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Old 11-14-2011, 17:02   #1
nathanours
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A few questions about becoming an officer...

Hey everyone, I just want to start by saying that I really respect all that you guys do and stand for. To get more to the point, ever since I was about 8 years old I've had a strong interest in joining the police.

Right now I am 22 years old and one year away from finishing my bachelors in economics with a business minor. After I finish my degree I would like to begin the process of becoming an officer. What are the steps I need to take? Are there any tips and tricks I should know about? I am in good shape, I weigh 150, can bench about 175, and can run 4 miles in around 7 minutes per mile. The only things on my record are 2 traffic infractions, one was 4 years ago for going 8 over the limit, and one this year for making a right turn when a pedestrian was starting to walk across the street 4 lanes over. Would these disqualify me for serious consideration?

Thanks,

Nathan
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Old 11-14-2011, 17:36   #2
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Sound like for now, all you need is to consider who you're interesting in working for, and start applying.

Keep in mind that it's hard to break into LE. So apply to several agencies and take the first offer that comes along. Then transfer laterally (or keep applying to the Feds, etc...) until you're aged out or you get to the agency you really want.

Oh yeah, if you start today, your first offer may be 2 or 3 years down the road.

Good luck. Stay focused.
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Last edited by Patchman; 11-14-2011 at 17:38..
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Old 11-14-2011, 17:39   #3
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Is the market for hiring right now really that bad? I didn't realize it would be so long to get into the field. Are there any steps I could take to improve my chances?
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Old 11-14-2011, 17:54   #4
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Is the market for hiring right now really that bad? I didn't realize it would be so long to get into the field. Are there any steps I could take to improve my chances?
Steps to take to improve your chances? Sure, marry the Sheriff's ugliest daughter.

Yes, things are really that bad, if not worse. Depending on where you're at, in some states you'll have to put yourself through a private academy before any LE agency will even look at your application. Other agencies already have waiting lists and you'll just be another name to get added on. Many places, candidates with military background will get veterans' credit towards hiring.

My advise? Get a real job with the attitude that that's the field you'll be doing for the rest of your life. Then start applying for some LE positions.
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Old 11-14-2011, 17:56   #5
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Is the market for hiring right now really that bad? I didn't realize it would be so long to get into the field. Are there any steps I could take to improve my chances?
Cities are broke, and the first budget cut is usually law enforcement and fire depts.

Here's an eye opener: My Agency, on paper, is fully staffed at 2000 or so. Currently, we have 1600. By 2013, we'll have 1400, due to mass retirements. Number of academy classes scheduled or budgeted for: 0.

Most hiring processes are similar to:
Step 1: Written app.
2. written testing, physical fitness
3. if passed the above, oral interview
4. Oral passed? Pre-background application
5. Full background: Psych, background interviews with coworkers, friends, family, neighbors, schools, polygraph, medical.
If all that's passed, some agencies do a final Chief's interview.

Then wait. Already, you're probably a year or so into the whole process. Probably another 6 months for a decisions, then maybe, an academy invite.
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Old 11-14-2011, 17:58   #6
nathanours
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Steps to take to improve your chances? Sure, marry the Sheriff's ugliest daughter.

Yes, things are really that bad, if not worse. Depending on where you're at, in some states you'll have to put yourself through a private academy before any LE agency will even look at your application. Other agencies already have waiting lists and you'll just be another name to get added on. Many places, candidates with military background will get veterans' credit towards hiring.

My advise? Get a real job with the attitude that that's the field you'll be doing for the rest of your life. Then start applying for some LE positions.
Thanks for the info. It's a bit of a downer, but I am still gonna give it my best shot. With that to think about, I've already got some good other options with econ or business during those 3 years or however long it takes. Do you know anything about how it is for those living in Colorado? Should I look into taking a few criminal justice courses during my last year?
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Old 11-14-2011, 18:08   #7
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Sorry, but absolutely my posts are downer. I remember my own heartbreaks and frustrations and don't wish that on anybody. But my experiences were probably typical.

As for Colorado LE, I'll leave that for posters from there to answer.

Again, good luck and stay focused.
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Old 11-14-2011, 19:05   #8
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I finished the application and testing process for a state agency a couple of months ago. Ky academy class that I was FINALLY accepted to was scheduled for yesterday since April of this year. It was then postponed until January 2012. That means in another 7 weeks, if I get to actually start training then, it will be almost three years to the day that I have been in this process. I am very ready to begin.

My advice would be to finish your degree, take a good full time job, then start applying and waiting. I honestly hope that nobody else will have to wait as long as I have, but there are several other guys here that had to wait just as long or longer than myself. I took a big risk by putting all my eggs in one basket holding out for this department. I did it because I was not financially able to sponsor myself through a self pay academy. I also screwed up on a PT test for one other department along the way and sustained a sprained ankle and could not finish out the day, as much as I wanted to.

Stay in shape, and take the first offer that comes along, if it is really what you want to do.

Good luck, and keep your nose clean!
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Old 11-14-2011, 19:11   #9
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If you have a degree you should consider the military or becoming an FBI agent. Just my 2
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Old 11-14-2011, 19:21   #10
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I would suggest getting on a reserve first. You can make sure being a cop is something you want to do while working your FT job. It also might provide you with the "in" that you need. The last several deputies my dept. has hired came from the jail or reserve unit. The last few weeks people have been hinting to me that I should apply to go FT...I've been a reserve for just under 2 years. I'd consider it if I could take the $9K pay cut. For now I'm happy doing both.
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Old 11-14-2011, 19:23   #11
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There are some agencies hiring brand new guys vs laterals in Colorado right now. Most of the ones I have heard about are in the metro area, and down the front range, and vary from State Patrol to Sheriffs.

It's tough here too, but not impossible. The larger agencies still have their own academies too. Keep your nose clean, send out a lot of apps and grab what comes up. From there you can get experience for a lateral if you want. Good on you for the degree too.
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Old 11-14-2011, 19:43   #12
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Is the market for hiring right now really that bad? I didn't realize it would be so long to get into the field. Are there any steps I could take to improve my chances?
I disagree. There is more demand than bodies in my area. That may not be the norm, but its the case in a 25mi radius in my area. My dept would hire 10 more if they had qualified applicants.
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Old 11-14-2011, 21:34   #13
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I finished the application and testing process for a state agency a couple of months ago. Ky academy class that I was FINALLY accepted to was scheduled for yesterday since April of this year. It was then postponed until January 2012. That means in another 7 weeks, if I get to actually start training then, it will be almost three years to the day that I have been in this process. I am very ready to begin.

My advice would be to finish your degree, take a good full time job, then start applying and waiting. I honestly hope that nobody else will have to wait as long as I have, but there are several other guys here that had to wait just as long or longer than myself. I took a big risk by putting all my eggs in one basket holding out for this department. I did it because I was not financially able to sponsor myself through a self pay academy. I also screwed up on a PT test for one other department along the way and sustained a sprained ankle and could not finish out the day, as much as I wanted to.

Stay in shape, and take the first offer that comes along, if it is really what you want to do.

Good luck, and keep your nose clean!

Kentucky? You coming here?
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Old 11-14-2011, 21:39   #14
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Kentucky? You coming here?
No Sir. PA State Police.

Edit: I see what threw you off in my previous post. My phone auto corrected the word "my" to Ky. Sorry about the confusion.
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Old 11-15-2011, 06:34   #15
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No Sir. PA State Police.

Edit: I see what threw you off in my previous post. My phone auto corrected the word "my" to Ky. Sorry about the confusion.
Gotcha. Didn't think you were moving this way, but KSP was doing a hiring process recently. Could have been the one you were talking about, but I didn't think it was.
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Old 11-15-2011, 08:18   #16
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Start applying/testing now, to get used to the process and get practice in interviews if nothing else. I started testing when I was still 2 years from finishing school, and didn't get hired as a sworn officer until 1 year after finishing (i.e. 3 years of testing). My first interview I was shaking like a leaf, and by the time I was done (and to this day) I can breeze through a public speech without issue.

I worked as a dispatcher and juvenile detention officer in the meantime after graduating, both good experiences that have helped me as an LEO. Granted I was only testing 1-2 times per year, not doing the "different department every weekend" thing like some guys do in large metropolitan areas that have a lot of suburb departments. I've been on the job ~10 years now, so even before hiring recessions it still took that long.

Stay away from bars and start considering who you hang out with. You need to keep your record clean and not have to explain any less-than-virtuous situations you might end up in. A single "wrong place wrong time" incident that surfaces can be an automatically disqualify you from some department hiring lists. They just won't want to mess with the liability, even if you aren't a major problem. The couple traffic violations you mentioned should not be any big deal, we've all had those.

Keep up with the physical fitness level you're already at, and it can't hurt to improve where possible. That way you'll be able to breeze right through those stages without a single thought. Failing the fitness regime eliminates a good amount of applicants from LEO jobs, because they don't plan for it or overestimate their own abilities.

Good luck!! It's a great job and I wouldn't want to do anything else.

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Old 11-15-2011, 18:17   #17
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Gotcha. Didn't think you were moving this way, but KSP was doing a hiring process recently. Could have been the one you were talking about, but I didn't think it was.
Please don't get me wrong. I would have been thrilled with the KSP as well! I was only in one process recently though for the Staties here. I am excited to just be done with the process, and am ready to rock and roll in January, provided my date does not get pushed again.
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Old 11-15-2011, 18:27   #18
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Get your degree and join the Marines. If you eventually apply for a cop job, always photocopy your applications so you do not have to re-remember all the addresses, phone numbers etc...
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Old 11-15-2011, 18:32   #19
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I disagree. There is more demand than bodies in my area. That may not be the norm, but its the case in a 25mi radius in my area. My dept would hire 10 more if they had qualified applicants.
Where is this?
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Old 11-15-2011, 20:50   #20
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Thanks for the info. It's a bit of a downer, but I am still gonna give it my best shot. With that to think about, I've already got some good other options with econ or business during those 3 years or however long it takes. Do you know anything about how it is for those living in Colorado? Should I look into taking a few criminal justice courses during my last year?
My agency in northern Colorado has been hiring a lot. We hire 3:1 non-certified to certified officers. And we put people through POST. For us the additional CJ classes aren't necessary. We value life experience and mature thinkers most.

PM me if you need more info.
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