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!