over $50,000 in a community where a three bedroom, two bath house sells for maybe 1/3 of the price in Seattle.

                    Boyd Bryant, one of our regular editorial contributors, is a sergeant with a Washington police department. His most recent article is here, and there is a link to his e-mail address at the bottom, in his bio. You might communicate with him directly and see what insight he might have.
                    Tim Dees, now writing as a plain old forum member, his superpowers lost to an encounter with gold kryptonite.

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                    • #11
                      SinePari. Yes, I will take those three into account. Particularly the third, as I see that as my biggest barrier at this time.

                      SlowDownThere: How very interesting. I never even stopped to consider how different one police agency would be from another. I mean don't get me wrong, I recognized that there would be a world of difference between most any federal agency and most any state/local agency, but it never struck me that the type of work would be so different. Now I will have even more to try to research about the departments, to see what they all do. Any idea where I can find that kind of information?

                      Tim Dees: OK, so the academy thing isn't so much of a worry. That explains why there are so many agencies that don't accept new hires, and only take lateral moves. It seems like the few more desperate departments who need people more take on new recruits (SPD, etc) and they work there for a while and, some leave for lateral moves to quiteter areas. At least, those who want to. That makes a bit more sense to me.

                      Now as for the differences in agencies. You know, I have been so dreamy in the thought of joining any agency, understanding that everyone starts off at patrol, that I haven't even thought beyond patrol. Quite frankly, I haven't even really stopped to consider that there may be something beyond that.

                      And true, it makes sense that the larger the agency the less control you have as to what area you would be in. As a result I guess that I would have to restrict myself to county or city departments, just so I would know the general area. It isn't that I want to be near Whidbey Island, so much as NOT in Eastern Washington. Also bow ties... I could handle them more than the really light blue uniforms. Oh well, go figure. I'd endure both for the job.

                      I guess that my attraction to the SPD is growing a bit more.

                      Thank you so very much. There is so much more to the possibilities that I had never even stopped to think, as they relate to the job. I had been focusing almost entirely on simply getting it, or preparing to get it, rather. Thank you.

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                      • #12
                        Just keep in mind there are a lot more agencies in Washington than those two. Chances are (and don't take offense to this) you probably won't get in on your first try to WSP or Seattle. Take as many tests as you can, and get your background where it needs to be.

                        Also, you might want to take a look in California. EVERYONE is hiring!

                        Good luck bro.
                        -Stay safe

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                        • #13
                          Go to the "agencies" directory on the officer.com homepage and look through all of the links to Washington depts.
                          Whitechapel - Hate Creation

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                          • #14
                            J Man... yes, but while I could maybe tolerate Oregon, I don't know that I could handle living in California.

                            SinePari - I should have noticed that agencies link earlier. Holy crow, that will be helpful. Thanks!

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                            • #15
                              Tim Dees: Now that I have taken time to finish that article I must say that I am very glad that you gave me the URL, as it has been a real source of encouragement. While I will be glad to get out of IT work, I am glad that my IT skills will be something that a department may appreciate.
                              Last edited by Windaria; 08-20-2006, 11:29 AM.

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