Police officers maintain law and order, preventing and investigating crimes. Working as a police officer can be a stepping stone to an advanced career in the criminal justice field. Also, it is an advanced career in law enforcement.
Because of the high level of responsibility, the standards for becoming a police officer must be very high. The process and criteria may differ depending on the country, state, or town you are working. However, there are a few standard requirements for one to become a police officer.
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So, if you ask how to become a police officer, this guide will help you know what is required.
Meet the Minimum Requirements
The law enforcement agency set the standards one should have to apply for the position of a police officer. These standards vary from office to office and have specialized functions that need unique skills and capability.
For instance, a federal agency candidate is required to meet the following qualifications:
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- Be strong and physically fit. This requirement is mandatory because of the strenuous duties a police officer performs.
- Must be a U.S. citizen
- Candidates must pass a background investigation, pass a drug test, and have no criminal convictions.
- A candidate must have a high school diploma or a G.E.D. certificate.
- A candidate must be 21 years and above.
- Candidates should not have any medical condition that may hinder them from performing their duties.
Acquire a Diploma or a Degree
Getting a high school diploma or G.E.D. would qualify you to become a police officer. This is the minimum education requirement for a police officer. Some law enforcement organizations prefer applicants to have a degree.
Ensure you check with the agency that sets the condition because the requirement differs from one state to another.
The Importance of a Diploma or a Degree
Candidates with higher education are prepared for the specific tasks they will face on their duty. Degrees offered supplement courses that benefit police officers in their field of responsibility.
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This academic training provides you with many opportunities to develop soft skills that are also important in pursuing a career in law enforcement. These are skills that relate to an individual’s emotional intelligence.
They include; teamwork and collaboration, oral and written communication, interpersonal relationship, and conflict resolution.
There are varieties of schools that train law enforcement. Some of them are:
Vocational/ Trade Schools
These are institutions that offer programs focusing on ability oriented candidates. These schools provide a faster way to acquire the training needed to become a law enforcer. Students get the opportunity to acquire police academy teaching before joining the police academy officially.
This is relatively inexpensive compared to getting a university degree and provides an opportunity for specialized advancement.
Other schools that train law enforcement which is best for those who would like to work as police officers as quickly as possible includes;
- Community College
- Law Enforcement Schools
- Year Schools and
How long the training takes depends on your long term career goals and the path you decide to go.
Complete the Academy Training
After completing the necessary selection procedures, applicants become candidates as police recruits or cadets. They then present themselves for training in the academy they have applied. During this time, candidates receive benefits and allowances depending on one’s state.
The course-work consists of programs that lead you to work as an officer varies depending on the institution and education level. Students are taught general education courses and also focus on the main route for the police officers. Such courses include criminal justice, correction systems, ethics, and communication.
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The program comprises two components, which include classroom education and field training. Classroom education trains law criminal investigation techniques, criminal procedure, policing approaches, and critical law enforcement.
But field training covers the overall physical capability of candidates. Cadets get skills in first aid management, firearms handling, handling hazardous materials, First aid administration vehicle operation, and patrol operations.
For the in-service training, it involves cadets who have completed the academy training and graduated. They may advance to the next level, which is the probationary level. At this stage, cadets get in-service training from department administrators and senior police officers. They are taught how to apply what they have learned in the academy in real-life situations.
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Pass POST Exam
Before the applicant starts working as a police officer, he or she must pass the exam administered. The exam taken varies depending on the police academy jurisdiction. Every state does testing differently. Therefore, you can research tests done in a particular country.
Police officer exams include written exams that test grammar, writing, and reading comprehension. You will also go through trials like body physical, psychological fitness, medical health, oral interview, and background review.
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Once you pass these tests, you graduate, and now you can work as a police officer.
Take an Oath of Office
Successful candidates take the oath of office. They recite the vow in the presence of authorized witnesses, department administrators, and colleagues. They are also required to sign a written pledge that acts as proof that they have officially committed themselves to service.
There is no specific oath across the federal state, but the message is the same. Once sworn in, the officer receives assignments, guns, badges, and law enforcement authority.
Some Duties of a Police Officer Include:
- Protecting the life and property of citizens.
- Monitor, report, and investigate suspicious persons, situations, and safety hazards.
- Maintain traffic control
- Inspecting parameters of buildings, roads, fencing, and checking any damage and unlawful activity.
- Prevent crimes
- Escorted individual visitors; equipment to destroy when required.
- Investigate and report accidents.
- Investigate complex cases.
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Being a police officer is one way of serving the community. Generally, police officers enforce the law and protect the property and life of the citizens. For sure, it involves working long and strange hours. Despite that, this job is also very demanding and pays well.