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What They Won't Tell You About Becoming a Cop

What They Won't Tell You About Becoming a Cop

By John Rossheim

What does it take to become a police officer? Mental and physical strength and agility, patience for a lengthy application process, graduation from a police academy – and a relatively clean police record.

Indeed, for a job that pays a middling wage, is potentially dangerous and sometimes involves long and strange hours, policing is a demanding career. That’s why city police and state troopers tend to be a dedicated, close-knit bunch who do their jobs for the love of serving the public.

The services of police officers are likely to be in high demand for the foreseeable future. Although crime in major cities has declined in recent decades, the looming retirement of the Baby Boomers is expected to drive police departments to hire at a rapid pace through 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). There were about 840,000 sworn police officers – both uniformed patrol officers and plainclothes detectives – in 2002, says the BLS’ Occupational Outlook Handbook.

From growing towns in the Southwest (police officers start at about $46,000 base pay in Mesa, Arizona) to the metropolises of the Northeast (New York City rookies can start at $64,000), there are diverse opportunities in police work. “There are about 18,000 police departments in the United States, but they’re not all recruiting all the time,” says John Doherty, an assistant professor of criminal justice at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York.

Police Work in the 21st Century

Some police chiefs point to recent trends that have changed the job of the patrol officer. Examples include community policing and use of information technology to analyze crime patterns and better allocate law enforcement resources.

But overall, police work is the same as it’s always been. “The job of being a police officer hasn’t changed greatly,” says James Stinchcomb, author of Opportunities in Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Careers. “You still do a considerable amount of time on patrol; it’s very reactive.”

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  • N100000850815812_9139_max50


    over 4 years ago


    with the criminal justice degree you will make more money.that guy is old school.but with that get a second degree in IT or even physical science ,biology,accounting, get that fbi job

  • Images_4__max50


    almost 6 years ago


    This is the type of information not usually told to the public. it is nice that someone has decided to inform those of us who may be interested in law enforcement the basics of what most departments require.

  • Photo_user_banned_big


    over 6 years ago


    i love police work

  • Nightpatrol_max50


    about 7 years ago


    Having worked for over 24 years in law enforcement and being involved in the hiring process, I would like to offer a bit of advice for those maybe considering college. DON'T get a degree in criminal justice. They are a dime a dozen. Get a degree in computer technology, accounting, etc. These are degrees that the fed's like for you to have if you want to go fed. Even if you don't go fed, these are degrees that will help make you a more rounded individual plus help you if you decide after 5 or 10 years that L.E. is not what you want to do forever.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 7 years ago


    this is what i need for class paper is think you for this

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 7 years ago


    sounds great.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 7 years ago

    It's not a walk in the park.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 7 years ago



  • Sparkle_girl_max50


    over 7 years ago


    More good information

  • Remi_by_chris_160_max50


    almost 8 years ago



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