Saturday Question

Even though it’s Sunday…

Ian actually asked two questions, but I’m gonna break ’em up between a couple weeks:

What do you feel someone interested in a career with a police/sheriff agency should do to prepare themselves for the application process and to prepare themselves upon entering their police/sheriff’s respective academy?

Well, Ian, probably the best thing to do initially is do a ride along with an agency you’re interested in. You can usually ride during any shift. Come to think of it, do a few on different shifts. Each shift has it’s own vibe. Day shift is a little more paper heavy (cold details), swings and graves tend to have more in-progress details. When you’re on a ride along, ask lots of questions. Hopefully, the agency you ride with and the Officer you are assigned to will be willing to answer them. Lots of us aren’t always keen on a ride along, so you might consider just riding for a couple of hours. (We are a territorial lot and we set up our cars like an office, so anything that upsets the feng shui throws off our chi, you know?)
If you are further along in your pursuit of a LE career and you know some folks in the biz, have them sit down with you and do some practice oral board questions. That is by far the toughest part of the process. A retarded monkey could pass the written exam. Even the physical test isn’t difficult. Oral boards are always the toughest bit.
Once you are accepted by an agency and sponsored to complete the Academy, the best way to prepare is to run your ass off. PT (Physical Training) is by far the most demanding and challenging part of the Academy. You can also sponsor yourself through the Academy, by the way, but I couldn’t tell you the cost (I assume it’s around 5K or so). I would start training as early as possible to get yourself into physical shape. Most Academies these days are no joke and a number of people wash out early because they can’t hang. (I thank God almost daily I went through the Academy when I did, because there’s much less of a chance that I’d make through now).
If you’ve got a four year college degree, all the better. It doesn’t necessarily have to be in Criminal Justice, mind you, I was a Poli Sci major. However, the college experience is invaluable for a number of reasons with respect to a LE career. It prepares you to be a better report writer, increases your critical/analytical thinking skills, and exposes you to a myriad of different people/cultures. All these things are beneficial to you in your career. Not to mention you actually get a pay bump sooner in your career rather than later.
Lastly, study, study, study. Buy a copy of the Penal Code (PC), Vehicle Code (VC), and Legal Sourcebook. All of these books will be your LE Bible(s) until the day you retire. No time like the present to familiarize yourself.
Hope that answers your question, Ian. I’ll get to your second one next week!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. Snark is encouraged. Being a prat is not.

15 thoughts on “Saturday Question

  1. Hey MC:
    Most excellant advice there for the "hopeful" LEO. I always like to add when asked to bring some extra skills with them to the interviews, such as a SCUBA C-Card ( go figure), pilot's license, and extra volunteer work they have done, first aid + CPR, AED training, things like that. Prior military is a plus also.
    Love to chat with you sometime, my e mail is on my profile page.
    STAY SAFE Bro, you only have 2 wheels under your butt, I have a tank, " Crown Vic".

  2. Excellent advice on all points. I would add this: Be patient and persevere. With the down economy, very few agencies are hiring right now. It's just simply a matter of economics. Large agencies are laying people off, including cops, and smaller ones are battening down the hatches. If you get a job offer, take the first one you get, even if it's not your 'preferred' agency because that may well be the ONLY offer you get. With so few agencies hiring and so many looking for jobs, the few agencies that are hiring can afford to be very very picky so you really have to set yourself apart.

    If you can afford to put yourself through the academy, that may give you a leg up on someone who hasn't. Assuming you have all the qualifications and are a desirable canidate, the agency can put you directly into field training–they don't have to wait 6 mos. for you to pass the academy because you've done it already. Of course the downside is you are unaffiliated and not getting paid at the academy, and a lot of people simply cant afford to do this, whereas the affiliated students do get a decent wage while there (albeit no benefits).

    If and when you do get hired, it's the greatest job in the world.

  3. My advice would be..
    How about some real life experience. Get a job hold it down for numerous years get promoted. Show you have life skills and can make decisions, work under pressure, work with/without supervison. Work as a member of a team. Get your degree. Don't limit your field to law enforcement. Get a degree you can fall back on if "law enforcement" isn't for you, or you have an OJI that ends your career.

    I have seen many kids right out of school come and go with no life experience. They don't not even last through FTO.

    This ain't T.V. and life ain't fair. Law enforcement isn't a job it's a career.

  4. Thanks for the extra advice everyone! I'm hoping to get into the USCG. Maybe do a tour or two there, or longer if I find my niche there. I'm only 17 so I have a ways to go. I'm holding down a job now, getting pretty good grades in school, and staying out of trouble.

    Now I've been that kind of kid who has gotten the good grades and excelled in school since elementary school, but I'm tiring of the same thing every year. Do you think, in your own opinion, that joining the military would be equal to or greater than someone with a college degree? I do fully intend to get my degree in something practical, just not right away.

    Again thanks for all the information!


  5. 10-8 is right in point. I would like to reiterate, however, how critical it is to scrub your MySpace and Facebook accounts. Once you start interviewing, you need to cut off all of your friends except a handful of trusted associates that are all on board to make you look good. Even if YOU don't post pictures of you doing a body shot off some syphilitic skank while wearing a "Fuck Da Po-lice" T-shirt, you can't always count on your friends to have that kind of discretion.
    Also, your timing SUCKS. 3 or 4 years ago, you would have been virtually GUARANTEED a shot at a big city PD like Oakland or SFPD- they couldn't find enough qualified people for the jobs they had.
    Now? If LASD offers you an 830.1 job sorting through the sewage at the jail, looking for expelled shanks, TAKE IT.

  6. Yep, no blemishes here. My record is as clean as a whistle, almost to clean……But, seriously, if the past is any indication of my future behavior, I'll pass with flying colors. Any other advice out there? All this information is really informative!

  7. Pretty sure the poor guy can't control how old he is, DA.

    Oh, and you make me sound like a wide-eyed, just off the boat, hopeful, neophyte. Man, you are one jaded S.O.B. :p

  8. Re: BootedCop's comment that affiliated students "get a decent wage while there [the academy] (albeit no benefits)."

    I'd be interested to know if this is more often the case than not. My husband had benefits from the day he started academy.

  9. No benefits from my agency, they just paid me.

    And I'm waiting for Lingustics Stud to chime in regarding "a myriad of".

  10. Good point on the Myspace and Facebook scrubbing. I new about keeping mine clean (which it is) but, my friends I totally overlooked. Do you any of you know anything about ALCO Sheriff's Dept.? That is my DREAM agency, but I hear that it is extremely difficult to get out onto patrol.

  11. And I'm waiting for Lingustics Stud…

    Mein Gott, I have my own cheering section.

    Although the usage of "myriad" in this context is a shade purple, MC's use is not over the line.

    Each shift has it's own vibe.

    This, however, did not escape my attention. MC has been warned about this specific infraction before.

  12. Profanity is a dervish within my noggin.

    A brilliant metaphor. For this I am overlooking, once again, your pronoun/possessive butchery in the previous post.

  13. "Pretty sure the poor guy can't control how old he is, DA."

    Jeez, MC, way to give me the benefit of the doubt . . .

    Of COURSE I wasn't chewing the pour guy out; I was just pointing out a brutal but honest truth.

    My way of talking changed dramatically when I was stationed in New Jersey. In Jersey, if you need to say something, you just say it. You don't pussyfoot around the subject and try to avoid hurting feelings, you just get it out there. And when I learned that people weren't trying to be rude, I really started to apreciate it. It was really efficient. More importantly, people didn't get too worked up when someone was blunt- they just assumed they were shooting straight, even if they didn't agree.

    Anyway, "Hopeful" better be ready to confront some long odds. If he makes it, though, I'm sure he'll be a quality cop.

  14. AAAHHH!!! Damn its/it's. My own personal grammatical nemesis.

    Oh, and suck it, "Smith"…a shade purple but not over the line!


    Although, now I'm sure I've lost his/her respect for using "Boo-yah". Damned if you do…

  15. KD: My agency pays only a wage and no bennies if they sponsor you at the academy. I think getting bennies while at academy is exception not the rule.

    All the other advice/comments are right on point as well.

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