There is a specific set of skills required for anyone who desires to become a police officer. You need to have plenty of physical and mental strength to help get your through any obstacle thrown your way. You also need to have plenty of patience and agility for those stressful or intimidating situations. These skills can help keep a police officer alive while they provide protection to the civilians around them.
While most people who are entering into the police academy are facing these trials for the very first time, former members of the military already have years of experience dealing with high-stress situations where staying calm and level-headed has helped them stay alive.
If you are a veteran and would like to find out how to become a police officer, you are not alone. There are many former service members who are interested in continuing their career of protecting the innocent and safeguarding their communities on a much smaller scale. Your training and experience can be a great benefit to getting a good job as a police officer in a busy district. But you will still need to go through the same amount of training as all others enrolled in the police academy.
5 Steps on How to Become a Police Officer for Military Service Members
1. Make Sure You Choose the Right Career
There are several options for those looking to join the police force. It is important to take on a role that allows you to use your best skills the most. The different type of jobs you can take on include Police Officer/Deputy Sheriff, Corrections Officer, and Special Agent/Federal Agent.
Police Officer/Deputy Sheriff
Police officers and deputy sheriffs are on the front line to protect the community they serve from everyday criminals. They are on hand to provide routine checks around the neighborhood, respond to calls, and provide security at community events.
When you are hired as a police officer, you will be assigned important patrol duties. After serving time as a rookie, you will be given the opportunity to take on more advanced tasks such as SWAT, K9, motor squad and more. Some of these positions are full time while others are based on an as-needed basis.
Corrections Officers play an important role in law enforcement. They take control of the supervision of criminals. With the prison population overflowing these days, there is a growing need for more corrections officers on the force. At any given time, there is an estimated 500,000 corrections officers overseeing around 2.5 million inmates. To work in a correctional facility, you need to have at least a high school diploma, however, there are some agencies that will require either a college degree or some college credits to be hired. Prior military or counseling service is a plus.
Special Agent/Federal Agent
There are many state and federal agencies that have special agents on staff to assist with various law enforcement duties. Qualified special agents will often have a broad range of experience and hold advanced degrees in specialized areas such as computer science, engineering, foreign language and accounting.
The most qualified candidates for a special agent position include those who have prior military or law enforcement experience.
2. Take Advantage of the GI Bill
These days there are many police recruits, sheriffs and police chiefs who are interested in hiring military service members than ever before. That is because they have learned about how easily many veterans can transition into the lifestyle of a police officer and how well they are able to take on the everyday struggles of fighting crime.
If you are a veteran and are wondering how to become a police officer, here are a few helpful tips to get you started on the perfect career.
The Montgomery GI Bill is a training and education benefit that is earned by those in Active Duty, Selected Reserve, and National Guard service members. The benefit helps service members and veterans who are eligible by taking care of their higher education costs. It can help cover the cost of additional education and training that you may need to join the police force.
3. Choose the Right Department
One of the most common mistakes made by new police recruits is choosing a department early-on and refusing to apply for any other. But when they find out that their dream department isn’t the right role for them, it is too late to apply for anything else. You should take the time to learn more about each department, find out what area you want to work in, check out agency reviews online and get information for police officers who are already involved in the department you are interested in. This will help to ensure that you take on the right job that fits your training and experience.
4. Meet with a Recruiter
When you meet with a recruiter, always be professional. You should dress appropriately and speak in a professional tone. Be prepared with plenty of questions to ask so that they will know you are serious about the job. Don’t attempt to impress your recruiter with your knowledge about the force and statistics, but instead listen to what they have to say and be courteous. Don’t use a lot of military jargon and be prepared to provide them with your personal goals for your career as a police officer.
5. Apply for the Job
Applying for any job can be stressful, and one of the biggest hurdles that any potential employee must face is standing out among the crowd. While your military experience will be very beneficial at this time, don’t expect it to make it easier for you to land the perfect police job. Many service members apply for law enforcement jobs these days and recruits are looking for someone who has the complete package who truly wants to serve their community.
How to Become a Police Officer and Make the Transition from Service Member to Cop
Making the transition from being an active member of the military to joining the police force isn’t as simple as you may think. Here are a few things that you can do to make the change in your lifestyle as smooth as possible.
Should You Become a Police Officer After Your Military Service?
There are few careers that are as fitting for a former member of the U.S. Armed Forces as being a police officer. Yet regardless of the training you may have received while in service, you still need to learn the ropes of the local law enforcement.
A screening process is performed on anyone who wants to become a police officer. Part of that process involves psychological testing. While some veterans assume that this is an automatic disqualification, that is not true. The screening process is viewed case-by-case and everyone is given the same opportunity.
Becoming a police officer may seem like a natural transition, especially when it comes to using a firearm and working well under pressure. But the police force operates much differently than the Army or Marines, and for some, it isn’t an obvious choice for them. Especially those veterans who are dealing with PTSD and other emotional issues after retiring. If you are looking for a career that is as helpful as being a cop, but not as stressful, a job as a security guard, crossing guard, or a warden may be a better option.