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LEO with no Military Background?

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  • LEO with no Military Background?

    How important is a military background to being accepted into a police academy?

    I am a 24 y/o near-college graduate with no military experience, though I am fairly familiar with firearms. Obviously, I'll have to work in patrol, but my interest in Law Enforcement is a bit more on the "nerdy" side (I'm hoping to eventually work with forensics, CIS, etc.).

    Do most departments prefer/favor applicants with a military background, or is someone like me, a nerd with a Psych degree, going to have an even shot of getting into the academy?

  • #2
    Military experience isn't anywhere near as necessary as it once was. I'd say that 3/4 of my (small) department has no military experience. Departments are more often looking for clean backgrounds and life experience.

    Now, most departments probably still give points for military on their civil service exams, but more and more departments are also giving points for college degrees. it can be rather department-specific, so do your research.
    "He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
    -Friedrich Nietzsche

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    • #3
      Thanks for replying, Bing_Oh!

      Originally posted by Bing_Oh View Post
      Departments are more often looking for clean backgrounds and life experience.
      What, in your opinion, constitutes a reasonable amount of "life experience"?

      I've been working full-time since I was 18, and I'm currently working as a yard jockey/security guard at Amazon while I finish school. Again, I definitely don't have the life experience of those that served overseas, but I haven't been a deadbeat at any point in my life either.

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      • #4
        Through your work and personal history as an adult, have you resolved interpersonal conflicts without violence? Have you paid your bills? Can you relate to the community you may be serving?

        A good department will have a mix of prior service folks and those who come from other walks of life
        semper destravit

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        • #5
          I know hundreds of LEO's who have no military experience ..........MYSELF included .

          Actually when I started in the profession i the late 1970's very few cops were ex military.

          Like stated above most agencies like a mix of people with divergent backgrounds


          Originally posted by NaturalZero View Post

          What, in your opinion, constitutes a reasonable amount of "life experience"?

          r.
          Just what it says.......................experience in life.

          One of the best guys that ever worked for me had spent 20 yrs in retail sales. He could really sell ice cubes to an Eskimo. While he had to work hard to get over the "the customer is always right" mindset , he was great at gaining compliance from people.

          I had a number of ex and current farmers working for me............................hard working, understood work ethics, etc.

          One of the HARDEST guys I trained was a Marine Gunny......................................Hardest head & so intractable in his thinking .. He just couldn't "dial it down" to not demand that someone followed his orders without thinking. He had the skills and the leadership but really had a hard time transitioning between the two careers. He later became a Lieutenant in my agency.

          Originally posted by NaturalZero View Post
          Again, I definitely don't have the life experience of those that served overseas
          Not all that experience is "good experience" either.

          While the military is good ...combat experience isn't necessarily good training for many of the duties of a police officer. The careers are not really all that similar.

          Some of the same skill sets are used in both............"re training" an experienced combat solider to be a cop often requires toning them down quite a bit. What is really the best part of hiring military is the team mentality and the regimentation of the rank system .

          Since some people need to be told by notes in crayon .......Don't PM me with without prior permission. If you can't discuss the situation in the open forum ----it must not be that important

          My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS

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          • #6
            Originally posted by NaturalZero View Post
            What, in your opinion, constitutes a reasonable amount of "life experience"?

            I've been working full-time since I was 18, and I'm currently working as a yard jockey/security guard at Amazon while I finish school. Again, I definitely don't have the life experience of those that served overseas, but I haven't been a deadbeat at any point in my life either.
            As the other guys have said, it's really just a matter of being able to show that you're a responsible adult who is mentally-capable of doing the job. The job requires alot of maturity and independent thinking skills, which is limited if you're somebody who has lives in mom and dad's basement all their lives, never holding down a job, and leading a generally sheltered existence. Nobody without prior LE experience would be expected to just drop right into the job without training and adjustment, but prior life skills tend to make the chances of adjusting higher.

            Iowa explained it well...there are plenty of different "civilian" non-LE skills and experience that can benefit a new officer and plenty of military skills and experience that don't translate well at all. Some of the best LEO's I've worked with have had no military experience, while some of the worst have been ex-military...it's much more individual than anything, and a military background is no guarantee of success.
            "He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
            -Friedrich Nietzsche

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            • #7
              Most officers don't have any military experience.

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              • #8
                I can’t speak for local law enforcement but on the federal side a significant percentage of federal law enforcement officers/agents have military experience (at least in the agencies I have served in). My current office is about 40 percent prior military.
                “There’s a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.” - Steven Wright

                US Army MP (95B) 1992-1997
                DOJ Agent/ DHS Officer 1997 to Present

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                • #9
                  Military service can get you preference points in IL but so does a college degree. It's a leg up but it's not the end all be all of former experience. Our last new hire who was military didn't make it through FTO. It all varies by the individual.

                  And firearms proficiency, while good, isn't a real selling point until you're trying to join SWAT or another tactical team. In case you were worried about that aspect, since you mentioned it.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by NW121 View Post
                    And firearms proficiency, while good, isn't a real selling point until you're trying to join SWAT or another tactical team. In case you were worried about that aspect, since you mentioned it.
                    Yeah, that was another thing I was wondering about. I know the firearms coursework is only a small portion of the training, but I'm not sure how often people flunk out due to poor scores or weapon mishandling. It's just one of those things where I assume former-military will have an edge.

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                    • #11
                      Like others have said, prior service has its ups but so does a college degree. Departments are looking broad spectrum when hiring candidates.

                      As a prior service veteran and current cop - I can tell you its the individual drive to learn that sells themself to get hired and become proficient in the job - not their background whether its prior service, college graduate or prior Chick-fil-a cashier.

                      I went through the academy with some veterans that were garbage and they ultimately didn't cut it. Same for 4 year college grads. Do I think my attention to detail, discipline and pride in my work, organizational skills and uniform/vehicle appearance has paid off in my LE career thanks to my time in the Marines? Absolutely, but I also credit myself for keeping up with those traits. I was in the military with nasty, unorganized and lazy guys and I'm sure they only got worse after they went back to the civilian life.

                      Everyone, however has different experiences though. Anyone can be just as disciplined as their peer, regardless of background.

                      You'll be amazed by people who completely drop 20+ year careers to be a cop and they turn out better than a 25 year old guy who only ever wanted to wear the badge.

                      Individual experiences vary.
                      "There's no such thing as a bad beer.....its only less awesome beer...."

                      "Liberalism is a mental disorder" - Michael Savage

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