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What is it like to be a cop/and or police officer

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Subject: Career question for you

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John’s Answer

Zach before pursuing a career in this field, consider the responsibilities of the job. It takes a certain set of unique skills and characteristics to be successful in this role. Potential personal injury and danger may cause stress for these officers, as a result, it’s a profession that’s not for everybody.

STEPS TO BECOMING A POLICE OFFICER

STEP 1: POLICE OFFICER REQUIREMENTS – All police departments require their police officers to have at least a high school diploma or equivalent. While some departments hire graduates right out of high school, most require potential officers to be at least 21 years old. Thus, students who are hired after high school must work and train until they are 21 in order to become an officer. Other basic prerequisites for police officers include being a U.S. citizen and having a valid driver's license, possess a clean driving record, and pass a criminal background check, drug screening, and physical exam - including vision screening.

STEP 2: EDUCATION – A high school diploma or a GED is typically the minimum level of education needed to become a police officer. A college degree may appeal to potential employers and may even be required by some law enforcement agencies. Through an associate's or bachelor's degree program in criminology, police science, public administration, or criminal justice, undergraduates can obtain helpful knowledge and skills to apply to a career in law enforcement. Degree-holders also may advance their careers more rapidly than those without a relevant degree. Some departments will even provide tuition assistance to officers who seek degrees in pertinent fields.

STEP 3: APPLICATION – In order to gain a position on the police force, candidates are required to pass various examinations to ensure competence. Candidates must pass written exams, which may be administered through a police academy. Most divisions also administer physical tests of strength, vision, hearing, and agility. Some units conduct psychiatric or background interviews to assess a recruit's personal characteristics and overall suitability for a career in law enforcement. Most candidates will need to pass drug and lie detector tests as well. After being accepted, you'll be placed into a pool of eligible candidates for future police officer openings. Depending on the hiring situation, applicants might be immediately moved into a training program.

STEP 4: ACADEMY – To become a police officer, accepted applicants need to complete a rigorous training program. Police academy training generally lasts about 12-14 weeks. Programs combine classroom study with physical training. Coursework covers the law and civil rights as well as proper police protocol and responses. The physical aspects of the training involve learning self-defense techniques and proper firearm usage.

STEP 5: JOB OUTLOOK – The final step is to find a job. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that state and federal police and detective jobs should be quite competitive. However, once a police officer is hired, there is generally very little turnover. The BLS reported that police and detective jobs would grow 5% from 2018-2028, which was as fast as average. he average Police Patrol Officer salary in the United States is $62,750 as of October 28, 2020, but the range typically falls between $57,500 and $67,500. Salary ranges can vary widely depending on many important factors, including education, certifications, additional skills, the number of years you have spent in your profession.

Hope this was helpful Zach

John recommends the following next steps:

Build up physical endurance and athleticism: Police officers need to remain in top physical shape due to the demands and dangers involved with the position. Officers regularly have to actively chase down and capture criminals who flee crime scenes. Participating in high school or college sports, along with exercising regularly, can build up the necessary endurance and athleticism to become a police officer.
Take foreign language courses: Police officers regularly need to work with people from a variety of cultural backgrounds, including people who don't speak English. In the process of becoming a police officer, obtaining proficiency in a foreign language can help one communicate more efficiently with witnesses or suspects and may help them stand out to potential employers.
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Jim’s Answer

Hi Zach! Your admiration of law enforcement is a common feeling for many. I personally have close friends who work in the law enforcement community. While most people think of law enforcement as police officers, my friend was both a correctional officer (prison guard) and probation officer.

Police officers have very difficult jobs and the most important part of their job is how they relate with the public. The same is for prison guards and probation officers. Learning to communicate effectively with people who you seem to have little in common with is the most important thing. Be accepting and understanding of others now will help how you relate to others later. This is a noble profession and can be very challenging mentally.
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Melisa’s Answer

Hi Zach.

Great question. I'm not in law enforcement, but I was able to participate in our town's Citizens Police Academy program. It was a 12 week program to let residents experience some of what it's like to work in our police department. At the time, it also included a ride-along shadow opportunity.

I know right now, with COVID-19, there may likely be restrictions, but might be something you want to look into to see if there is an explorer program or youth education opportunities for a visit or something similar. BTW- I great up in Streamwood. You have a great Mayor in Hanover Park!

Best wishes to you in your career and educational goals.
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