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  • Looking for Ways to Improve before Sending Applications

    I know there are so many of these posted all the time, so I'll make this as quick and easy as possible. I'm currently in corrections, planning to start applying for officer positions sometime around this summer. Just looking for some advice moving forward and what I can do to improve myself in that time.

    -Currently a detention deputy at a semi-rural county in SE Minnesota. 5mos part-time transporting inmates before I was promoted to full-time last May. Will have been a full time jailer for just over a year if I start applying this coming summer. While still on probation, I used personal knowledge to revamp FTO assessments, which are presently being used by my administration at all levels of jail training.
    -4 year degree in TESOL (No, I do not speak another language), my minor was essentially the philosophy/morality of violence/war. Decided teaching wasn't for me and have found myself fitting in much better in law enforcement.
    -Pretty squeaky clean background, been pulled over occasionally but nothing worse than a $25 seatbelt ticket that was dismissed before I paid it.
    -History of community service, including AmeriCoprs (Habitat for Humanity), Big Brothers Big Sisters, Circle K, troop leader for Girl Scouts, and volunteering at the local humane society. These were mostly during college, with the most recent one being AmeriCorps during summer 2017.

    So now you're thinking, "Why are you bothering us with his, yes you can certainly qualify for positions". Here's my concerns, and what you wonderful people might be able to help me with.

    -If asked what my greatest weakness is right now, I would say use of force. Either by dumb luck or some kind of ability to mitigate conflict, I don't get into many use of force incidents at work. No, I don't run from them and I don't avoid them, but that's just the fact of the matter. Do any of you have any advice for someone who definitely needs improvement in that area, but doesn't live in an urban area where they can get much martial arts training? I frequent the gym and don't think I'll have any problem passing physical qualifications, but there's a big difference between doing pushups and controlling another human being.
    -Vision: My vision isn't spectacular, but it is VERY NEARLY correctable to 20/20. Many departments require 20/20 correctable vision. My question is whether I should spend the time/money on Lasik before applying anywhere, or is it not that big of a deal? I want to get the surgery eventually, but we're short-staffed right now so finding the time to get it done would be a bit of a hassle for both me and my team.
    -My job at the jail is my first and only full-time job, everything prior to that has been part-time things that I could do while going to school/ student teaching (waitressing, retail, etc.). Do you think I should wait longer in this position before applying?
    -I haven't been doing much volunteer work since I graduated, mostly because student teaching and work took up basically all of my free time for a while. Would it be advisable to pick that up again? I don't have a very stable schedule at this time (lots of compulsory overtime and more on the way), but I could probably squeeze something in.
    -I'm not a certified law-enforcement officer and have not been to any kind of Skills/Academy, how bad is that for my chances? Trying to avoid paying for Skills here in Minnesota since I don't plan on staying in-state, but I'm willing to do what it takes to get the right job.
    -I'm planning on applying to Des Moines, IA and Madison, WI for sure, any suggestions for similarly-sized cities would be great. Willing to move around some.

    Let me know anything else that might stand out to you as something I could improve on. I have these months ahead of me to get myself in order and I'd like to make the most of it.

  • #2
    Being well rounded, in my opinion, is the best thing you can do. You already work as a detention deputy which is a plus.

    Greatest Weakness: Be objective and turn it into a positive. The Academy will teach you control tactics. Being able to talk your way out of a fight is not a weakness, that's good sense. And a good skill to have. So long as when it's time to go hands on, you can elevate to that level. Martial arts training may help if you feel the need but otherwise keep yourself in good overall condition physically.

    Vision: LASIK is nice and guess what? A lot of agencies will cover part of the cost if you have it done. I wear glasses myself and would love to do the eye laser surgery. So long as you can pass the vision test for the physical, you're good.

    Jail Job: Keep working it. It's relevant experience.

    Volunteer Work: What you can do is what you can do. No one expects you to be St. Theresa's reincarnation.

    Certification: This is what the Academy is for. Don't sweat that.

    Locales: That's up to you. Lager cities are generally more hiring opportunities but it's how much you're willing to move. Chicago PD is always hiring if you're willing to come that far.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Gribbles View Post
      I know there are so many of these posted all the time, so I'll make this as quick and easy as possible. I'm currently in corrections, planning to start applying for officer positions sometime around this summer. Just looking for some advice moving forward and what I can do to improve myself in that time.

      -Currently a detention deputy at a semi-rural county in SE Minnesota. 5mos part-time transporting inmates before I was promoted to full-time last May. Will have been a full time jailer for just over a year if I start applying this coming summer. While still on probation, I used personal knowledge to revamp FTO assessments, which are presently being used by my administration at all levels of jail training.
      -4 year degree in TESOL (No, I do not speak another language), my minor was essentially the philosophy/morality of violence/war. Decided teaching wasn't for me and have found myself fitting in much better in law enforcement.
      -Pretty squeaky clean background, been pulled over occasionally but nothing worse than a $25 seatbelt ticket that was dismissed before I paid it.
      -History of community service, including AmeriCoprs (Habitat for Humanity), Big Brothers Big Sisters, Circle K, troop leader for Girl Scouts, and volunteering at the local humane society. These were mostly during college, with the most recent one being AmeriCorps during summer 2017.

      So now you're thinking, "Why are you bothering us with his, yes you can certainly qualify for positions". Here's my concerns, and what you wonderful people might be able to help me with.

      -If asked what my greatest weakness is right now, I would say use of force. Either by dumb luck or some kind of ability to mitigate conflict, I don't get into many use of force incidents at work. No, I don't run from them and I don't avoid them, but that's just the fact of the matter. Do any of you have any advice for someone who definitely needs improvement in that area, but doesn't live in an urban area where they can get much martial arts training? I frequent the gym and don't think I'll have any problem passing physical qualifications, but there's a big difference between doing pushups and controlling another human being.
      -Vision: My vision isn't spectacular, but it is VERY NEARLY correctable to 20/20. Many departments require 20/20 correctable vision. My question is whether I should spend the time/money on Lasik before applying anywhere, or is it not that big of a deal? I want to get the surgery eventually, but we're short-staffed right now so finding the time to get it done would be a bit of a hassle for both me and my team.
      -My job at the jail is my first and only full-time job, everything prior to that has been part-time things that I could do while going to school/ student teaching (waitressing, retail, etc.). Do you think I should wait longer in this position before applying?
      -I haven't been doing much volunteer work since I graduated, mostly because student teaching and work took up basically all of my free time for a while. Would it be advisable to pick that up again? I don't have a very stable schedule at this time (lots of compulsory overtime and more on the way), but I could probably squeeze something in.
      -I'm not a certified law-enforcement officer and have not been to any kind of Skills/Academy, how bad is that for my chances? Trying to avoid paying for Skills here in Minnesota since I don't plan on staying in-state, but I'm willing to do what it takes to get the right job.
      -I'm planning on applying to Des Moines, IA and Madison, WI for sure, any suggestions for similarly-sized cities would be great. Willing to move around some.

      Let me know anything else that might stand out to you as something I could improve on. I have these months ahead of me to get myself in order and I'd like to make the most of it.
      There are a LOT of agencies in Iowa that are TESTING right now. Cedar Rapids, Davenport and a bunch of smaller counties and cities have put out postings .
      Iowa DPS also

      Do a google search on Iowa Law enforcement jobs

      Read this..................... especially section 2.1(9) If you don't meet that standard ...you won't be accepted to any agency in the state of Iowa as the Law Enforcement Academy WILL NOT accept you and would not certify you
      https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/iac/...0-2016.501.pdf
      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

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by NW121 View Post
        Being well rounded, in my opinion, is the best thing you can do. You already work as a detention deputy which is a plus.

        Greatest Weakness: Be objective and turn it into a positive. The Academy will teach you control tactics. Being able to talk your way out of a fight is not a weakness, that's good sense. And a good skill to have. So long as when it's time to go hands on, you can elevate to that level. Martial arts training may help if you feel the need but otherwise keep yourself in good overall condition physically.

        Vision: LASIK is nice and guess what? A lot of agencies will cover part of the cost if you have it done. I wear glasses myself and would love to do the eye laser surgery. So long as you can pass the vision test for the physical, you're good.

        Jail Job: Keep working it. It's relevant experience.

        Volunteer Work: What you can do is what you can do. No one expects you to be St. Theresa's reincarnation.

        Certification: This is what the Academy is for. Don't sweat that.

        Locales: That's up to you. Lager cities are generally more hiring opportunities but it's how much you're willing to move. Chicago PD is always hiring if you're willing to come that far.
        Thank you for such a thorough response!

        Vision Followup: I'll have about 25%-30% covered though the county right now. I'm more wondering what kinds of vision tests are administered so I can whether or not I can pass them now or if I'll need to upgrade my vision prior to applying. Any insights would be phenomenal.

        Locale: I actually grew up north of Chicago in Illinois, moved up to Minnesota for school (gotta love that 'ole Illinois taxation, haha). Might not be opposed to going back to Illinois, but when I looked at Chicago PD's recruitment information, it looked like they only do an academy class every two years or so and I don't think they're having one soon. I also wasn't sure if I wanted to actually be in CPD in the first place, but I also don't know much about it. Looks like you're an IL native, if you've got the time, I would love some insight into your experience.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Iowa #1603 View Post

          There are a LOT of agencies in Iowa that are TESTING right now. Cedar Rapids, Davenport and a bunch of smaller counties and cities have put out postings .
          Iowa DPS also

          Do a google search on Iowa Law enforcement jobs

          Read this..................... especially section 2.1(9) If you don't meet that standard ...you won't be accepted to any agency in the state of Iowa as the Law Enforcement Academy WILL NOT accept you and would not certify you
          https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/iac/...0-2016.501.pdf
          Thank you for the link! Invaluable information, I'll be reading over it to see what I can find out.

          I know that lots of places are testing now, but I can't in good consciousness leave my team right now. We're in the hole hiring-wise and if I left too (it being a relatively small facility) they'd be having some seriously hard times. That being said, I'll be looking into these agencies to learn what I can from how they lay out their hiring process, so thank you for sharing.

          Comment


          • #6
            One of the first questions that came to my mind, when reading your post, was if you are in Minnesota now, why do you want to leave here. Further reading, however, shows that you came here for school, obtained a degree not related to law enforcement and don't want to continue living in Minnesota long term. I totally get it. I would suggest that you give some thought to the question, that might ultimately come up wherever you do apply, "Why do you want to work for us?"

            As far as neighboring Wisconsin goes, I don't know how many agencies there hire and then send their new hires away to training within the required 24 months (or, what ever it is now.). I do know that some time back, when we were fat with applicants in Minnesota, some would ultimately migrate across the border and get hired. Some stayed and other used it as a springboard to return to Minnesota. Because of that phenomenon at any number of places, some agencies will try to "weed out" the ones attempting to use them as a springboard and ask about it. At the end of the day, some agencies still end up being revolving doors.

            You mind find that the majority of Wisconsin applicants these days have paid for their pre-service training on their own dime, like we do in Minnesota. One way to find that out is to post in the Wisconsin sub-forum here. It is also possible that the Wisconsin Department of Justice has that information on their website.

            Do you live in the county you work for? Do they have a volunteer Sheriff's Reserve Unit or something similar? I know you said you are busy, but volunteering in an aspect that gets you out in the car might not be a bad thing. I will say, however, that reserve programs can vary a LOT from place to place. There is also something to be said for intentionally volunteering at an organization other than the one you currently work for. Sort of like avoiding institutional in-breeding, if you will.

            I don't know anything about the Rochester Police Reserve unit or, if they even have one. I will say, however, that Rochester PD and Olmsted County SO are sort of the two "big boys" down your way.

            There are some other things that may, or may not, be helpful, depending on who you apply with. For example, some places love having folks that have their EMT certification. I probably don't need to tell you that medicals, in very rural SE Minnesota, happen. Sure, you can get Mayo One going, but someone needs to do what they can until Gold Cross or whomever gets there.

            Other agencies could care less. I can think of an agency near me that doesn't send ANY of their officers to stay current in First Responder or anything. Their take on it is you need it to become eligible to be licensed, but after that, forget about it!

            I would say that a second language is always a plus in my mind. Some agencies feel that way and some don't, however.

            I wouldn't necessarily discount the value of getting some additional college credits in law enforcement or criminal justice. I know that you have a degree already, but it is in something else. Some agencies will pay you more for having a job related degree. On the other hand, not all will, so it, too, is sort of a gamble.

            As far as leaving your agency short-staffed, well, at least from my perspective, there is never a great time. Someone is always going to be coming and going. Agencies are struggling to get and keep staff. I admire your concern, but you also have to do what is best for you.

            Finally, do some ride-alongs at agencies that interest you, if they allow them. You could make a day, or an over night, over traveling to Madison, looking around the city, ride along with patrol and see if you really do want to work there. Same thing with Des Moines. Not all agencies are exactly the same. I have even known some perspective applicants to do a "sit along" in the Communications Center and learn a lot about an area and agency from spending time there.

            Do your homework, go to the public libraries in those cities, read the local newspaper. Sometimes, even by listening to the local radio stations, as in AM/FM and watching the local television broadcasts will yield a lot of helpful information. In a day and age when many folks get their information from Facebook and Twitter, sometimes the "old school" ways will result in some good information, too.

            Good luck in your future!

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Gribbles View Post

              Thank you for the link! Invaluable information, I'll be reading over it to see what I can find out.

              I know that lots of places are testing now, but I can't in good consciousness leave my team right now. We're in the hole hiring-wise and if I left too (it being a relatively small facility) they'd be having some seriously hard times. That being said, I'll be looking into these agencies to learn what I can from how they lay out their hiring process, so thank you for sharing.
              And They always will be in the hole hiring wise. That is a fact of life everywhere in Law Enforcement today. You really have to look out for yourself. Trust me ..........the agency will move on without you like you never existed

              I specifically said TESTING , not necessarily HIRING right now. Testing in Iowa usually means 5 to 6 months down the line they will be hiring
              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

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Gribbles View Post

                Thank you for such a thorough response!

                Vision Followup: I'll have about 25%-30% covered though the county right now. I'm more wondering what kinds of vision tests are administered so I can whether or not I can pass them now or if I'll need to upgrade my vision prior to applying. Any insights would be phenomenal.

                Locale: I actually grew up north of Chicago in Illinois, moved up to Minnesota for school (gotta love that 'ole Illinois taxation, haha). Might not be opposed to going back to Illinois, but when I looked at Chicago PD's recruitment information, it looked like they only do an academy class every two years or so and I don't think they're having one soon. I also wasn't sure if I wanted to actually be in CPD in the first place, but I also don't know much about it. Looks like you're an IL native, if you've got the time, I would love some insight into your experience.
                Feel free to PM me. I grew up in the NW burbs and work as an LEO in IL too.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Jim1648 View Post
                  One of the first questions that came to my mind, when reading your post, was if you are in Minnesota now, why do you want to leave here. Further reading, however, shows that you came here for school, obtained a degree not related to law enforcement and don't want to continue living in Minnesota long term. I totally get it. I would suggest that you give some thought to the question, that might ultimately come up wherever you do apply, "Why do you want to work for us?"

                  As far as neighboring Wisconsin goes, I don't know how many agencies there hire and then send their new hires away to training within the required 24 months (or, what ever it is now.). I do know that some time back, when we were fat with applicants in Minnesota, some would ultimately migrate across the border and get hired. Some stayed and other used it as a springboard to return to Minnesota. Because of that phenomenon at any number of places, some agencies will try to "weed out" the ones attempting to use them as a springboard and ask about it. At the end of the day, some agencies still end up being revolving doors...
                  Hoh, boy! That's a great response. Thank you so much for taking the time to write all that out. Active people like you are what make forums like this such a great resource.

                  You're 100% right about not wanting to stay in Minnesota, partially because I'm not a native here to begin with and partially because the market is still incredibly saturated. There are people I know who are good workers, good at their jobs, lots of applicable experience, and they're working 2-3 part-time officer spots while sniffing up every tree for SOMEONE to give them a chance at a full-time spot. I would have no reason to want to come back here, unless by chance there was a fantastic opportunity for me somewhere. (Also, my own sheriff basically said to me, in the nicest way possible while in casual conversation, that he doesn't hire females for road deputy spots. So there's nothing for me in my own office other than corrections or dispatch.)

                  We don't have any reserves with my county and the city reserves are absolutely saturated by criminal justice students from the 3 colleges in the area. Additionally, jail staff is strictly not allowed to ride with road deputies. Somebody made a mistake once a few years back and we're all still paying for it. So, unfortunately, not a lot open for me int he immediate area and I'm a pretty long way from Rochester unfortunately. At least enough to make it difficult to get there for volunteering the nights I don't work. That being said, it's a great idea to get a ride along (if I can) in the areas I'm interested in. Might take a little finagling, but I figure at least getting a feel for the state and the area, how it might differ from mine, is a good start. Thanks for the suggestion! The best I'm probably going to be able to do without a POST license is probably ride alongs.

                  We are EMR certified every year, but getting EMT cert is another good idea. I looked around and the next one available in my area wouldn't be till late August. Maybe if things end up taking more time for me than I expected that's something I can use to dig in a little deeper.

                  You mentioned a second language. I only mentioned that because people usually assume that with a degree in TESOL I'm multi-lingual. On the subject, though, do you (or anyone) know of any online classes that might teach Spanish for LEOs in particular? Even on the chance I'm a jailer the rest of my life, there have been more than a few occasions that knowing some specific language would have been helpful.

                  Thank you, thank you, thank you again for such a thorough post. There was a lot of thought put into it ad a lot of really good, guiding ideas.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Iowa #1603 View Post

                    And They always will be in the hole hiring wise. That is a fact of life everywhere in Law Enforcement today. You really have to look out for yourself. Trust me ..........the agency will move on without you like you never existed

                    I specifically said TESTING , not necessarily HIRING right now. Testing in Iowa usually means 5 to 6 months down the line they will be hiring
                    You are more than correct! They certainly will move on when I leave, I promise don't think I'm some gift to god for simply sticking around, haha. I just know that certain people will have to bear a disproportionate load if I'm gone and I don't want to do that to them. It's a personal choice.

                    Fair clarification and one to keep in mind! Thank you!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Where I work, not using force and keeping paperwork off the sergeant's desk fast-tracks you for promotion.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        If a dept. requires your vision to be correctable to 20/20, that is what they mean. It is, or it isn't. Find another weakness besides "use of force." It is not something I want to hear as an interviewer, and you are probably are not going to be able to articulate something positive out of that when I press you.

                        Comment

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