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Criminal Justice Articles

What does it take to become a Police Officer?

Police officers are considered heroes by many members of our community. It is not unusual for very young boys and girls to declare that they want to become a police officer when they grow up.
Becoming a police officer is not an easy process; there are several steps to be taken in order to make sure that the right individuals are chosen for the job. A job in law enforcement can be dangerous and extremely stressful, but is also challenging and fulfilling in many ways. Those dedicated to the position understand that there is a strong sense of duty and responsibility that comes with this career choice.

A police officer can work in local, state or federal positions. Somewhere around 80 percent of all police officers work in local governments. One thing that local, state and federal officers have in common is that their primary responsibility is to protect the lives and property of citizens. General Law enforcement duties include regularly patrolling areas and responding to calls. Some law enforcement officers are responsible for various duties such as responding to the scene of automobile accidents and administering first aid to victims in need and even directing the traffic if need be.

In larger police departments, the duties are often more specialized. Officers are assigned to a specific duty. These duties include training and firearms instruction, handwriting and fingerprint analysis; there are special units which include bicycle, horseback and harbor patrol. There are officers who mainly work in court and jail duty positions. One thing they all have in common is that they must submit reports and keep precise notes if ever required to testify in court.

Becoming a police officer starts with getting a high school education. Most go on to receive additional training while working on an Associates or Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice. The best programs will include courses in human behavior, legal issues, computer systems, etc.

Police officers are expected to have a relatively clean background. They are required to undergo a background check as part of the application process. If you have several traffic violations, drug convictions or other major blemishes on your record, you may be rejected. It is also required for police officers to pass a civil service examination. Whichever department a potential candidate applies to will administer the exam. Most departments provide study guides to help you prepare in advance.

Of course, being a police officer is a physically challenging job. You will need to be in excellent physical condition in order to pass the physical exam, which will test your agility, vision, hearing, vision and strength. After successfully passing these tests, candidates are required to pass drug and lie detector tests, as well as a series of interviews within the desired department. If accepted, candidates are immediately enrolled into the academy for more in-depth training. The process of becoming a police officer is a lengthy one, but once you complete it, you will be well prepared for the job.

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