Police work is unique since police
employment at the entry level requires no
prior experience in police work.  It's also
unique in the enormous responsibilities
you'll undertake immediately after your
training.  While training like education for
any other field is essential, the amount of
experience you'll acquire during training is

I can't think of too many careers where I
could have had as much fun and
adventure, or a career in which my
decision making ability would be tested
so many times under stressful and
dangerous circumstances.  While in the
beginning I thought I had a fair idea
about what I was getting into, I soon
began shedding all the misconceptions as
I looked toward experienced police
officers for guidance through what was,
for a beginner, some really complicated
situations and circumstances.  It didn't
take me long to understand that
experience is qualitative as well as
quantitative.  Here's where your
judgement in choosing mentors is just as
important as it will be in responding to
the life threatening situations which you
will encounter during your career.

A police career can be rewarding in every
positive way you can imagine as long as
you never... never – not for one moment
– lose sight of the serious nature of
Right from the beginning, you're going to
have to use your head. You don't have
to have a ton of experience to recognize
good direction from bad direction.  Aside
from procedural nuances, police work
rests solely on reasonable responses
from a reasonable person.  You're going
to make mistakes.  Reasonable people
make mistakes all the time, but
reasonable people rarely make
catastrophic mistakes.
When one spends over 32 years in a
police career, it's easy to forget many of
the questions and misconceptions about
police work one had at the very
beginning.  When I go on the Internet,
and I read posts by young people asking
questions about a police career, it takes
me back to a time when I had some of
the same questions and misconceptions.  

As one becomes older and –  hopefully –  
wiser, one conveniently forgets the
inexperience and stupidity of one's
youth.  That's not to say that youthful
inexperience equals stupidity.  The
stupidity part only applies to youth's
natural lack of appreciation for
experience.  How many times have you
said, or heard a young person ask, "How
can I get job experience if I can't get
hired for the job?"  It's a dilemma and
question everyone has faced, but it's just
an inconsequential facet of youth that
always works itself out.
"Reasonable people make mistakes
all the time, but reasonable people
rarely make catastrophic mistakes."
~ Barry M. Baker
You'll learn very quickly that your most
important asset will be the people who
are working with you.  No matter how
well trained, and knowledgeable, you
think you are, those first months are
going to be very difficult.  You're going to
experience situations where you'll need
guidance from others.  From the very
beginning, you should identify fellow
police officers who are competent and
experienced.  Believe me, it's not a hard
thing to do; they'll be the quiet ones.

It's just as easy to identify those police
officers whose advice you should view
with skepticism.  They'll be the ones who
respond to your questions with, "Don't
worry about it."  If you consider your
question worth asking, that response
should confirm to you that it's worth
your worry. Some police officers are
notorious for taking short cuts, and the
short cutter's slogan is, "
Don't Worry
About It

There was a time when your inexperience
would offer you some protection when
acting on bad advice from a senior police
officer.  Senior police officers were rightly
held accountable for the actions of junior
police officers under their immediate
supervision and control.  It's not like that
anymore; you'll be held fully accountable
for your actions when you follow bad
direction, and things turn out badly.
Copyright © 2016  Barry M. Baker