10 Tricks For Picking the Right Department
Dr. Richard Weinblatt
One of the most common questions I get overseeing criminal justice and police academies is from students who want to know what law enforcement agency they should apply to. The answer is not so simple. There have long been a variety of factors to consider when deciding where to apply. This has only become more complicated by the downturn in the economy that has turned the justice job arena from a sellers market to a buyers market.
Job opportunities have become tougher to find as the law of supply and demand has reversed from a few years ago. There used to be more slots than applicants, now there are more applicants than slots. While finding the best-qualified folks is still a challenge for police chiefs and sheriffs, it certainly is easier than it has been before.
Police work is now looked upon as a steady occupation with good benefits. That is something that has become scarce for many people in this challenging economy. The numbers of those applying for police posts has skyrocketed, particularly for destination agencies that are desirable due to their reputation or location (such as Florida).
Much like the private sector, governmental entities have been impacted with shrinking revenue bases upon which to build their police personnel pools. Worse yet for those contemplating a career move into the five-0 biz is the way governmental funding cycles work. Despite what may seem to be a gradual improvement in the economy, many see the next few years as being even rougher than 2010 as one-time federal stimulus funds from the Obama administration will dry up. Tax and other governmental revenue cycles for state and local public agencies also almost always trail that of the private sector.
There are some folks I have spoken with that advocate what I’ll call the shotgun approach to law enforcement applications. This has been especially true due to the desperation caused by the above factors. I do not advocate that approach. I liken that approach to applying for credit. If you get turned down a bunch of times, any prospective creditors will see all the rejections and wonder why and if they should dig further.
It is the same principle behind gas station clerks parking their own car at a gas pump later at night to simulate other potential customers comfortable pulling up. If too many folks bypass the gas station (and no one is there) or you are turned down by many agencies, any prospective target is going to want to go where others would want to go.
So, the idea is to pick wisely.