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How did you go about becoming a Police Officer?


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  • How did you go about becoming a Police Officer?

    Just out of curiousity how did you go about becoming a Police Officer? Just go to the Academy and applied once you were 21? (assuming the area you lived in did not require college degrees) Got a 2 or 4 year degree in LE? Came out of the military and went from there?

    I'm 18 years old, will be 19 in october and I plan on going to a Police Academy in January next year. I know in PA I have to wait once I'm 21 to become a LEO and am not sure what else I will do to better prepare myself.

  • #2
    I went to the military first, then college, then worked a few years overseas as a security contractor. When I returned to the States I started applying with about five agencies. From there it's written tests, physical tests, etc. I accepted an offer, went to academy, and...ta-dah!

    I think a military background will help you out quite a bit. Not only will it help you get your foot in the door you will have some experiences and knowledge that will help you in the academy and on the job.
    I miss you, Dave.


    • #3
      Graduated high school, went to college on an ROTC scholarship, graduated, became an officer in the military, went to flight school then the fleet, got out, applied at a local police dept, was hired then went to the Academy. Now i'm on patrol. Married with two kids along the way.


      • #4
        Graduated high school at 18, screwed around for a few years and got about 50 credit hours under my belt, then wen't to the academy. I turned 21 about halfway through the academy, started the hiring process with my current department last November, and got hired in April.


        • #5
          I started out as a Park Ranger, in 1972, I guess. Went to the Academy when it was 120 Hr. course then. Didn't have arrest powers until I attended the Academy, which was a new concept in 1972.

          Then I went to work in Athens, GA, in 1977, as a patrol officer, got promoted to detective, worked dope for most of my careeer there. Had a second bout with open heart surgery in 1987, my wife graduated from her PhD program and got a job in Raleigh, NC. Went there, attended grad school. Stayed out of LE for 8 years or so, teaching and attending school.

          My wife died in 1995, and I went job looking back in GA. Got hired on as a jailer in 1996, promoted to Chief Deputy on Jan 1, 1997.

          Been here 11 years or so. Love it.
          "Say hal-lo to my leetle frahnd!"


          • #6
            I filled out an application, went through the testing process and got hired in 1988. The department put me through the academy. At that time, there were dozens of applicants for each open position, so there was no good reason why anyone would self-sponsor. Out of the five nonaffiliates who started with my class, two washed out for report writing (one was damned near illiterate), one quit because she was scared of guns, and two graduated. Only one of those could get hired anywhere, and was fired within a couple years because he was "that guy".

            We are back to the times when there is no reason to self-sponsor. There are lots of openings, and a dearth of qualified applicants.
            Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. - Ronald Reagan

            I don't think It'll happen in the US because we don't trust our government. We are a country of skeptics, raised by skeptics, founded by skeptics. - Amaroq


            • #7
              Originally posted by Pythias View Post
              am not sure what else I will do to better prepare myself.
              Two simple things alot of folks mess up with. Keep a clean record and get good grades in school.


              • #8
                I became a reserve at the department where I wanted to work. Worked just about every Friday night as second man in a car for about a year (for free). Got to be pretty well-liked and flew through the testing process when it finally came up. Probably 25% of our officers started out that way.


                • #9
                  I finished high school, in 2000, and immediately went (that summer) to college. While in college I cross-enrolled at Southern Arkansas University where I ended up getting a Bachelor of Science degree, and South Arkansas Community College where I went at night to become a paramedic. I graduated from both institutions in Dec. 2003, and I became a science teacher in Jan. 2004. Also, while I was in college (2002), I joined a volunteer fire department which I'm still a memeber of today. With my first teaching job, I found myself working part-time as a paramedic and then full-time that summer. I quickly began to tire of it, and so when I took my next teaching job I moved away with no thoughts of ever working on an ambulance again. (It really doesn't appeal to me at all. I was premed back in college so I only did it to get some medical experience. I got tired of healthcare thus I got into teaching.) I spent a year teaching in Very Small Town, Arkansas, and then I began working on a Master of Education degree in public school administration. I wanted to become a principal and later superintendent. I got another job at a large junior high school teaching science again, and I quickly grew to hate it. It was ran in a poor fashion, the students had no self-discipline (and not just for the age group), and few parents cared about anything. It gave me a new perspective of where education is going in America (straight down the pipes) so I chose to leave the field entirely. I used a contract loophole to quit in Nov. 2005, and I returned to ambulance work finding a very fortunate job which only required me to work six days a month but still earning 70% of what I had been making teaching.

                  I had always joked that when I quit teaching I'd go back to school and become an accountant. I took this to heart and decided in order to do so I needed a job where I'd have enough off time and study time to succeed. I then took a job as a dispatcher and jail officer (although I almost never did jail work) to give me the time needed for my studies. (With the radio background I'd had and my fast typing dispatching was a breeze.) To back up, I had wanted for several years to become a reserve deputy with the agency (I kind of still want just that), and I was told that I could do so. My shift was a "swinging 12," and it became to burdensome towards the end of 2006 to continue studying accounting, commuting back and forth to SAU each day, and I was tired of getting paid an extremely small wage.

                  Becoming interested in law enforcement (primarily investigations), I applied to a city police department for a full time entry level patrol position, and in Dec. 2006 I was hired with them saying that with my education and whatever they saw in me during the interview that I could quickly move up into detectives or whatever I wanted thus I took the job. I was in field training for three weeks, sent to the police academy for 12 weeks, and then I was out on my own. I enjoy it immensely despite the fact that it relates to very little that I have ever prepared myself for. Studying criminal justice in college is mostly irrelevant to police work. I took one such course as an elective principally because it was offered at the right time of day. You'll learn all you need to know in the academy and from your own studies. Get a degree in something worthwhile. I really did nothing make myself appear to be a more credible applicant. I'd had some emergency service and miniscule law enforcement experience. Whether that helped me get the job or not I'm not sure, however, it has helped me do the job. Having worked on the ambulance, I've never been surprised by what I've seen in police work (even though I've not done it long), and I was used to writing reports which I'm very meticulous about. Dispatching here (may be different where you're at) gave me a lot of insight into what cops actually do so I didn't have to learn a lot in that regard. I'm an eloquent radio user (or so my dispatchers tell me lol), and I could tell you more about warrants, orders of protection, civil papers, etc. than a lot of cops that have been on the job for decades simply because my old job had me working as a warrant officer of sorts.

                  In summary, I became a police officer because I took a police related job on a whim. It grew to interest me, I quit working towards my second degree in accounting, and here I sit...waiting to start my night shift.

                  If I were you, I would go to college first and foremost. The rest can wait. An education provides you with a lot of opportunities and an entirely new outlook on things. I find it odd that you evidently have to put yourself through a police training academy. If college just simply isn't your thing then do whatever interests you rather it be an EMT, a tailor, a plumber, a street sweeper, or whatever comes to your mind.

                  Good luck with your chosen path.


                  • #10
                    Thanks for all the information guys. Right now I'm working part-time installing windows, which I like, and working with horses. I have a question though, when I eventually get hired somewhere will I go through their Police academy as well eventhough I went to Alleghanys or does it depend on where I get hired or will I go to another academy no matter what?


                    • #11
                      I tried twice to get on with my hometown PD. I wasn't certified, and was pretty young. I had some questionable driving and credit on my record. All of the above kept me from getting in. Plus there was a rumor of someone there not liking my Father (who worked in LE a looong time ago), but whatever the case, it worked out for the best.

                      I was pretty mad at the world at this point (remember, young) and decided to not be a cop and work for the family business. Ends up I hated the family business (I cannot work in an office all day, 5 days a week). My mom found an advertisement in the paper for a night police academy at a college I had attended previously. I had taken some LE classes out there, and had liked all the professors. So I enrolled, got in, spent 3 nights a week for a year out there, and got my certification.

                      I also saw a flier on the bulletin board at the academy for a job that piqued my interest. Just so happened the wife and I were headed to a wedding in the area around that time. So I checked in, liked the area, the PD, the people I talked to, and showed up at their next test for applicants. Passed the test, did the interviews, the background etc. Got lucky or blessed or something and was hired on (albeit 6 months after the test.)


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Pythias View Post
                        Thanks for all the information guys. Right now I'm working part-time installing windows, which I like, and working with horses. I have a question though, when I eventually get hired somewhere will I go through their Police academy as well eventhough I went to Alleghanys or does it depend on where I get hired or will I go to another academy no matter what?
                        You may or you may not. Here, the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy is the state funded institution that trains law enforcement officers for every jurisdiction with the exception of the state police, parole and probation, and Little Rock P.D. Each of these agencies has their own respective academy, and I believe game and fish has a supplemental academy. Also, there is a private academy, but, like the public one (ALETA), you have to be hired and sponsored by some law enforcement agency.

                        In Arkansas, once you're certified you can move around from agency to agency without having to go back through the academy except of course when going to work for the state police, probation and parole, Little Rock, or game and fish. Also, if you're from out of state, you generally need to take only a refresher course within a year of hire as Arkansas honors most other state's police certifications (usually they're better anyway).

                        Why am I telling you this? Well, probably as an in illustration. Here, the police certificate is reciprocal so no one needs to re-attend the academy unless the certificate has expired or they're going to work at one of the specialized agencies.


                        • #13
                          Thanks for all the information, you have been very helpful. Seems like a majority of you were hired then put through the Academy so ti seems putting myself through an academy for $4k may not seem like the best thing to do at this point in time.


                          • #14
                            High School, College, Security Officer, Police academy.
                            John 3:16


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