7 Top Reasons to be a Police Officer (Ultimate Guide)
Becoming a Police Officer is not for everybody. Like any other job, it takes a person to have an interest in the line of work that Police Officers do.
For the individuals who are kicking the tires and looking for information on the benefits of becoming a police officer, you have found the right place. This article comes at you from a veteran officer's career-long journey.
In many similar articles you will read that being a police officer is a dangerous job and it is. It cannot be stressed enough that danger awaits you in many different ways. You need to be physically as well as mentally tough and be able to sustain that toughness for 20-35 years.
If you are still reading, great because we needed to get that out of the way first to stay away from sugarcoating this article with the many great benefits.
Let's dive in.
Why become a Police Officer?
For some it's very simple. They may have had a parent, relative or family friend that is or once was a law enforcement officer and that career path was inspired for them at an early age.
For others becoming a cop is a calling and helping others is a general reason.
The rest of this article is packed full of great reasons to become a police officer and there's a change you may not have thought about most of them.
Lets dive in.
Why do you want to be a Police Officer
When I was in my late teens I got my calling to want to someday join law enforcement. Many people claim to receive the same calling and it can be the same to join the military.
Over the next few years as I started to become serious in my quest to answer the calling I asked myself many times why do you want to be a police officer?
The answer to my question changed a few times as I learned more about the job and my sense of finding the best reason would go from helping others to a career excitement to the sense of accomplishment or putting away criminals.
I think you get the point.
Sense of Accomplishment
A sense of accomplishment can be felt in different ways along with different stages of your career. The hiring process can be difficult to get through successfully and if you are chosen you will feel a sense of accomplishment.
Police Academies provide you with a large assortment of obstacles to overcome including team building, exams, PT standards testing, and more.
A sense of accomplishment can be felt in many stages of the police academy especially on graduation day.
Again a sense of accomplishment will continue to arrive on your doorstep upon graduating from field training, gaining a special assignment, or being appointed to a higher rank or division.
The biggest sense of accomplishment may come on the day that you retire.
Being a part of a community
Being a Police Officer means that you can be a part of several different communities. If you are going to work in a city or town there is that community.
There is also a law enforcement community where Law Enforcement Officers represent nearly a million sworn wearing the same type of uniform and carrying the same type of equipment as you.
If you work in a large city police officers that you work with can make up a community of over 1,000 people.
If you go to National Police Week in Washington DC you will see a community like no other. The police community celebrates each other, mourns each other's losses and ultimately treats you like family.
A reason to stay physically fit
Law enforcement can be a dangerous job and being physically fit will help protect you and your coworkers.
You will start in the police academy where instructors will get you in the best shape of your life.
Many police officers get to enjoy monetary incentives to stay physically fit and if you are one of the lucky ones your police station will have a gym that you can work out at.
The uniform of the day is
Police Officers do not need to get up and decide on what outfit they are going to wear to work. If you work on an assignment where you wear a uniform every day then there is no deciding on what to wear if clothes match or what shoes go with what outfit.
Many police agencies have a uniform allowance which allows you to go to a uniform supply store or shop online where you will receive your uniforms paid for by your department.
Another benefit is that if you like putting on a suit and tie chances are you will be able to when having to go to court and testify.
Learning about the way government works
When you become a Police Officer you will learn day in and day out in the police academy about the executive branch of government which includes constitutional law, criminal law, motor vehicle law as well as state and local laws.
The criminal justice system, including the court system, can be very interesting for people who have not learned about them already.
Policing, the courts, and prisons have a very rich history that dates back a few hundred years. If you enjoy history this can be a great part of police work.
Every day can be different
Depending on where you want to work, most police officers can have a large variety of calls that you get sent to. This will depend on the size of the agency and or community that you serve.
No two calls will be the same, at least daily. Many calls are routine and some are serious or hazardous. This will also depend on what shift you will work.
What many police officers like about police work is that they are not doing the same job over and over unless they are in a special assignment such as records or permitting.
Police work is 24 hours a day which equals variety
Due to most law enforcement agencies having coverage 24 hours a day, this allows police officers to shift bid on potentially different shifts. There can be dayshift, evening shift, night shift, impact shift, and split shifts.
Different law enforcement agencies have different schedules that they adhere to so if you are looking at where to apply do the research first on what types of shifts different agencies work.
For instance, larger police departments have a variety of shifts throughout the day, evening, and night whereas smaller agencies may only have 3 shifts a day which will limit your choice.
Because you got this far into my article on top reasons to be a Police Officer I want to share with you a recruitment video that I believe is top notch, motivational and kudos to the Melbourne police department for taking the time and making the effort to create it and share it.
Now everyday life policing is not this exciting but the important takeaway from this video is that there are opportunities out there in larger police agencies to grow into specialist positions that you saw in this video.
Cutting-edge equipment and gadgetry
Police Officers get to enjoy the newest equipment and gadgetry in the field which if you are into that can be a big bonus to the job.
From drones to computer software, technology is helping law enforcement do a better job of detecting and catching individuals and groups involved in crime. Your assignment will determine the equipment you will use and there is no shortage of new gadgetry coming into the field.
Companies like COPJOT Police Notebooks and Pens are always finding new ways to make the job easier.
Living a good clean life
Due to background checks, certifications, and permitting police officers need to live a clean life. There is an incentive in having to think about your career when it comes to risky behavior.
A clean life can be a good life that is absent of excessive alcohol and no drugs. This type of lifestyle can lead to better living.
There continues to be a demand for police officers in many communities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, policing has a 7% projected growth.
Criminal Justice programs are growing into public high schools and technical high schools which is a great sign. Many police departments still only require a high school diploma for minimum hiring standards.
Many officers consider job security as one of the top benefits of being a police officer. Although towns and cities do run into budget problems from time to time being laid off is unlikely especially as officers gain years of experience and seniority.
Opportunities to use problem-solving skills
One of a police officer's main responsibilities is to solve problems. They think and act quickly to keep themselves and civilians safe.
Many individuals who want to become police officers enjoy the challenge of resolving crimes with the evidence they collect at crime scenes.
For example, a police officer may use footage from a body camera and testimonies from witnesses to connect elements of a case.
Opportunities to make a difference in people's lives
A police officer often confronts people who are engaging in criminal activity and protects people from harm. Depending on how a police officer responds, they can make a difference in the lives of individuals whom they serve and protect.
Police Officers can show compassion and empathy while remaining authoritative. They might also comfort people who are experiencing difficult situations or circumstances.
No traveling required
Some individuals may not want to work in a job capacity that requires travel. Most departments are city and local police which means that your only travel time is to and from work.
Pay and Benefits
Many aspiring police officers like to look at the fact that police officers are paid on average 15% above the national average. Along with that comes government benefits which extend to law enforcement officers and include:
- Paid for or partially paid for health and dental insurance
- Guaranteed paid time off
- Flexible spending accounts
- Direct deposit
- Deferred compensation plans or 401k's
- College degree incentives include tuition assistance and stipends after completing degree work in criminal justice and other degree programs.
- Promotional opportunities
- Uniform allowance
One of the greatest pros or benefits of becoming a police officer is that you can receive a pension upon attaining retirement age. This age will differ from state to state and even agency to agency.
For many officers, they work their entire careers thinking about receiving a pension check for the rest of their lives.
At retirement age, pension payments are made to employees periodically, usually monthly. The pension payment amount is typically based on the employee's salary and years of service.
Most police officers get to enjoy the pension perk, however, many privatized police departments only offer 401k's.
Variety of job assignments
Many police departments offer a good number of assignments besides being a patrol officer. The larger departments can have assignments such as traffic, motorcycle unit, mounted unit, mountain bike patrol, community policing, crime scene technician, detective assignments, and much more.
Smaller departments do not have the same variety, however, many police officers enjoy a slower-paced community and that can be a benefit to them.
Why I want to be a Police Officer
When you are applying to to agencies to become a police officer you will be asked many questions especially in your oral board interview.
You will need to ask yourself over and over why I want to be a police officer because you will need to figure out deep down inside what it is that attracts you to the profession.
The standard answer of "I want to help people" doesn't cut the mustard anymore. You will need to come up with something more original, believable and show that you have actually given a career in law enforcement a lot of thought.
Taking the next step
Becoming a police officer can be rewarding in many different ways. If you enjoyed this article and are considering taking the next steps I encourage you to gather as much information as you can about the hiring process and the police academy.
Some steps in the hiring process are harder than others like the oral board interview. A good start is to read What Training is Required to become a Police Officer.
About the Author
Brian Humenuk isn't just an entrepreneur in eCommerce, he is also an informed leader whose experience provides followers and visitors with a look into current and past police issues making headlines in the United States.
Brian has earned three degrees in Criminal Justice with the last, a Masters of Science in Criminal Justice Administration.
Brian extends his training, education, and experience to the officers just now getting into the field so that they may become more informed police officers and stay clear of police misconduct and corruption.
You can find Brian on Linkedin here.
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