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AGE: Starting a Law Enforcement Career

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Posted over 1 year ago

 

I was looking through some of these forums and I saw that some of you have either started your careers a little later in life or worked with someone who has. I will be 32 before I can even attend the academy.


 I am wondering what difficulties you guys had with being an older recruit and if you feel it effected the hiring process for you.

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I was 39 when I attended the Academy... It was a rough - I was no spring chicken.. But I knew how bad I wanted that badge and I knew time mangement and just did it.  PT was rough but heck after 20 years in the military I learned to just suck it up and not quit.  You can and will do it -- For the hiring it was easy - after all 20 yrs in military it was quite easy to do the paperwork and the review board was not so menacing. Relax - you can do it.. I did and hundreds more have also made it -

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You are not an older recruit. I've known recruits in their 50's. Relax and take a deep breath. You are way over thinking this.

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I was near your age when I attended, my only obsticle was the p.t. In my defense however I had just had a baby and then surgery.  The surgery was 6 weeks before I started the academy.  Just relax and make sure that you are mentally and physically prepared, it will all be fine!


Above all, we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today’s world do not have.

Ronald Reagan

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Thank you for the advice and yes I am sure I am way over thinking all of this. I am at a stand still with moving forward until my husband gets out so I am trying to research and workout and just get as much information as I can about the current situation with police departments in NC. My husband is always telling me to take a deep breath it will be ok. I have already learned a lot just from browsing the forums and reading replys. It is amazing all the combined experiance and knowledge on this site. I look forward to getting to know more about all of you.


 

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I'm 46 and in the academy right now. Everything is going pretty good, but I strained a ligament in my knee so it's kind of struggle.

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Age is a peculiar thing. With it comes a natural curtailing of what we used to do when we were 15.... jumping off of high things into watery things; driving like complete morons; working endlessly with the ability to pop right up after a few hours of sleep; eat stuff that was completely irrelevant and drink like fishes. All this fades as one gets older. As for the latter, you can die sooner if you keep up a consumption pace likened unto a college sophomore.


Being an academy instructor and Recruit Training Officer, I have been exposed to thousands of recruits and potential recruits. I suggest the same thing to most all young people I meet.


Complete an accredited degree in a concentration of your choice. This will make for one step closer to being a viable candidate for LEO hiring. It also provides a springboard to another career in the event being a cop doesn't work out or your career comes to a sudden and abrupt halt. And that can happen due to a few reasons.


Next, age. Age is not a compelling factor as long as you can complete the academy well. You don't have to be top cadet but being in the top 10% bodes well for the hiring process. The physical training aspect differs from state to state and from academy to academy. Some academies conduct a hardcore PT program that would make a Marine blush. Others are geared more to competency-based learning to equip you for the street. And there are many that lie in between these two extremes.


Being in your 30's presents some interesting future considerations. You would be on the precipice being able to put in 20+ years with the potential of a strong retirement. If you enter the academy in your 40's or older, you have to consider that you might not have enough years to garner the best retirement package due mainly to not enough years in the business. If someone completes the academy in the 50's, it is more or less a second avocation or a hobby. Pushing a black and white in your 50's is not a healthy thing to do. It has been done on the tail end of a career but not really a good idea in the beginning.


So back to your question. 32 is good. Do you have a degree? How is your health? What type of law enforcement environment are you looking for: the laid back 'county mountie' scenario where you may have a call for service once or twice a day in remote areas or the rock-em-sock-em robots of back to back to back to back calls where you hit the ground running nearly all the time in a dense urban environment? Are your perceptions of law enforcement backed up by episodes of COPS or reruns of Police Academy? Do you know what the busiess of policing really is? Have you done multiple ride-a-longs with different agencies to get a sniff of what a real cop environment is? Do you know the distinct differences are between a Sheriff's Department and a municipal police department are? Do you know there are other sworn law enforcement positions in LEO-Land that are not street cop positions?


Will you have a buy-in from your family? [Law enforcement is not marriage friendly. There is a notoriously high divorce rate in our work.] Will you have the support necessary to work endless graveyard shifts? Do you know you will eventually get hurt in law enforcement? Minor or major injury, it doesn't matter. Everyone eventually gets at the very least bruised up?


The folks who have posted behind me are good and steady minded people. They have their own story. Each is particularly personal. You have to know that a law enforcement career can be rewarding and at the same time you will pay your pound of flesh by the end.


Thoughts?


The Guy !
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Joe_Griffin says ...



I'm 46 and in the academy right now. Everything is going pretty good, but I strained a ligament in my knee so it's kind of struggle.


 


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You gotta know, Joe, that with a ligament problem, you are now behind the count (two strikes, no balls, no outs). That particular injury is sketchy because it can rapidly evolve into a year-long heeling event. In the meantime you still gotta grind away at the academy. Whatever your doctor recommends, I would strong suggest you follow it to the 'T'. If in the event this even slight injury prevents you from graduating or continues to be a chronic problem, you could be facing problems later on with hiring. A lot of agencies will not hire damaged goods that have not be resolved.


One of my cadets pushed through a knee problem. He really grinded his way through the academy. He was strong and determined and decided not to really advise anyone of his chronic knee issue. He made it through the academy as 'sponsored recruit' (an agency had hired him and put him through the academy.) Within the first year on the street as a cop, he collapsed and had reconstructive knee surgery. Not good.



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TheSarge says ...



So back to your question. 32 is good. Do you have a degree? How is your health? What type of law enforcement environment are you looking for: the laid back 'county mountie' scenario where you may have a call for service once or twice a day in remote areas or the rock-em-sock-em robots of back to back to back to back calls where you hit the ground running nearly all the time in a dense urban environment? Are your perceptions of law enforcement backed up by episodes of COPS or reruns of Police Academy? Do you know what the busiess of policing really is? Have you done multiple ride-a-longs with different agencies to get a sniff of what a real cop environment is? Do you know the distinct differences are between a Sheriff's Department and a municipal police department are? Do you know there are other sworn law enforcement positions in LEO-Land that are not street cop positions?


Will you have a buy-in from your family? [Law enforcement is not marriage friendly. There is a notoriously high divorce rate in our work.] Will you have the support necessary to work endless graveyard shifts? Do you know you will eventually get hurt in law enforcement? Minor or major injury, it doesn't matter. Everyone eventually gets at the very least bruised up?


 


Thoughts?



********************************************************************************************************************************************************


My husband is very supportive of my decision. My children however are aginst it because of the risk involved. I am almost finished with my BA in criminal Justice and I have a Associates in General Studies. I served in the military for about 3 years. I am in good health but my shape is a little on the round side (I am taking this year to get back into shape before BLET). I do not know everything that would be available to me as of yet. I am working through my college to figure out what options I have. When we move we are done moving so I will only be able to apply for positions around Wilmington NC.


I only had the oppurtunity for one ride-a-long 5 years ago and it was interesting. I am not a big fan of the show COPS and my dad was a patrol man. I come from a really small town where everyone knew everyone and my best friend was an officer. The was one murder in 50 years in my home town so I am not thinking my life will be like something off Investigation Discovery.


I understand the possibility of major injury even death working as an officer but I also understood that when I joined the military. I am going to research the differences between a municiple police department and a Sheriff's department. I am not in a position to do more ride-a-longs now and I actually have no idea how to go about it here I just rode with a friend of mine the first time. I will also research more positions available to me besides a street cop.


 

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I just googled ride along and it turns out a phone call and some paper work will get you sceduled for a ride along with an officer. When in doubt google it . I read on another forum that it is not good to go on a ride along in jeans what would you guys suggest wearing for a ride along?

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Rate This | Posted over 1 year ago

 

Ride-a-longs really require you to NOT look like a inmate. If you can wear nice pants and conservative top [professional casual] then you should be fine. Each department will let you know what to wear prior to an actual ride-a-long.


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Rate This | Posted over 1 year ago

 

I was going to comment on this earlier today, but call load prohibited it :)


Looks like Sarge pretty much summed everything nicely (as usual). Another neat thing about age is maturity. The older recruits tend to not let things get under their skin as much.


I was 32 when I was sworn in and started the academy. There were 3 in my academy class that were older. I also had 15 years Military behind me. That was 20+ years ago (yes, I retired from the Military with 20).


Family support is important!


Best wishes to you!!!


In GOD We Trust (All others get searched, then checked through NCIC)

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Rate This | Posted over 1 year ago

 

I went through the academy when I was 38. Took a couple years to find a job.  I worked in the jail for 2 years and just promoted from Detention to Patrol. I'm beginning my PTO training now (I'm 42 now) but have had a lot of supervisors comment on how they like the maturity I bring to the job. I can do what is required for the job but I'm not a glory hound. I can't bounce back like a teenager. I feel the aches but they come with age. Like I tell the younger recruits, when it comes to a fight, fight smarter. End it quick. When I can't do the job, that's it.


Age is just a number... how do you feel?

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lkdavis71 says ...



Age is just a number... how do you feel?


 


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Wellll,... can't really buy into the 'it's just a number' thing.


Age is a numerical indicator. It gives clues to other things.


How's this for an outrageous illustration: You just found yogurt in the 'fridge with an expiration date of January 2010. Heck, it's just a number, r-I-g-h-t ? Would you eat it .... or plant it !?!?!



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TheSarge says ...



lkdavis71 says ...



Age is just a number... how do you feel?


 


++++++++++++++++++++++


Wellll,... can't really buy into the 'it's just a number' thing.


Age is a numerical indicator. It gives clues to other things.


How's this for an outrageous illustration: You just found yogurt in the 'fridge with an expiration date of January 2010. Heck, it's just a number, r-I-g-h-t ? Would you eat it .... or plant it !?!?!



Great point Sarge.


That was from my own experience.


Some told me I was too old but I knew that I could do it. Yes it is more than just a number and other factors need to be weighed, but that number shouldn't be the major factor. I know I don't have as many years as I would like, but I don't let the years control me.


As for the yogurt, I'd plant it... I hate yogurt.!!

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In this day and 'age', age is not a sole factor anymore. It is only part of the overall formula. If someone found an agency that discriminated based on age alone, heck, ... that agency might as well break out the checkbook and start writing.... wait for it..... numbers !


The Guy !
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