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Getting Serious About Joining the Force

Richard Weinblatt

It’s a New Year and you want to fulfill your dream of landing that cop job. Now that the initial flurry of silly New Year’s Resolutions have fallen by the wayside, let’s get serious. In order to help you on that quest, this Cop Career Counselor column is geared towards helping you shape your New Year’s resolutions towards that goal.

Around 80% of Police Departments and Sheriff’s Offices across the country are experiencing a crisis in recruiting. Some departments have altered their standards in response. The Dallas Police Department just revamped their prior drug usage history for applicants (A one-time, experimental usage of a harder drug such as cocaine is now okay with a ten year or older window).

Be that as it may, the standards are still high in most agencies. Only the most determined of applicants will make it in. The time to alter habits is today (if not years ago). Here are some useful New Year’s Resolutions to replace the initial silly ones.

Have a fitness program- This is an age-old New Year’s resolution. Health club memberships skyrocket this time of year reflective of many people’s desire to better their physique. Be wise. Do your research and start the program under the guidance of medical and fitness professionals.

Toss the Tobacco- Some agencies have enacted tobacco-free policies. As cities in particular have been squeezed by soaring health insurance costs, administrators see the requirement of police applicants to have been tobacco free for a year as a move towards lowered costs.

Clean up the Credit- Do as the financial gurus advise and take stock of your money situation. If you have outstanding bills, contact those creditors and set up a payment plan. Put those high interest credit cards at the top of your list.

Slow Down on the Driving- Police chiefs and sheriffs recognize the high liability they have from their law enforcers driving 6,000 pound weapons. A ticket-laden pre-hire driving record will make any on-duty crash situations into a negligent hiring lawsuit against the employing agency. Try to put some distance between your application and your tickets.

Get New Friends- Don’t be the guy who gets caught on surveillance cameras bailing out bad guys from the county jail. Prospective law enforcers are judged in part by their choice in friends and associates.

Quit Clubbin’- Hanging out at downtown clubs and other places of adult distractions are not conducive to a healthy police career. You don’t want to be the person who ends up being in the wrong place at the wrong time and gets caught in the net. Your explanations as to why you are on the police report will be lost to a background investigator who is wondering why you were in such a place to begin with.

Bag the Baggy Pants- In order to be perceived positively as a future professional law enforcer, you need to dress the part all the time. Putting on the suit and tie when you go to the oral board is not enough. Donning baggy pants for your stroll in the mall will not go over well when you run into the local captain or major doing some shopping with the family. Present yourself professionally at all times as you do not know who will bump into around town.

The time to live the clean police lifestyle is not when you pin on the badge. The answer is actually to the contrary. The time to conduct yourself at the higher standard is now (and really yesterday). Much like the motto “dress for success,” you have “behave better for success” as a police applicant.

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