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Transition From Army to Law Enforcement.

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Posted over 1 year ago

 

Greetings, I am current serving in the Army (Ft Hood, TX) as a 31B (Military Police). I am interested in a career as a LEO within my home state of Oregon. I currently have exactly 1 year left in service. I had the following questions are getting hired by a police department.


For those that are not familiar with the Army's leave program, I will have 75 days of what is known as "terminal leave" when I get out of the service, this means that I will leave Fort Hood 75 days early and will be getting paid and technically still be in the Army, even though I will not return to Fort Hood after these 75 days, and my enlistment will end. Is it allowable to get hired during this terminal leave period? I have not been able to get a concise answer on this, not even from the ACAP personnell here.


Second, is one year out too early to begin contacting law enforcement departments? I will not be officially out of the Army until January of 2013, so is it even worthwhile to begin sending out resumes this far out?


How do I go about contacting the different law enforcement agencies? I frequently monitor the state's unemployment website for job openings, mainly to see how frequently LEO jobs become available. Is it proper to proactively engage the different LE departments that are not actively hiring? Or should I wait and browse job listings to find departments with openings?


I will be completing my Associates in Criminal Justice in May. I am probably going to be moving back to my home town after I get out of the service, and attending my local community college. What would make the most sense to study at this point? I have been trying to set myself up to get certified as an EMT while in the service, but have not been able to make it work schedule-wise. Would it make me more marketable as a potential LEO candidate to be certified as an EMT in the state? Even though LEOs do not operate in the same function or with the same equipment as an EMT/Paramedic?

Just_passin__thru_max50

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Rate This | Posted over 1 year ago

 

Let's take a look at your questions one by one.


First, It would technically be allowable to be hired during your terminal leave. However, no one will do this because you are still employed by the DoD. It just doesn't happen. You could volunteer your time at a law enforcement agency, but it is not likely you be concurrenty hired.


Second, one year out is not too early to inquire and apply for a position with an agency. The hiring process is a multi-month process anyway. And, you will need to either get hired (after your 75 day leave) and attend the academy or (depending on the agency with which you apply) you might need to put yourself through the academy. All this takes time.


Third, you are in charge of your destiny as far as applying to agencies. Apply to as many as you want. Most agencies now require an online application. You need to decide where you want to work. Inquire directly with them through their H/R department or Personnel Dept. to discover application dates, etc. Some agencies and departments may have a current hiring freeze but they may take an 'interest card'. You submit the interest card and they contact you, usually via email, when positions open up. If you're hot to trot with a specific agency, take the time to do a couple of ridealongs to get to know the jurisdiction, officers/deputies and the operations of that agency.


Fourth, if you entering a LEO career, college study in Administration of Criminal Justice, Criminal Justic Management or similar undergraduate study are good selections for law enforcement. However, a lot of department do not require you to have a specific AJ/AA to apply. You could complete a Socialogy degree and still land a LEO job. Most folks here would recommend you complete your Bachelors before launching into a LEO career. It makes better sense to have this in place for the rest of your life.


Lastly, I wouldn't go after an EMT certificate unless the agency with which you apply requires it or considers it desireable for hiring. You don't need EMT training to be a cop. You'll get First Aid training in the academy. And EMT's and paramedics are generally first responders to a critical incident for medical issues. As a cop, you'll generally not be involved in rendering medical aid.


 


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Rate This | Posted over 1 year ago

 

 Sounds like The Sarge summed things up pretty good for you I believe. I did about the same career path as you are attempting to undertake although I had some reserves mixed in. Contact the agency you are interested in and talk with their recruiters/backgrounds etc. One year out is a good place to start getting yourself marketable. Get as much schooling as possible, that new post 9/11 G.I. Bill is a heck of a deal, take advantage of it. I agree with Sarge that having a degree in Criminal Justice isn't something that you would need. Look at it this way say you did get that degree and L.E. just isn't in your cards, it wouldn't help you in other career fields. Make sure your credit is in order. That's a big one washing a lot of guys out these days. Brush up on your typing and computer skills. Times are-a-changin and much is done via computers especially on the larger depts.


 I know right now you are just looking to get hired but some additional things to check into: Does the dept have a decent retirement? 401k options, retiree medical? What's the vacation/sick leave accrural, uniform allowances, pay step increases etc this will become very important to you as the years move along. While you might find many similarities with the Army it's still a whole new ballgame. Good luck and I hope this helps you a bit in your path.


 


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Rate This | Posted over 1 year ago

 

Thanks for the input thus far.




The reason I asked about a year being too far out is because I won't be back in Oregon until Around Mid-September - October timeframe. I want to get out of the Army with as much terminal leave as possible so I can be home in time to get unemployment set up and get enrolled in school here. So since, I won't be able to attend interviews until I begin terminal leave, is it still a good idea to begin applying?


I have been working towards my AAS in Criminal Justice because that is what interests me most, and the CJ classes can be taken online which fits with my schedule. My CoC doesn't just let me leave for hours during the work-week like most of the Army these days. Either way, I will have my AAS in CJ by the time I get out of the Army. I think I will probably study/get certified in EMT/Paramedic until I get hired as a LEO. That way, if the LEO thing doesn't work out, I am set up to gain employment as a firefighter or EMT/Paramedic. I will also be studying Spanish since I currently only speak English.


 


As far as potential disqualifiers, I have a defaulted credit card on my credit report at the moment, however I am working with Wells Fargo to get that removed. They told me my CC was cancelled before I shipped off to BCT, however the branch here never cancelled the CC, and I was charged a $48 annual fee since I was not using it. Since they didn't have my updated address or phone number, I didn't even know about this until recently, they is a charge off on my credit report. I am pretty confident Wells Fargo is going to remove this though.


I also got in a fight when I was in high school (16 or 17 years old). I got jumped, but because one of the kids got hurt, the parent wanted to press charges. Charges were evidently generated against me, but there is no offense associated with them that I can ascertain. I wouldn't imagine that this would hurt my chances of getting hired too bad.