...higher level of scrutiny
The weight of authority brings one
particular burden.  There's really no way
to assess this burden until you've
completed your training and you're
thrown into the fray.  You'll have a head
start if you realize from the outset that
you'll be held to a higher level of scrutiny
than any other government official.  
Unlike other government officials, your
behavior off-duty will be expected to
mirror your on-duty behavior.  You must
be prepared to conduct your personal life
with the same degree of discretion as
your professional life.
…the true test
There's no way to know if you're truly
suited to be a police officer until you
experience the true test.  That test will
probably come during the first year of
your career.  It will be totally
unexpected.  You'll probably be alone,
and you'll be attacked by a person armed
with a deadly weapon sufficient to take
your life.  You will react, and your
reaction will provide you with the answers
to the test.  It will be a terrifying
experience, but the terror will test your
ability to act soundly and decisively.  As
long as you take the person alive and
uninjured, you'll be the only person
grading your test.  Your mind will be able
to view the incident like a slow motion
video over and over, and you'll never
forget a single detail of it for the rest of
your life.  There will be a short period
afterward where you'll evaluate whether
or not to continue your career, but once
you determine that you acted free of
panic, you'll probably continue your
career and be better for the experience.
...literacy helps
Police work is not limited to chasing and
capturing criminals.  In fact, all the
chasing and capturing doesn't amount to
much unless the police officer has the
ability to communicate events in writing
so that criminals can be prosecuted, so
literacy helps.  Now, don't let this
requirement for literacy scare you,
because police officers are, in fact, some
of the worst at communicating events in
writing. With all the hype about police
departments hiring college graduates, I
doubt you'd find many with degrees in
…longevity it's not
The first thing you should notice is that
nearly every police department is hiring.
Another thing you should realize is that
attrition for police officers is very high.
Even with the attractive salary and
benefit packages offered by nearly all
departments, it's safe to say that fewer
than half continue their careers to
retirement, so longevity it's not.  Many
people join only for the attractive salary
and benefits while ignoring the true
demands of the career, so the high
attrition rate should not be surprising.  If
you're considering a career as a police
officer based solely on the salary and  
benefits, you'd be better off, for the long
run, seeking another vocation.
…indispensable character trait
If you're a person who thrives on
attention and recognition, you could run
into problems.  While you'll find some
police officers who will do just about
anything to grab the credit for just about
everything, you'll soon recognize these
people and tire of them even sooner.  An
individual who craves constant
recognition usually exudes reckless self
confidence in everything he or she does.  
As a police officer, particularly a brand
new one, this exercise of self confidence
can lead to disaster. Self confidence is an
indispensable character trait for a police
officer, but you must realize that your
self confidence is only as good as the
knowledge and experience upon which it
is built.  If you understand that you're
entering a twenty to thirty year ongoing
learning experience, you'll do just fine,
and your self confidence will never fail you.
…self satisfaction
If you thrive on self satisfaction, this is
the job for you.  Among all the
aggravations and pitfalls you'll encounter
during your career, you'll experience
countless opportunities to affect the lives
of countless people in so many positive
ways.  If you decide to become a police
officer now, that decision will actually
save lives in the future.  You'll know
when you save a life by the overt action
you take. You'll never know how many
lives you've saved by just simply being
there.  Either way, how much more self
satisfaction could anyone desire?
Barnes & Noble.com
Are You Ready for a Career as a
Police Officer?
…the best education on Earth
There is no other profession, occupation,
or endeavor you could undertake where
you'll experience the realities of life at
their best and worst.  If you keep at it
long enough, you'll interact with every
level of society, and you'll learn there's
not a lot of difference among people
regardless of their educational or
economic achievements.  People sit in
classrooms for years trying to learn why
people do the things they do.  In the
end, their education is nearly all based on
theory and hearsay.  As a police officer,
you'll be a participant in, and an
eyewitness to, the realities most people
only read about. It's the best education
on Earth.
You must possess the elements of
compassion and adventure to be a police
officer.  The proportion of these elements
relative to the other will change as your
career progresses.  Your compassion will
be tempered by the unbelievable deceit
you'll experience, and the adventure will
be tempered by some really scary, life
threatening situations.
...entrusted with enormous power
As a police officer, you'll be entrusted
with enormous power.  You will routinely,
and lawfully, deprive your fellow citizens
of their liberty.  More importantly, you
may find yourself in a situation where you
could be forced to take a human life. This
power separates you from the rest of
society.  No other government official
possesses the breadth and depth of
authority as does a police officer.
Chapter One
Becoming a Police Officer
Becoming A Police Officer
An Insider's Guide
to a Career in Law Enforcement
Chapter One

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Becoming a Police Officer
An Insider's Guide to a Career
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Copyright © 2021  Barry M. Baker  
There are Five
Indispensable Truths
for a Successful Police Career:
Recommended reading for those of
you thinking about becoming a Police
Accurate crime reporting is so
important on so many levels.  It all
begins with you and your preliminary
police report.
As a police officer, you'll be writing
something everyday of your police
career.  Everything you put to writing,
no matter how
inconsequential, will be important.
While television police shows and
movies are not normally the best
examples for you to apply to your
police career, they do sometimes offer
some valuable insights.
Today's police officers are afforded the
best ballistic protection in history... and
it only gets better.