Despite the negative press toward police officers in recent times, there are still people with a desire to embark on this profession. In the tenure of my career (over a decade now,) I have been asked many times how to become a police officer.
The simple “PC” answer is to go to a law enforcement training program, or for large municipal departments, attend their police academy. There you will be put through education on laws and practices, procedures, physical training, firearms, driving, even handcuffing. It is a very basic program to prepare law enforcement trainees to enter the work force, where there career is molded with further “field training.”
To become a police officer, and I mean really be a good police officer, you have to possess a lot of qualities. You have to have good character. You have to be willing to tell the truth, even when it’s not flattering or popular. You have to do the right thing, even when no one is looking. You have to be fair, accepting, and courteous to people of all walks of life. You have to put aside your opinions, grudges, and quirks of human nature to do your job. You don’t just represent yourself. You represent your department, and all your other brothers and sisters in blue.
You have to go in every day knowing, REMEMBERING that it could be the last day you ever go. You have to constantly think about what you’re doing. You don’t just do this to evaluate that you’re doing it properly, you have to evaluate that you’re doing it safely. You must be on a constant mission to improve the way you do your job. You have to remember that there are people who have come before you that made the ultimate sacrifice. You must honor them by never becoming complacent.
A great example of evaluating your safety is conducting a traffic stop. Those are among one of the most dangerous things that officers do on the job. You have no idea who you could be walking up on and what their intentions are. You also have to account for all the other cars on the road, and what they’re doing. People are notorious for not noticing blue lights and zooming past, just as you’re going to open the door to get out of the squad car. You can look on any video media site and find dozens of videos of cops being hit by cars on traffic stops. I’ve even had someone take my side view mirror off before!
Every time I finish a stop, I think about what I could have done better: Was my approach safe? Did I make good observations as to passengers, movement in the vehicle, weapons or contraband in the vehicle on my walk up? Did I think about where I was standing, how I was standing? Did I make good observations on the driver? Were they nervous? Did I position my vehicle right? If someone hit me, would I have been able to get out of dodge? If the driver or passenger got out and started shooting, do I have cover to return fire? How good am I at drawing my weapon from inside my car? Was I on a busy road where I could have found a side street to move the stop to? All of these things must become part of the process, a second nature to each call, each stop.
Let’s move on to the sacrifice of being a police officer. Yeah, you get a cool outfit and a car, but you have all that at the expense of working long hours. You will miss holidays, birthdays, graduations, moments that you cannot get back. You will learn your body’s capacity for junk food, lack of sleep, energy drinks, and things you can fit in your pockets. You must be able to eat in your car, memorize things that stay open twenty-four hours, and learn to find ways to stay awake when everyone else is dreaming away in their beds. You’ll learn to work in rain, snow, heat, wind, lightning, hell-fire, brimstone, and maybe even plagues of frogs. If anyone has to work in a plague of frogs, It’s definitely going to be a cop. The firefighters will show up for a few minutes to help with the wrecks caused by the frog plague, but then you’ll have to stay and do paperwork (Firefighters are still awesome, we love you guys.) While you’re sitting in your car, citizens are going to come up and ask you how long the frogs are going to be around, and you’ll have to stop and start your report seven times.
You're going to work with all kinds of people. Some will become friends for life, some you will have force yourself to smile around. You're going to have to come in on days off, spend weeks with little to no days off. You will be constantly learning on the job, no matter how long you end up doing it.
Have I scared you yet? I hope not! Usually after people ask me how to become a police officer, they ask me why I became a police officer. That answer is simple: I like to serve my community. I get to make a tangible difference in my environment. I get to help people, solve problems, protect people, and give back what I have been given in this world. My time and effort are worth what I'm able to do for people, and I'm proud to say I've helped quite a few. Let's not forget the hilarious donut jokes!
So if you're passionate and willing to give it your all, come and join us! -Jackie B.
Disclaimer: The views and content of this post are strictly the voice and opinion of the author, and not necessarily that of Tactical Distributors.