Police Officer Training
According to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the general job description of a police patrol officer is to enforce laws and ordinances, for the protection of life and property in their assigned area. Police officers receive assignments for the protection of a particular area, conducting investigations, and apprehending criminals. A law enforcement degree combined with training at a police academy will prepare you for the job.
Police Officers may also carry out more specialized tasks depending on their unique skills and knowledge. They must respond to calls for assistance from the dispatcher or as a result of directly observed crimes or public safety scenarios. The situations a police officer may encounter are unpredictable and require a great deal of physical and psychological stamina.
Police Officer Requirements & Application Process
To start, make formal application with a department, then you’ll undergo an extensive background check, written test, physical stamina test, a personal interview, and polygraph. If there are any minor issues in your past, it is best to indicate them on the application; if they come up during the background check and were not disclosed on the application, this would indicate a tendency towards dishonesty and could eliminate your chances of being hirable.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, law enforcement agencies and police departments now prefer to hire applicants who have education at the associates degree level or above. Getting an associates degree in criminal justice or law enforcement will provide you with a comprehensive set of knowledge that will make an employer more comfortable with your education and credentials.
Police Officer Roles & Specializations
We tend to immediately conjure images of the traffic patrol officer; however, there are several additional interesting opportunities in police work. The following is a list of specializations that one may choose to pursue within the general job of police work:
- Canine Unit Officer
- SWAT Team
- Police Detective & Criminal Investigator
- Community Relations Officer
- Helicopter Patrol
- Street Crime & Gang Unit
- Sex Crimes Officer (See Interview with Det. Suzie Ivy, Sex Crimes Detective)
- DEA Agent
- Internal Affairs
- Hostage Negotiation
Police Officer Training FAQs:
What is the best way to prepare myself to be a strong applicant?
Education, experience, as well as physical and psychological training is the best combination. Join a cadet program as soon as you are able, participate in ride-along programs, and get law enforcement related education. Just being in the process of getting your criminal justice degree can greatly prepare you. Any related experience in security, internships, maintaining strong physical fitness, and keeping a clean record will also make you a stronger candidate.
How will a degree help me?
Employers prefer applicants with college degree’s according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Obtaining a degree in criminal justice or law enforcement is a common path. However, there are some instances where a high school diploma or GED is acceptable; employers will, as a general rule, choose the applicant with a college education. Even if you have a college degree, continuing your education with law enforcement related classes is always a good idea. Having the theoretical and practical knowledge will provide a strong foundation for your career in law enforcement.
How dangerous are police jobs?
Police jobs have the potential for danger on any given work day; ironically, this is what makes it such a rewarding and exhilarating job. Constant vigilance is a must. You will undoubtedly be confronted with homicides, drugs, gangs, domestic violence, and highly volatile individuals. Greater education, training, and awareness are vital and will better equip you to handle these situations in a skillful manner. The more training and education you have, the better your ability to properly handle dangerous situations.
What are some of the requirements for Bicycle cop or Motorcycle cops?
You must first be employed as a regular police officer. Having motorcycle experience is a bonus, but there are approved facilities that offer training for both motorcycle and bicycle cops. Many police academies also offer this specialized training.
What are some of the requirements for the SWAT team?
The Special Weapons And Tactics Team (SWAT), is a specialized unit within most police departments. SWAT is called in to perform higher risk activities that are considered outside the duties of regular police officers. The first SWAT team was established in the Los Angeles Police Department in 1968.
Smaller police department may structure this unit with regular filed officers, with some special training. In mid to large sized metro police departments, this division is its own career path, requiring training, experience, and selection from the general ranks. In most cases the starting position for those that have the dream of becoming a SWAT officer is to become a Police Officer first. Education, Academy training, and the demonstration of quality police work are great first steps.
Criminal justice degree and certificate programs featured here are educational programs and do not guarantee that a student or graduate will meet the particular requirements or qualifications to become a law enforcement, corrections, or peace officer at the state, national, or international levels. Students who are interested in pursuing such professions are encouraged to check with the applicable agencies for a list of requirements.