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  • Joining local PD/Sheriff Department with JD?

    I'm in several fed 1811 job processes. But I've started looking at local jobs (since it seems getting on as an 1811 is basically 100% a game of chance).

    I know a JD won't really help me. But I'm more worried about whether it would hurt me. Are departments going to look at my degree negatively? I could see why it would look strange....just curious if anyone knows anyone in a similar situation.

    Thank you1

  • #2
    Some will, some won’t.

    There is a hiring philosophy about “overqualified” individuals, that someone overeducated or otherwise over qualified will get bored and leave or move on as soon as a better opportunity presents itself.

    There are departments with officers with advanced degrees, and I know one ADA who used to be a cop, got his JD and became a prosecutor but still holds a reserve commission with his old department.
    Last edited by tanksoldier; 10-25-2020, 01:48 PM.
    "I am a Soldier. I fight where I'm told and I win where I fight." -- GEN George S. Patton, Jr.

    "With a brother on my left and a sister on my right, we face…. We face what no one should face. We face, so no one else would face. We are in the face of Death." -- Holli Peet

    Comment


    • big_bob_69
      big_bob_69 commented
      Editing a comment
      The main PD I’m looking at offers pay incentives for bachelors degrees, so I’m hoping they’re “nerd” friendly.

  • #3
    Here's what you may run into-

    In a lot of agencies, the brass love guys who have law degrees. It's like having their own in-house lawyer they can turn to whenever they need an instant legal opinion on something. They may particularly look to you for opinions in IA situations (arrest, search & seizure, use of force). The problem is, like a rookie cop who has the education (academy) without a lot of experience to apply that education to, you have yet to understand what works and what doesn't. As a result, you might start giving legal opinions that appear sound on paper but in practicality are not feasable.

    Now, you will be a bottom of the food chain officer or deputy who will have been artificially promoted to command level by virtue of the fact that the brass is now coming to you for legal direction and then converting your direction into their orders or policy. It won't happen every day, but it will happen. The brass will take the position that Big Bob said it and he has a law degree, so his words must be gold. OTOH, if you lack sufficient legal or police experience to give advice that is practical or workable in law enforcement situations, the troops will take the position that Big Bob may know the law but he doesn't know law enforcement well enough to apply it appropriately and is screwing us. Behind you back, your peers may mockingly refer to you as Commander Big Bob, or Big Bob Says No.

    Should this happen, you need to make sure the brass are very judicious in seeking your advice or telling others where it came from. Otherwise, you will be labeled as the Golden Boy by your co-workers and may not have their full support.

    Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

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    • #4
      I've worked with a handful of LEOs who had JDs. Only one had ever actually practiced law; most were dudes who graduated law school and either didn't take the bar exam, or never passed it.

      I remember the era when having a bachelors degree was seen as a negative, at least in some circles. There was a bias about hiring 'educated idiots' and pride in graduating from the School of Hard Knocks, not some liberal public university. That mindset seems to have lessened in the last generation or two, but still exists in certain corners.

      I don't think having a JD is a disqualifier in anyway, but I do think some on the hiring panel might quietly wonder, "why isn't this candidate pursuing a six figure job at a law firm, with tassel loafers and country club membership?" You'll just have to persuade them that wasn't for you, and you can handle stepping in the blood and teeth on the asphalt...



      What does not kill you will likely try again.

      Comment


      • big_bob_69
        big_bob_69 commented
        Editing a comment
        I passed the bar and everything. Just not interested in doing it anymore. Hoping that being a giant Irish idiot is enough proof to show that I should obviously be a cop instead.

    • #5
      Originally posted by big_bob_69 View Post
      I'm in several fed 1811 job processes. But I've started looking at local jobs (since it seems getting on as an 1811 is basically 100% a game of chance).

      I know a JD won't really help me. But I'm more worried about whether it would hurt me. Are departments going to look at my degree negatively? I could see why it would look strange....just curious if anyone knows anyone in a similar situation.

      Thank you1
      Are you going to jump ship as soon as an 1811 opportunity materializes?

      That's going to be a local agency's biggest concern. With your educational background and multiple fed applications, they must realize that there's a very good chance that you'll move on at the first opportunity. Then they're out all the hiring and training expenses.

      Comment


      • big_bob_69
        big_bob_69 commented
        Editing a comment
        Not necessarily. Big upside of local PD is staying home. Secret Service/FBI would likely place me in NYC/LA/SF. I think I’d definitely take the PD at this point since I’ve got two tiny little terrors at home.

      • 9L81
        9L81 commented
        Editing a comment
        When I was hired as a local I was in the process with 2 departments at the time. The first was a sheriff's office with lower pay and a bigger commute. I was about 4 months ahead in their process. During the background I was asked twice about the other department. I told them I had run into nothing but hiring freezes up to that point and wasn't going to put my eggs in one basket but told them whoever extended the offer first, I would go with. As soon as the other department got to my background the SO got cold feet. Asked again and I again said they would be my choice if they offered the job first. That is how I felt too. I considered them to both have their adavanges and we're equal to me. Yeah they were a commute and yeah they didn't pay as well but it was a bigger department with more opportunity and imo a better area to work. The SO was unconvinced by me or believed that they were not an equal offer to the PD I was eventually hired by. The SO finally just stopped my background despite the fact they were still months ahead in the process. So I went with the PD who did eventually offer me a job.

        I could see a local agency acting similarly if they felt the federal agency's were the better fit or the more attractive offer to someone like you. In your case the ability to avoid moving is probably your biggest factor in staying local but as mentioned how long might that keep you around. Psych screening will be trying to find answers to these kinds of questions so of you do apply locally you will just have to see how that all works out.

    • #6
      Lots of good stuff so far. Thanks everyone.

      Comment


      • #7
        Have you passed the bar? If yes, do you have experience in criminal law?



        Comment


        • big_bob_69
          big_bob_69 commented
          Editing a comment
          Yes, I’ve passed the bar. No real criminal experience.

        • Winter_Patriot
          Winter_Patriot commented
          Editing a comment
          I think a law degree without legal experience is a boost, but you're going to get far more mileage with either prosecution experience or civil trial experience. Criminal defense may make it hard to break into law enforcement. I had obstacles when applying with 2-3 years of criminal defense on my resume. I made the switch to prosecution and started getting some interviews, but no offers. It wasn't until I had three years of experience on the prosecution end where I was actually getting law enforcement offers.

      • #8
        Bigger question: Can you attend and pass an academy without trying to insert your limited knowledge of the Law? Can you work in the field without trying to insert your interpretation of the law? Will you be able to do the job, being told by others how to write a report, and being told you don’t have the chops?
        Now go home and get your shine box!

        Comment


        • big_bob_69
          big_bob_69 commented
          Editing a comment
          Yep, I generally don't mention I'm an attorney since it's pretty much never relevant and generally only leads to people asking me "questions" about their child support problems.

        • Winter_Patriot
          Winter_Patriot commented
          Editing a comment
          One of my prosecutor colleagues become a police officer. He likened it to being a lawyer, but only have half a second to make a decision. I had a panel interview recently with a uniformed police agency. I read the officer's pocket manual to prepare. I was actually surprised at how little I knew about the practical, on the street aspect of the law. You learn about Terry stops in law school and rehash it again for the bar, but lawyers rarely ever have to think of how it practically applies, from the perspective of a law enforcement officer.

      • #9
        PM me if you want my take as someone in this situation

        Comment


        • #10
          Went to law school while on the job in the NYC Courts. Never made a big deal of it, bu during the Sean Combs trial and Dem convention in ‘04 had a lot of fun using my degree. It is good to have and your job experience will be extremely handy when you do pull the plug and practice full time.

          Comment


          • #11
            This is a second career for me. I had a doctorate when I was hired. My educational background did not hinder my hiring prospects in this field. I was asked during the Chief's interview if I planned to go federal. I honestly told him no. I love my job, and I have no regrets, but I'd be lying if I said the thought of going federal hadn't crossed my mind lately with the current political climate. I know one former prosecutor who is now a police officer. I know another prosecutor who became a cop, and then went back to being a prosecutor.
            "Respect is earned. Honesty is appreciated. Trust is gained. Loyalty is returned."

            Comment


            • #12
              I know one guy that was a cop, got his JD, became an attorney, and got hired on as PT police officer so he could maintain his certification and keep a foot in the game. After a few years of this, he started his own practice and the money became good enough that he was OK leaving police work behind.

              Educational incentives are a real deal, and worth researching. Several PDs & SOs around here offer increasing kickers for having associate, bachelor, or master degrees. One department I know of also offers an additional incentive for JD, MD/DO, or PhD.

              Comment


              • #13
                A friend of mine was a paramedic, she ended up getting hired and working as a deputy sheriff.
                She grew bored with that and went to law school.

                She worked as an attorney for a few years while keeping her paramedic certification up by working part time.

                She grew shaded with the law and went back to full time paramedic.

                She is a law instructor for a local police academy & keeps ALL of her certifications up to date by being a reserve police officer , a consulting attorney for several firms and working full time as a paramedic
                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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                • #14
                  Originally posted by big_bob_69 View Post
                  I'm in several fed 1811 job processes. But I've started looking at local jobs (since it seems getting on as an 1811 is basically 100% a game of chance).

                  I know a JD won't really help me. But I'm more worried about whether it would hurt me. Are departments going to look at my degree negatively? I could see why it would look strange....just curious if anyone knows anyone in a similar situation.

                  Thank you1
                  I think it will help you depending on the agency and your specific experience, but there's an element of luck involved. I've been a lawyer for seven years now, three years as criminal defense and four years as a prosecutor in an urban office. I've applied to probably 75 vacancies in the last two years now. I've had a handful of conditional federal offers, but zero 1811 interview offers. My experience has been mixed. Local departments and federal uniformed agencies have been pretty interested, although I think the POST/PEB test scores are probably what mattered most to them.

                  I had the most traction with U.S. Probation Offices -- enough to get several second/third round interviews. That may be because I spent a couple years prosecuting civil commitment, mental health, and drug cases, which has some overlap with probation work. At most the interviews, the law degree became a slight liability but an overall plus. Being comfortable doing legal research, writing long memos, and being in the courtroom -- that all can help you stand out in the state/federal probation context.

                  The panels almost always asked me 1) are you using this position to move onto an 1811 job, 2) would you find the job intellectually boring, 3) how well would you adjust to being in the field, after spending 95% of your law career at a desk, 4) how would you interact with prosecutors/judges who didn't agree with your positions?

                  Comment

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