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Becoming a Police Officer (pg. 2)

Job Training

Most big cities have their own training facilities. But smaller police departments send their recruits to a police training academy. That’s where you’ll learn the nitty-gritty: the criminal justice system and law, communications, investigation procedures, defense strategies, and driving and gun use training. Police training lasts around 12 to 14 weeks.

Stiff Competition

Here’s the downside. Law enforcement is a competitive field. And sadly, even if you meet the education and entrance requirements, there’s no guarantee you’ll be accepted into the police training academy. There are just more hopefuls than jobs available. But don’t be discouraged. If you don’t make it, you can always try again another time.

On the Job

But let’s look on the bright side. Assume you’ve made it through the training and you’re in—gun, uniform and all. Here’s the kind of day-to-day responsibilities you’ll be looking at:

  • You’ll be assigned an area where you’ll patrol the streets for law breakers.
  • You’ll respond to calls about robberies, domestic disputes, car accidents, hit-and-runs, shootings, kidnappings, suicides, etc.
  • You’ll collect evidence, serve arrest warrants and keep detailed notes. Documentation is a HUGE part of your job. Hope you’re not afraid of a little paperwork.
  • You’ll work strange hours and possibly weekends. After all, “safety doesn’t take a holiday.”

Promotions and Salary

One great thing about being a police officer is the chance to advance. You can eventually become a sergeant, lieutenant, detective, etc. If there’s an area you particularly like, you can apply for a “special unit.” This means you can work specifically on homicides, robberies, bomb squad and more.

Now for the good part: according to salary.com, the average annual salary in the US is about $50,000. If you factor in all the benefits, it’s more like $70,000. And with promotions, it only goes up from there.

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