Many might consider the leap from police work to product development management a really unusual career trajectory. That’s Henri Degre in a nutshell, though. His entire life has been defined by unusual choices and they have always paid off for him. Part of being a great police officer is knowing when it’s time to branch out into other work.
How do you go about becoming a police officer? Here are five tips that will help you launch a successful career in criminal justice.
• Get into top physical shape. Working as a police officer is extremely physically demanding. You need to be able to lift heavy objects and run quickly when circumstances demand it. You will need to pass a demanding fitness test before you can graduate from the Police Academy.
One of the best ways to train for the physical side of police work is to enroll in a martial arts class. Even if you can’t do this, you should join a gym. You will need to be able to lift 150 pounds and run 1.5 miles in under 12 minutes.
• Join the military. Military service will give you familiarity with weapons, which is a huge part of police work. Despite what you see on TV crime shows, most police officers never fire their guns outside the firing range.
Military service will also familiarize you with one of the basic concepts of police work: chain of command. Police departments are very hierarchical organizations. The actual rank structure differs from one police department to the next. As a police officer, you are expected to address any concerns you have about your work with those at the next level of command.
The chain of command sets up a system of responsibility and accountability. At every level of the chain of command, a police officer is responsible to someone else for his or her job performance and personal activities.
• Take a tour of the local police department if one is offered to the public. Some police departments will also allow individuals who aren’t members of the force to ride along on patrols. If you have any friends or relatives who are police officers, talk with them about their work experiences. Speak with them as well about their satisfactions and dissatisfactions with the job.
It might be worth applying for a job with a police department that doesn’t entail actual police work. Many police officers work as radio dispatchers before applying to a police academy. This gives them the opportunity to see whether a police department is an environment in which they feel comfortable working.
• Learn basic first aid skills, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR.) Police work isn’t all about catching the bad guys. Police work is also about helping the good guys. You will often get calls from well meaning bystanders who see people in distress. Often, these people are suffering from medical issues, and the police officer will be the first one on the scene.
Most police departments require officers to become certified in CPR and automated external defibrillation. In fact, many police cars are equipped with defibrillators.
• Learn a second language. Police officers often interact with immigrants. In this country, there are many Spanish-speaking immigrants. While many of these individuals are also fluent in English, some are not. It can be very useful to address these people in their own language.
Almost 30 percent of all immigrants to the U.S. are Spanish-speaking Mexicans. Philippinos account for 4.5percent of all immigrants, while people from India and China account for 4.3 percent and 3.7 percent respectively. People from Vietnam and El Salvador each account for 3 percent.
If you follow these five tips, you’ll be physically and mentally prepare to begin a rewarding career as a police officer.Read More