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Your Written Exam: How To Think Like A Cop

Sergeant George Gody

3. Protecting Property.

4. Maintaining Assigned Duties — Your effectiveness is compromised if an assigned duty is not maintained, regardless of a seeming misuse of skills or experience.

For example: You are assigned to a specific area during an emergency situation and ordered by your supervisor to stay at this location. But, by leaving this location you can help a seriously injured person and possibly save that person’s life. What would you do? You are justified in choosing to leave your assigned area to help the injured person, even though you are disobeying the supervisors order — provided that leaving your assigned area will not put other lives in danger. Always remember protection of life is the number one priority.

Another example: You are ordered to guard a prisoner. Another officer is assigned to write the arrest report. You are a better report writer than the other officer. If you write the report, both you and the other officer will be able to return to street patrol sooner. What would you do? Do you watch the prisoner or write the report? Answer: you watch the prisoner. Obeying an order is a higher priority than maintaining your assigned duties.

Every police officer operates as part of a team effort. This effort becomes most efficient when all participants operate under the same set of rules and the same hierarchy list. Rank and authority procedures established in the Police Hierarchy list ensure that the department operates as a whole and that individual officers make decisions within judgment parameters based on historical experience and professional consensus.

Recommended techniques for answering police judgment/situational questions:

1. Pay close attention to the information you are provided.

2. Read carefully and thoroughly. Ask yourself questions — is there anything that is a threat to life or is there anything that needs immediate attention?

3. Apply Common Sense, Police Priorities, and Police Hierarchies.

4. Don’t jump to conclusions. Don’t make assumptions. Weigh all the facts before making a decision.

5. Make your decision.

6. Review your decision — do they make sense within the framework of the three fundamentals?

7. Trust your instincts.

The majority of police departments set clear parameters for many types of situations. But, because of unforeseen situations officers face on a daily basis, these parameters cannot cover every possible type of situation. That is why law enforcement agencies test your practical judgment and common sense so intensely. It is also why it is so important to know the priority lists used by police agencies before you take the written test. You must know what they consider the order of importance before you can successfully answer police situational questions.

With careful consideration and thought, you can bring these three defining fundamentals to play in your preparation for police situational test questions. You can develop your police mindset and learn to think like a police officer.

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