I've decided to pursue an LEO career... advice please!


Sean Dempsey
December 16, 2006, 10:11 PM
I talked to my cities police department hiring dept, and I have decided I am going to begin the process of joining the force. I am currently 25 with a wife and a 13 month old baby.

I've been thinking about this for a while. And while I'm not 100% sure, I am going to start taking the tests and preparing to apply.

What I need to have is
1. police entrance test, which I can take anytime
2. police academy certification, which is 4 months. I can take it on my own, or if I get hired, they'll pay for it. But since they probably won't hire someone without it, I'm going to do it on my own. I can start in May.

Then I have to wait for the dept. to advertise openings. They say that if I want to try and get hired by the county sheriff's dept, or a correctional facility, that can help my chances of getting hired to be a city officer.

So, I probably have a year before I could potentially be an active office. Are there any LEO's currently working that can offer any wisdom or just plain advice? I feel pretty confident in my decision to PREPARE... now whether or not I'll actually make it as an LEO, has yet to be seen. But I'm going to give it a shot.

I want to be out there doing something with some sort of impact or purpose. Right now I own a web design company, and while it pays okay, it's pretty hollow. the city I live in has about 60,000 people, with the county having around 10,000. It's not a real active crime area (1 or 2 homcides a year, a few forcible rapes, random thefts galore) but it's getting bigger every day (plus we get alot of driftwood from Vegas and south o' the border).

I do have a bachelors degree in psych with over 1000 hours as an intern in a psychologists practice, both private and State. So, I've seen and worked closely with every run of pedophile, drug addict, wife beater, and all the other ilk. I've got a pretty strong "stomach" for staying rational and "professional" when dealing with a father who has been having sex with his kids, or with a meth addict who locks their kids in dog kennels. Originally, I was going to obtain my PhD and be a practicing psychologist... but I think I'd rather climb the ranks of the LEO field and end up mixing law enforcement and my psychology training, eventually getting a masters/phd in profiling or forensics... hopefully ending up in the FBI or something fancy. I don't want to write parking tickets my WHOLE career... =D

So, what does anyone think? I hope this is appropriate for THR, I'm not sure where else to get frank opinions for LEO's and citizens about this decision.

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December 17, 2006, 03:32 AM
I'm not a police officer but have thought about it myself. But I think you should try and go to this forum. It's an LEO forum.


Eddie Ed

4v50 Gary
December 17, 2006, 03:39 AM
Go into Human Resources instead. You work Monday-Friday with weekends off, no shift work. Police work is highly stressful and has a high divorce rate. Depending on your community, it can also be very unrewarding as every action you take is subject to scrutiny by your supervisor, your chief, the media and finally some lawyer who is looking to sue you for every cent you've got.

December 17, 2006, 04:19 AM
I have a friend in similar circumstance. He has become a county sheriff reserve deputy to get experience and to see how it will work. May be the way to go.

December 17, 2006, 05:08 AM
It's not a job for everyone.

Several major issues that go along with police work. Stress on you and your family, the hours worked, pay scale not consummate with type of work done.

Or, have you really sat down and thought about having to possibly take another human beings life if need be in the line of duty & and all the repercussions that go with it - albeit criminal & civil aspects.

Or go to a outing or party and folks find out what you do for a living and see what that's like. just look around here and some of the responses questions about police work and the people who do this for a living.

In my view it's a calling - not just a place to go to work. There are eminently more qualified officers here who will be able to give you a better insight into what is required - both from a professinal and personal viewpoints.

Go into it with both eyes wide open - be willing to learn everyday - human nature is complex - remember who you work for on each call on service - treat each person with same respect that you would want if the shoe was on the other foot.

Some of the best & worst moments of my life have been on duty. Overall its been positive and made me grow as a person for the better i hope.

Good luck.


December 17, 2006, 05:25 AM
+1 to the above comments, and I would suggest that you start running/getting into shape now, if you aren't already, for the police academy.

Just my .02,

December 17, 2006, 06:45 AM
How bout a job that contributes to the tax base instead of taking from it?
You seem to already have the skills to do so.

Steve in PA
December 17, 2006, 07:25 AM
Yeah, we all know that no one in law enforcement or the emergency services contribute to the tax base.


December 17, 2006, 07:43 AM
talked to my cities police department ...

Use correct spelling for the context...in this case, it's "city's".

Father Knows Best
December 17, 2006, 07:54 AM
While I'm not a LEO, I come from a law enforcement family. My brother is currently a LEO in Georgia. Here's what you need to know:

1. You will work long, irregular hours. That means frequest evening and night shifts, work on weekends, and holidays. Your shift will not be a nice, predictable 8 or 9 hours, because you will often spend hours after the end of your shift completing paperwork.

2. Even when not scheduled to work, you may have to work. You may be on call and unable to leave your jurisdiction.

3. You will be an employee of a government agency, and subject to the whims of politicians. The politicians can't do anything efficiently, can't raise taxes without losing their jobs, and can't cut spending on frivilous niceties that various constituent groups clamour for. As a result, you will get low pay, and will get miniscule pay raises, if any.

4. You will have to deal with the worst elements of society on a daily basis. It will test your faith in the basic goodness of humanity, and deeply affect your outlook on life. You will be a changed person. Your family and friends will notice. Some will not like it.

5. Many of those elements would be more than happy to see you die. Some will try to accomplish it if given the slightest opportunity.

6. If and when you use force to protect yourself or the citizens you are sworn to protect, you will likely be castigated in the papers. The homicidal drug pushing wife beater you apprehended or shot will suddenly transform before your eyes into a God-fearing patriot who was destined to bring world peace. Your actions will be deemed "brutality", "excessive force" and perhaps even "murder." You will be sued. It will cause you and your family to suffer emotionally and financially.

7. All of the above will be extremely hard on your family, especially your wife who will wonder every day whether you are safe and coming home that night. It may be more than she can take. It may destroy your marriage.

That said(tm), law enforcement is a noble calling. It's kind of like the priesthood in that way -- no one gets into it for the pay or the perks.

Best of luck to you.

December 17, 2006, 08:47 AM
What the other posts have told you regarding the downsides of the profession are correct. If you insist on going through this, I will offer the following advice learned from my attempt to become a police officer:

1) See if your local department offers a ride along program for citizens. If so, take a deep night shift or two to can get a worm's eye view of the street reality.

2) If you still want to pursue this, consider becoming a reserve officer. This allows you to work as a volunteer officer, and might help you get hired because you are a known entity. You also gain direct experience.

3) Start running and exercising now.

4) Do not get over-enthusiastic and start buying police equipment or guns. IF you are hired, the department will provide you most of the things you will need.

5) Until you are a sworn officer. Don't start talking/acting like a cop. It annoys your friends and family.

6) Get some GOOD handgun training. (Gunsite, Thunder Ranch, etc.)

7) Get some GOOD martial arts training. (Jiu-jitsu preferred.)

8) Do not even consider carrying your personal firearm on duty. Use the issue weapon.

December 17, 2006, 10:44 AM
Former LEO here (bailed and went to computer tech work after 5 years). I'm going to be brutally frank here.

I am currently 25 with a wife and a 13 month old baby.
Knowing what I know now, that right there would keep me OUT of law enforcement. Being an LEO cost me at LEAST 3 relationships. If you do go the LEO road then mentally prepare yourself to at least some marriage counseling because at some point you two will NEED it. Very few "cop wives" really understand about their spouses jobs and there WILL be friction over it. I'm not saying counseling is a bad thing at all, I'm just saying that you should expect it to happen eventually and probably more than once.

If you do ANY kind of "recreational" drugs and I mean ANY, find a different line of work. The type of personality that needs drugs will get eaten up by LEO work and if you get involved with an illegal "souce" it WILL haunt you eventually.

Originally, I was going to obtain my PhD and be a practicing psychologist... but I think I'd rather climb the ranks of the LEO field and end up mixing law enforcement and my psychology training, eventually getting a masters/phd in profiling or forensics... hopefully ending up in the FBI or something fancy. I don't want to write parking tickets my WHOLE career... =D

Well, at least you seem to actually have some sort of goals and such. A plan for starting and a plan for where you want to move up to. I applaud you for that because a TON of the "rank n' file" were the "live for today" types.

I think the bottom line (from me anyway) is to remember that LEO work is NOT a job, it is a LIFESTYLE. Even in a sleepy area you will see things that will be hard to "put away" when you get home. Have a favorite bar? It's likely that you'll stop going there and start going to the local "cop bar" (otherwise it's way to easy to see something that puts you right back on duty <sigh>). It will put stress on your marriage in ways you can't even imagine because being a cop will infiltrate every aspect of your life. Some marriages can handle this, others can't. Friends and neighbors will undergo a subtle change in behavior towards you because now you are "the man" and there is this weird subconscious paranoia that goes along with interacting with authority figures. (EVERYONE has some secret and it seems like we ALL subconsciously worries that "the man" either already knows, or will find out).

If you are going to become a cop then for your own sake (and the sake of everyone around you) spend some "head n' heart" time figuring out what your "moral anchor" is. You will need it to weather the coming storms.

And above all, it'll infect you and stay in your blood like maleria! God help me I've been out for almost 14 years and I still have to curb "cop response" impulses from time to time :D

Being a law enforcement officer can be one of the most rewarding careers that exist. You get frequent and concrete feedback that you are accomplishing something and that you are making a difference, except when the system slips and you get slapped in the face by the very society you are trying to help (here's where you'll need that moral anchor).

I'm not saying "Oh GOD don't become a cop!" by any means, I'm just saying you MUST take the time to truely consider the full ramifications of this decision. Talk to experienced cops (and their wives if they have them), then spend some "heart n' soul" time with yourself, then with your wife.

Good luck regardless of your decision.

December 17, 2006, 10:49 AM
I went through the academy with Mr. LeonCarr (above) about 12 years ago. He's stayed in it, and is happy doing it. I did it for less than 2 years, and got out, and I'm glad I did. It's hard to say who is cut out for it and who isn't. It not only depends on the individual, but also your chosen department and who you work with. I went for the money (if you can call it that :p ), but hated the area and other aspects of the department I was working for. Know thyself, and know what thy is getting into. :)

December 17, 2006, 11:30 AM
I'm not in LEO but I am in almost the exact same situation; same age, wife, kid and everything except I didn't go to college. I've been looking in to the LEO thing as a State Trooper or County Sheriff Deputy. I'm a total square/killjoy and my wife and friends keep telling me I should apply to be a cop :uhoh:

I think your psychology degree will be a big boon. Everyone says Criminal Justice degrees are next to useless. A pyschology degree can be useful in police work.

From what I understand you will have to be a minority/woman or have a very clean record and score high on the tests. You have to have good references, work history and credit history. Also you can't have used drugs in the last 10 years or MJ in the last 3. You will get a polygraph test were they grill you about drug use and sexual deviency. You have to do a written exam. You then get a background check were they basically contact anyone you ever knew and ask them if you ever did something stupid. You have to try and remember all your neighbors from everywhere you've lived at. You get a psychological exam and an oral board interview where they ask you what you would do in various scenarios. If you pass all of that you get an interview with the Sherrif and I guess if he likes you, you get hired. Some PD websites will have the whole process with details and timeframe listed.

Here is the timeline for KS Trooper:


Anyone who's actually been through the hiring process please correct me on anything that is wrong.

Sean Dempsey
December 17, 2006, 11:37 AM
Interesting responses.

I do have Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training, and also I am a certified personal trainer (ACE), not that those things amount to anything, but it was mentioned to get in shape and know some martial arts.

I have never done drugs and I do not drink, so frequenting bars and such isn't much of a concern. Also, I do not really have any friends or family that I hang out with, other than my wife. I do have 1 friend that I do see often, but he's the person who suggested that cop work would be the perfect career. EDIT: I also have no record, never been arrested or in any law trouble.

I understand alot of the sentiments though, albiet a little heavy on the pessimist side, I do understand where you're coming from. Althought, to alot of those, it makes it more appealing. In a way, I do have a good cop personality and lifestyle.

At any rate, I've got a good year or more before it's even a possibility, police academy isn't even an option until May.

Also, I appreciate the spelling correction, I wouldn't want to look bad on an official exam or something. That'd be like being on patrol and not knowing how many bullets are in the clip of my standard issue glok.

December 17, 2006, 12:00 PM
albiet a little heavy on the pessimist side,

You'll find a lot of "cop personality" types (myself included) are "plan for the worst, hope for the best" types. Ask us for advice on anything and we'll help you plan for when the zombies come although we mostly really only expect the mother-in-law :D

Seriously though, police work is often very dark work and nobody should be mislead about that.

Some quotables that apply...

"He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster."
"And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
-Friedrich Nietzsche

December 17, 2006, 12:31 PM
I started two years older then you. Had three small children. When they went to public school I almost never saw them as I worked mostly 3-11PM and midnights. My wife's father was also a police officer so she knew was I was getting into and she was getting into. She basically became a single mom. Pay back then was very poor. In fact well qualified for food stamps.

Not all bad, If I did not do it I would have regretted not at least trying.

Second what someone else said do not purchase any gear until you realize you really need it. Most people starting out purchase to much of their own gear and the dept. will supply most of it.
I have puchased my own rifle prior to the department issuing rifles. I have purchased my back up hand gun also. I have paid for a lot of my own training as I have felt that was very important.

Also do not make all your friends police officer's. In fact I now make it a point not to hang out with cops. It will give you a us vs. them attitude.

NH Hillbilly

4v50 Gary
December 17, 2006, 12:42 PM
feedthehogs said:

How bout a job that contributes to the tax base instead of taking from it?
You seem to already have the skills to do so.

That raises the inference that LEOs are exempt from paying local sales, state or income tax. I've heard "I pay your wages" so many times and my reply generally is, "And I pay more in taxes than you receive in welfare." You know who else is on the public payroll? Librarians, firefighters, street cleaners, park rangers, museum curators and conservators are also on the public payroll. Should they be laid off because they are? I think the statement of taking from the tax base is an insult to LEOs and all civil servants.

December 17, 2006, 12:47 PM
and current brother are/were LE.
I only know you from thr so there is a possibility I may be wrong
but I feel you are not suited to do the job.
About a month ago you said that no "Court
in the land" would accept a "Mosambiquie" that indicates
a tendency to rush to judgment. (to me at least, I could be wrong)
how many bullets are in the clip of my standard issue glok.
I am sure others will inform you soon enough about that.

December 17, 2006, 01:00 PM
I've thought about taking the test and signing up for the Deputy Sheriff training around here. The problem I ran into is the pay scale. I couldn't support my family on what they pay. I'd always wanted to be an officer. Around here the top starting pay was $35K a year. Not enough to keep the family supported. Even had my local chief of police offer to write a recommendation letter. I've got 5 years until I'm too old to join so it may still happen. :D


December 17, 2006, 01:10 PM

Sean Dempsey
December 17, 2006, 01:26 PM
A note about the pay: I have a web design business that I work fulltime out of the home, but all through college I was able to run it as a "side job" in my free time. With my established clients and employees now, I'd probably be able to stay on as owner/supervisor, and put in time where I can.

And for the comments about how it takes a "certain type" and there's a dark, dangerous side to police work, that's sort of why I am pursuing it. I feel like I *am* the type to be a successful cop, and thats not a self-compliment, hardly! All the good and bad personaly traits cops are famous for, I definitley have.

Right now with my limited experience in the LEO world, it seems like a good fit. It's either this or I stay as the owner of a web design company, which really doesn't do much for me, but it's the only thing I'm good at, and frankly, I am not sure how long I want to do it.

December 17, 2006, 01:49 PM
Also, I appreciate the spelling correction, I wouldn't want to look bad on an official exam or something. That'd be like being on patrol and not knowing how many bullets are in the clip of my standard issue glok.

December 17, 2006, 01:54 PM
Easy big fella. I don't particularly like the occasional "Anti-POLICE" comments either. There's over 38,000 individuals registered with this forum and I see a lot more pro-police comments. In any group of people from any place in the free world there's going to be so called anti-law enforcement types. It's a strange coincidence, but I found during 33 years of "street work" "antis" and coppers will eventually cross paths during official business. Seems some antis are more prone to other than lawful acts. I'm talking serious "antis" now. The nines and tens on the scale. Anonymous comments on the internet only rate a one or two on the same scale.

4v50 Gary
December 17, 2006, 03:13 PM
What Win71 says, chill out real name. There's only one post in this thread that I detect cop bashing. Most are favorable or present a realistic view of what happens when one becomes a LEO. If Sean Dempsey wants to become a LEO, more power to him and a big thank you from the members of THR. However, he should be aware that it's not a glamorous career and that there's a very real likelihood that he may not come home at all. He'll be dealing with the worst that society can offer. It can be very thankless task for which the public will show little appreciation.

December 17, 2006, 04:34 PM
Sean, as you already have a degree in Psychology, you might look into applying to the FBI.

I know they look for people with skills such as you have. Pay scale is better than most smaller departments. Might have to move around a bit, but what the hey? See the country.


December 17, 2006, 04:40 PM
I want to be out there doing something with some sort of impact or purpose.

Become an EMT or firefighter instead.

December 17, 2006, 04:47 PM
I am not an LEO, and I decided to stay in the private sector doing work for corporations and individuals instead due to some talks with LEOs. The bigges thing that turned me off of LEO work was the desire most of us have to make a difference, and the frustration of arresting the same people, or watching the wife beater or armed robber, etc get out again and again. Most of the cops I know still enjoy the job but feel a constant sense of meaningless work simply because they watch their hard work go out the window again and again. I am not saying NOT to become an LEO, but if you really want to make a difference, it may not be the best job for you since the legal system and politicians are constantly working against you. As someone said perhaps a fire fighter, EMT, or even a federal job may be better?

December 17, 2006, 04:50 PM
You know what you're getting into and what to expect as you stated in your intern experiences. This factor I would put as the heaviest on the head for this line of work. I think this is the biggest hurdle and you already have a many hours "handling it." Pursue what makes you happy and don't look back.

I second on the, apply for the FBI immediately, recommendation. Your psychology background will open many doors with the feds that a rookie beat cop's experience won't. The fact that you already possess a degree illustrates you ability to commit and follow through.

I will also second on joining the Coast Guard. My brother is in the Coast Guard and did a lot of law enforcement work. He was stationed in New Orleans during Katrina and did a lot of armed escort type work. It sounds like he really enjoyed it. However, in the Coast Guard, I think he's had about three different careers now. He used to be one of the guys on the boats rescuing people in Alaska waters for a big part of it, then pursued the law enforcement side in New Orleans, and has now switched gears yet again. He now runs a dry dock in Ketchikan, Alaska and certifies all the ferries that run to and from the Seattle area. Quite a run for a 15 year career and he's only about 35 now. And he is financially very well off in near 6 digit income. However, his career has advanced about twice as fast as his peers because he is a "company man" through and through. His career is his driving force in his life, not his wife or kids. It has come at a cost, but he is still married to a woman that's likely much stronger than himself simply because she can put up with all the crap that military brings to a family. Granted, the CG is not military proper, but you have to say yes a lot more than you think is my opinion. I think this angle would offer the most opportunities to you should you be willing to cope with them moving you every year or two. This is hard on his family and I see it take it's toll because he runs like a horse with blinders on and really is not very sympathetic to his family's needs as much as his own personal agenda.

I think it's like any job that can offer high stress situations. You have to love it and say "yes" a lot, and if you don't like that, you might want to pursue other angles since they don't hire police chiefs straight out of college. Personally, I would never ever even consider becoming a LEO. It's not that I don't have respect for the law, it's just that it's a dirty job, it really doesn't pay well, and you have to be there to partcipate in some of the very worst moments in peoples lives. And then see them released to start the same pattern all over again. More power to those that can handle it, I'm simply not built for it.

December 17, 2006, 04:54 PM
I was a LEO for 12 years and then had to retire due to kidney failure and having to go on Dialysis and i miss Law Enforcent Work so much . When you go in its not just a job but its a life style i think and since you are married i think its one your wife has to be onboard with because it dose affect her as well. One suggestion i have is try to make contact with a cop with several years experience and have a heart to heart with them and about the work and family life.

December 17, 2006, 06:37 PM
With a wife and kid to support, I suspect the FBI pays a lot better than your local police force.

December 17, 2006, 06:41 PM
Great thread! I'm in the process of applying at a bunch of agencies as well here in IL. I even applied and already took the written for CPD (yeah, yeah, I know...:neener: ) I'm just waiting for the physical.

But in the northeast part of IL, LEO's are paid pretty decent. I think CPD starts around $45K and you're up to $57K within 18 months. Even most of the small suburban departments start in the high $30's to low $40's.

I have BA's in Psychology and Criminal Justice. I have 6 years of martial arts experience, I'm an NRA Basic Pistol instructor, I have 3 years of private investigation and security work and I also speak fluent Cantonese.

I don't know why I waited so long to apply but the good news is that I'm still young (27). I know I can pass the physical tests easily as I already work out and cover the 1.5 mile run in 13 minutes flat without any training but I'm going to knock that time down.

What are my chances of getting into LE?

Having worked 3 years in my current field of private investigations and security, I'm aware of the things that people will do to one another. I guess I've learned to not take it personal.

December 17, 2006, 06:50 PM
1st - if it is something you want to do, go for it. It is not an easy way to make a living and you will be under alot of daily stress and there will be sacrifices to make - don't fool yourself on that. Make sure it's something you & your your family can live with.

2 - Go to your local cities, counties maybe even highway patrol and put out interest cards they will all hire at some time & your name w/ as many as possible will get you hired on sooner

3rd - start running & working out - even if you don't get in, you'll be healthier & happier for it ;)

December 17, 2006, 07:05 PM
My advice being a Indiana Reserve Officer - become a reserve. Now not all states are the same and do not have the best programs. Indiana Reserve Law Enforcement Officers have statewide powers of arrest once the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy 40 hour prebasic has been completed. You may want to check that route out and see if its right for you. We also have paid details such as state required security for school, county functions paying between $15-18.75 an hour depending on your venue. Like they say "Part time duty, full time pride" (US Army Reserve, 2006) haha.

December 17, 2006, 07:07 PM
A friend of mine was all set to join the local PD until the interveiw. They asked him what he would do if he pulled over a drunk driver and they turned out to be a politician. He said he'd treat them like anyone else. The interveiwer said that the correct answer would be to let them go. My friend simply got up and left.

December 17, 2006, 07:20 PM
If you want aLEO job come on out here to Cali., San Francisco can't give em away. They are advertising all over the place and still, I believe hundreds of officer's short. But of course many departments in the state are hurting for qualified applicants... I wonder why?

December 17, 2006, 07:22 PM
I'd strongly consider law school and becoming and Assistant DA. The hours are more regular, and the pay is better. You still get to put the bad guys away, and your chances of getting shot are much lower. Plus you can set yourself up for another career after you retire from being an ADA.
I would not recommend a career in the FBI, as they are becoming more and more geared towards bureacracy and domestic counterterrorism (which sounds cool but is generally boring to the point of tears; if you want federal law enforcement, go DEA- they have lots of fun).
In any event, understand that becoming a cop drastically increases your chances of becoming divorced and/or dependant on drugs/alcohol, all for low pay and little respect. You don't become a cop if you think you might like it. You become a cop if you can't imagine doing anything else.
Just my two cents.

December 17, 2006, 07:28 PM
How old are you? Join the Coast Guard if you want an exciting job!!

December 17, 2006, 08:03 PM
This is a good thread. I have been wanting to become an LEO for some while, and am actually enrolled in criminal justice classes, but never bothered to post any questions on the forum for fear that they would be off-topic as they were not gun related.

December 17, 2006, 08:20 PM
Go join the Sheriff's department, instead of the Police department.

Here in Los Angeles, you start out in the jails and once your 5-year term is up; you'll be better prepared working with criminals in an enclosed area. You learn to put them in their place and master take-downs.

LAPD have a hard time with BG, because they know all the tricks on how to overcome a cop. But you mess with a Sheriff, who already has experience in the jails...then you have a better advantage.

Go Sheriff.

December 18, 2006, 05:27 AM
& you put your rounds in a magazine not a clip.

Also, I appreciate the spelling correction, I wouldn't want to look bad on an official exam or something. That'd be like being on patrol and not knowing how many bullets are in the clip of my standard issue glok.

December 18, 2006, 06:13 AM
I think he was screwing with you all.

December 18, 2006, 07:01 AM
f you want aLEO job come on out here to Cali., San Francisco can't give em away. They are advertising all over the place and still, I believe hundreds of officer's short. But of course many departments in the state are hurting for qualified applicants... I wonder why?

Interesting to see that starting pay for the SFPD is $64,347 to $84,513. LAPD starts at $56,898 with a BA/BS. I have lived in both cities and the standard of living for each is similar.

December 18, 2006, 06:18 PM
I think he was screwing with you all.

No, he is serious.
I have a friend in the Navy who's spelling is just as bad
and is applying to various LE agencies....but at least he can spell Glock
and knows the difference between a magazine and a clip.

In another thread a while ago Sean stated If you mozambique someone, there's not a court in the land that will let you off. have fun in prison.

When pressed for a cite or link or any evidence to back up his assertion by myself and others the result was a resounding silence.

(it was a thread about fighting and self defense with ccw)

I have a friend who is a SFPD police officer who doesn't have a clue
about knife law and thinks that you are only allowed a 2 inch blade.

There are enough cops out there who bring their prejudice and ignorance with them on the job.

I bet 80% of younger NYPD officers think NY gun laws are to soft and the 2nd
Amendment means the Nat Guard!

December 18, 2006, 07:02 PM
IMO, law enforcement is both a calling and a lifestyle, that has been mentioned above. I went on a number of ride alongs before going into the academy at the young age of 18 and graduating #2 in the class. During 1 of the ride alongs, the cop who I was friends with and riding with, got involved in a very violent shoot-out which opened my eyes to a different world. I loved it and coped with it pretty well.
It is not for everyone. I was in LE for 5 years and it is a good thing I wasn't in any real relationship at the time because it wouldn't have lasted. It is very strenuous and I don't think 95% of spouses understand the toll it takes, which leads to fights, drinking, cheating, etc..
I got out of LE for a number of reasons, even though I LOVED it. Main reasons being: getting shot at sucks; going to grand juries sucks; working some of the worst streets on the east coast USA by yourself with no partner will test your physical and mental toughness and can get very crazy very quickly; seeing friends killed in the line of duty; having recurring dreams with a terrible outcome; money is OK but not commensurate with duties; I found myself becoming a very non-trusting, cynical, confrontational bastard and I didn't like who I was becoming neither did some of my best friends who decided they didn't like it either; etc.
I found the best parts of the job to include: being part of a brotherhood that has a very strong bond no matter where you go; doing something that really matters and really does help people most of the time; no day is ever the same; free meals; drinks, lap dances:) with badge; finding myself in the role of a father, doctor, psychologist, lawyer, life saver/protector, and sometimes someone's only friend...all in just one day's work.
If you have to pay for the academy yourself, start saving unless you have cash to hold you over for 5 months. You will not want to have to work 8 hours at night after spending all day in the academy, if it's anything like where I went through. Start at 6:30am - finish about 4 or 5pm. Then have 2-3 hours of homework or typing all notes, like we had to do. You can see where not only will you be tired and honestly probably not do well in the academy because of that, but you won't see your family that much. If your wife is cool with that and you paint the entire picture for her to see, including the fights and hardships that will come after becoming LEO, then go for it. Like some said, it is a very rewarding personal career but understand what you are getting into.
I left it and do regret it from time to time but I know I made the right decision in the long run.

And if I spelled a few words incorrectly and forgot some punctuation or other grammatical errors, then please all the anal grammar nazis correct me immediately :banghead: :banghead:

December 18, 2006, 07:27 PM
Well, at least you have a shot at more rural stuff (unless you're hip deep in SLC).

We have a THR member, who is entirely at fault in leading me to this forum, known as LawDog.

He maintains a blog. Very entertaining. In between the lines there are some sobering thoughts. Read his stuff, if you have not already. Talk to him. He's a man of penetrating insight.

He's more rural. He seems to enjoy what he does. He also has some perspective resulting from his diverse upbringing.

He's not with a city metro outfit, though. He's with a sheriff's department.

My brother is a private detective and works closely with LE on a regular basis. He has intimated some insights on this.

That line of work will test your "personal inner toughness" in ways that few other jobs will. It helps immensely if you have solid connections with your community, and good spiritual support. My brother made the point that a good relationship with your minister/bishop/pastor will do more for your sanity than a whole bracket of psychologists -- kind of ironic, given your education.

Now that I think of it, have you considered private sector gumshoe work?

December 18, 2006, 07:55 PM
Sean, I retired 18 months ago after 4 years as a municipal police officer and 27 years with a federal agency. You will learn a lot more faster as a local, even working in patro, than you do in the federal government. Federal agencies are where the money is. Don't look at just the FBI but ICE and Secret Service. There are also US Park Police, USFWS, DCIS, IRS and an entire alphabet of federal agencies. The easiest to get into is the Border Patrol and that may not be a bad idea. If you learn how to work the border you'll be prepared to work just about anywhere except maybe a big city. It's easier to get into another federal agency if you're already in one. I would debate one's advice to work corrections first as corrections deals with criminals in a controlled environment.

No matter what the federal agency you need to be able to relocate. If you don't want to relocate then look locally.

Federal agencies can be more demanding than local agencies. Local agencies may call you in and such. Working for a federal agency I sometimes found myself leaving for work in the morning and unexpectedly wind up being gone for 3-4 days. If your wife wants to work she cannot count on you to be home to take care of the little nipper. If you get hired by a federal agency be prepared to be away from home for 8-24 weeks of basic training (VA for FBI, SC for Border Patrol, and GA for everything else.

Sean Dempsey
December 18, 2006, 07:58 PM
I actually live in southern utah, which is pretty much all rural except for one town of about 60,000.

I've gotten a handful of PM's from people interested in answering further, detailed questions, so I appreciate everyone who has shown an interest in giving some advice.

December 19, 2006, 12:51 AM
well I spelled checked and your spelling is pretty good.

Now be sure to know how many bullets are in the clip of your glok
before you you mozambique someone:evil:

Pardon moi, si vous plait, if I expect a cop to know how to spell Glock.

December 19, 2006, 01:11 AM
Yup Federal LE is the same as Military LE - be willing to move around.

December 19, 2006, 10:24 AM
SF vet, moving around when in federal LE depends on a several things. I made 3 moves in my first 5 years and although my duty station changed, lived in the same place for my last 22 years. If you want to climb the management ladder most will move several times in their career. I know a Special Agent in Charge who is getting ready to retire and has never moved for over 30 years.

December 19, 2006, 01:36 PM
Slow down, you're jumping the gun here. No matter how much you expect cops to be able to spell "Glock" Sean isn't a cop yet. Thanks to you, if he does become a cop he will certainly know how to spell "Glok". He probably won't forget how to spell "Gunsmith" either.

December 19, 2006, 01:57 PM
I am planning on joining the reserve sheriffs in my county. More for the fact that i want to join search and rescue. I would say join a reserve something before truely joining fulltime.

December 19, 2006, 03:13 PM
Not that I really care, but I still think he was screwing around on the spelling part. He called rounds "bullets", he called a magazine a "clip" and his GLOCK a "Glok" all in one sentence. If he's been on this forum longer than an hour than he knows the difference, and also knows how to jerk someone's chain.

Back on topic: Is your acadamy really 5 months? Damn. I talked to the Captain here in SC and he said it's only 6 weeks.

December 19, 2006, 03:31 PM
Academies vary. In TN, the state academy is 8 weeks. However, if you hire on at say Knoxville PD, their academy is 6 months. The state academy requires you to stay at the academy during the week, working from 6am to 10pm usually. Knoxville's academy is a 9-5 stint that covers the POST certifications AND KPDs general orders and procedures. I know that most of the larger departments in TN do have their own "academies."

December 19, 2006, 07:40 PM
start to view all humanity as a massive herd of criminals. Get religion, and cling to it. You're about to immerse yourself in a very murky, potentially depressing world. I say again: STAY POSITIVE ABOUT THE HUMAN RACE. Cops can become unimaginably inhuman.

December 20, 2006, 12:25 AM
Pardon moi, si vous plait, if I expect a cop to know how to spell Glock.

And pardon me, please, if I expect someone using French to actually be able to speak French.
It's 'S'il vous plait'. As in 'if you please'.
And Pardon moi?
Did you mean 'pardonnez-moi' or 'excusez-moi'?
Both make sense but 'pardon moi' is gibberish.
But you spelling it wrong wasn't as funny as him intentionally misspelling Glock and getting you worked up.

December 20, 2006, 12:34 AM
Could we, like, y'know, sort of stay on topic?


I believe we were discussing a young man's loss of sanity and his decision to subject himself to the darkest recesses of man's inhumanity to man.

No need to wander off down some path of
"did not"
"did too"
"sez you"
"yo momma"

If you must punch each other's noses, could y'all take it outside?

December 20, 2006, 07:01 AM
about 35 years ago...
I think....hmmm...cant really remember exactly....:evil: 'pardonnez-moi' ...yeah thats it.

Thank you Mon Cheri!

December 27, 2006, 12:18 PM
How bout a job that contributes to the tax base instead of taking from it?
You seem to already have the skills to do so.


I'd love to see you out there pulling over a vehicle on a rainy night, not knowing who, or what you are going to run into, and then get shot at. You also get to enforce laws that everyone hates, working lousy hours and every holiday, never get to see your kids or family, and make a rich 35K a year doing it before paying taxes. :banghead: Yeah, they're such a drain on society. :barf:

December 27, 2006, 12:22 PM
Amen tinygnat!

Spreadfire Arms
December 27, 2006, 01:04 PM
congratulations on taking the first steps into a very honorable line of work. i would for one not ask for advice on how to be an LEO on THR, since THR is fairly rife with anti-LE sentiment. you'll probably be labelled a JBT (jack booted thug) on here shortly. :rolleyes:

December 27, 2006, 02:20 PM
If you are in grad school for a PhD, I would suggest that you either become a probation or parole officer. In some states these functions are combined. The hours are more regular so there is less chance they would interfere with part-time schooling. I got too master's degrees while a probation officer.

December 27, 2006, 04:12 PM
...have to ask, does being a Type 1 (insulin injection dependant) diabetic prevent your application for any form of LEO? It is a big NO sign when attempting to sign up to the armed forces (learned that real fast :mad: ) but never investigated the LEO path...


December 27, 2006, 05:32 PM
I think its a wonderfull idea.
There are just way to many snot noses out there on the street. What i mean is "KIds"(just out of high school) wet behind the ears, takeing a 2 year course, then trying to out-do each other with the ticket book.
We need more people to step into the field after they know a little more about life. Now we do get good officers now and then but the inexperenced snot noses sure make it hard for the good ones to be seen.

Good luck
We need you


December 27, 2006, 10:28 PM
Others have mentioned it, and I will repeat.

Run. Get into shape now. Run, run, run. Get yourself into excellent shape. It will make the rest easy. Pushups, situps, running. Weight lifting is ok, but master your own weight, and more than anything else-run! If your cardiovascular system is in good condition, it will make the rest a breeze. It will help your shooting, your PT, defensive training, even classroom time is easier if you are in better shape.
Don't forget to study.
Good luck!

Phil DeGraves
January 3, 2007, 04:29 PM
"...pay scale not consummate with type of work done."

I am so sick of hearing how "poorly paid" cops are. About 25% of them do all the work and the other 75% spend their time "retired on duty". As has been mentioned, pay is upward of $50,000 base plus a ton of OT if you want it. The retirement plan is 20 years and full pay. I suppose that a lot of it depends what part of the country your in. A long time ago, cops weren't paid much at all, but like school teachers salaries, that at least has changed. They get a pretty good package when you include pay and bennies, for the amount of work done.

January 3, 2007, 05:16 PM
That pay scale will vary. Where I am, TDPS (small town in Texas) gets about 30k, give or take, you can say a little less. 12 hour shifts and they not only do LE work, also fire. They get their monies worth out of ya'.
But, bottom line you have a choice to take it or leave it. To me, it will depend on what your looking for, a state/city will a Low crime rate, or a high crime rate.
Just a note: the city where I am is a low crime rate 2 homicides in 2 years. No pun intended to the dept. where I am or to the city.
Code Enforcement, you could say, works harder. Honestly, that's the way I like it. I don't like CE giving me tickets for having my grass growing too high (no more than 12 inches), though.
Where I am their is a lot of business for traffic, traffic violations.

January 3, 2007, 05:23 PM
I'm planning to apply for my local PD. Want to be active, rather sitting all day.

Excuse me while I run a couple of miles.

January 3, 2007, 05:32 PM
Never said being a cop wasn't an honorable profession.
Never said doing a cops job for 35k a year wasn't a thankless job.

What I was refering to was the ever overbloated payroll that is tax payer supported. And yes it is a drain on society.
You reduce this payroll, you can reduce the amount of money that is stolen from me every year come April 15.

This country was built on private enterprise lest you forget, not public supported payrolls.

The original poster according to his bio, certainly had the qualifications to be part of that private enterprise system.

Father Knows Best
January 3, 2007, 06:02 PM
As has been mentioned, pay is upward of $50,000 base plus a ton of OT if you want it.
Holywha! Where do YOU live? 'cause that is most certainly WAY above starting pay in Georgia, which is where my brother is an LEO.
The retirement plan is 20 years and full pay.
A citation would be nice, because again, my family's experience (brother is an LEO and dad is ex-LEO) says that's not generally the case.
I suppose that a lot of it depends what part of the country your in.
Um, yeah. Are those figures from Beverly Hills, maybe?

Seriously, my brother has been with his department for 12 years now. He's got all kinds of special certifications and is a member of the SWAT team. He made Sargeant quite a while ago, and does stints as a training officer. He's just now breaking the 50k mark, and his retirement plan sucks.

On the other hand, I am well aware that pay scales for police officers are higher in the midwest than they are in the south, but I still don't think the typical entry level LEO makes 50k/year base outside of perhaps a few major city departments, or ultra-competitive state patrols.

January 3, 2007, 06:39 PM
Everything in law enforcement depends on where you live and what agency you work for. The person who began this thread lives in southern Utah. If he is interested in being a cop in that area, then much of this other commentary is pointless because it doesn't address his situation.

When shopping for an agency:
(1.) Find out what they pay
(2.) How much VOLUNTARY overtime is available?
(3.) How often might you be ordered in or held over? It happens to all of us sometimes, and in some places, becuse of the staffing level and the amount of calls for service it happens A LOT. That makes it difficult to plan anything outside of work and can interfere with daycare.
(4.) Do they rotate shifts or do they work straight shifts? Some places have you rotate from days to evenings to midnights. Some places may have you rotate in relief between two shifts, and others just have straight shifts.
(5.) How does the days off rotation work?
(6.) How easy is it to get time off and how much notice do you have to give?
(7.) Do shifts get picked on an annual basis, or do you get hired and put into a spot and don't have an oppertunity to move until their is a vacancy?
(8.) Do you have a union? How detailed is your contract?
(9.) How much leave time do you get in a year? How much sick time? Does sick time accumulate?
(10.) Being a cop means nights, weekends, and holidays. Depending on circumstance and your expectations, that can be really hard on family life. Or not that big a deal.
(11.) Rookies in most places start on the midnight shift. If you can't get accustomed to working the late shift, being awake at night and sleeping during the day, maybe being the police is NOT a good idea for you.
(12.) If you work the evening shift you won't see your wife & kid much.
(13.) What kind of arrangements can you make for child care?
(14.) How well is the agency staffed? How well are they equipped? Do you have a reasonable oppertunity for specialized training? Do they pay education incentive for your degrees?
(15.) How is the retirement program?

It's hard to make any kind of blanket statement about police work as a career because there are WAY too many variables from agency to agency and from one part of the country to another.

(I'm fortunate. I've been on straight 11p-7a BY CHOICE since 1977, because I'm a night person. I like the flexibility of working nights. My evnings are free to do things with family & friends and to do recreational things EXCEPT that I can't drink before going to work. We have rotating days off, reasonable pay and benefits and reasonable oppertunity for voluntary overtime. As much as a few of the guys at my PD bitch and whine about everything, we have it pretty good, and they're too dumb to realize it)

If you're married and have a wife & child, then you also have resonsibilities as a husband and father. Which means you need to be home sometimes. Don't make the mistake lots of guys do, and get hired on, work evenings so you don't see your family much anyway, and THEN get on specialized units like SWAT or Search & Rescue or Narcotics or something, which places even more of a demand on your time. Take a good interest in your career, feel free to pursue interesting training & education on your own time and at your own expense once in a while, but don't let the job become your life. If you have kids, having a job assignment where you have to carry a pager and be on call all the time may NOT be a good idea . . .

Lots of guys work all night and then babysit all day, and then try to catch a nap before going back to work at 11pm. They spend their whole life all jet lagged and burned out, and they never get to see their wife. Try to avoid that at all costs if you want to be effective at work and stay married.

And if your non-police friends become uncomfortable or act weird around you because you're a cop, you probably need new friends . . .

January 3, 2007, 07:00 PM
I've got a good friend who is at the end of his Federal Marshall career, another guy just retired from the Texas DPS, another has ridden motors in Dallas PD for 20+ years, another 18-year vet in the Abilene PD and a few more. To a man they say it isn't like it used to be. Every one of them thought it was an honorable profession when they went in. Now the ones close to retirement are counting the days and trying to stay out of sight. I don't think many of them make an argument that its the honorable profession they thought it was when they went in. Most of them have been in trouble with their departments to the edge of being fired. The fed three years ago got assigned to run the evidence locker and announced his intention to audit it, run it straight up and let the chips fall as they might. That was some trouble. After many threats they sent him to Iraq instead.

The fed was a sniper at Ruby Ridge, by the way, and the DPS guy watched the FBI load the famous metal doors, both of them, into a truck and drive off the Davidian Compound. (He testified about it in the trail, and endured several years of cold faces in the dept.) The Dallas motor cop stopped chasing people if they ran ten years ago. The Abilene PD guy refuses to shoot people, though he has the chance to about once a month. He says the young officers all shave their heads and "want to make their bones."

They have had interesting careers. But it's cost them.

I think if you were a single guy, that's one thing, but you would be taking your family into this. All of my friends are great guys but all of them have been married multiple times. The Fed has been married FIVE times, and isn't happy with the wife he has now. My friend I went to high school with that is the local public affairs officer is a secret drunk.

Every legislature in the country, plus the Feds, are cranking out an amazing cacophony of laws and regulations...and guess who is charged with enforcing those laws? And the rate of lawmaking is going up, up, up. Are you really sure you want to go into that mixmaster? Help enforce that.....stuff...against the population?

I'm sure you saw the video of the CHP guy mugging the lady in NO while lots of fed, local PD, armyMP and other LEOs stood around...and watched. Nobody lifted a hand or said a word. Because they thought it was RIGHT- to mug little old ladies. That's modern policing. Do you want to be part of that? Go behind that wall? It's going to get worse, not better.

There are plenty of interesting lives to be lived. Join the Army Reserve. Be a fireman. Join the Marines. Join the Coast Guard. Go to law school. Keep doing what you are doing but ramp it up to become a millionaire. Be an American. But please be very cautious about taking your family into law enforcement. It's not what it used to be.

But of course, if you do decide to do this, good luck and best wishes to you, your wife and that baby. Just don't go in with your eyes closed. As you have heard from many of the threads above, it's an exceedingly difficult, complex, conflicting and stressful career choice.

January 3, 2007, 09:18 PM
I applied and did the written for Chicago Police 2 months ago. Their starting pay is about $44K a year, a bump to $54K after 1 year and then $57K after 18 months. Not too bad but you have to live in the city.

Am I going to do it for life? Honestly, I don't know. What I do know is that I want to go back for my Masters degree eventually and maybe get into something higher paying with less risk. But I'm a single, 27 year old guy and I want to live life some.

January 3, 2007, 10:08 PM
I can't help but comment on some of the statements complaining about low pay in the law enforcement field.

Pay in most careers has little to do with "how hard" the job is, but much more do with how much training and experience the job requires. $35K sounds pretty low, but what do you expect about a job that requires 6 weeks of training? Surgeons don't get paid surgeon money because it is SUCH a hard job (it certainly can be hard), but because surgeons have 14 years of education/training AFTER high school.

Ask a fruit picker what they make. And although it has little risk involved (unlike some law enforcement positions), it is a tough job too.

January 4, 2007, 12:31 AM
And how much you get paid also depends on where you work, and the size of the municipality that you work for . . .

In my state, you need 60 college credits to get hired as a police officer. Functionally, since the late 1970s,for the most part, if you were a white male and wanted a police job, nobody would look at you seriously unless you had at least an associate degree. (This did NOT necessarily apply until to women & minorities until the law changed in 1993).

I don't know of any agencies in my state that require a batchelor's degree, but one certainly helps to get hired.

And then in other places in the country, all they need to get on is a High School diploma or GED . . .

The requirement for Academy training varies significantly state to state. In Wisconsin, its 520 hours minimum (13 weeks). Other states, it's more than that or less than that, and some larger agencies that run their own recruit academy have longer training periods.

It's just about impossible to make general statements about police work, because things vary so much area to area in the country . . .

January 4, 2007, 12:38 AM
This is not really a firearm or gun related subject for this message board. :rolleyes:

Before it's closed you may want to go to these LE employment websites/message boards;

www.officer.com www.lawenforcementjobs.com www.aslet.org www.fleoa.org www.usajobs.opm.gov www.firstgov.gov .


January 4, 2007, 02:42 AM
good thread...i'm looking at the same career, i'll be 19 in feb. im in the Marine Corps Reserve as of now and a few of the guys at the unit work as LEO's.

my question is whats the pros and cons city vs county?

im thinking city has better benefits (sp) and a smaller force, and not as much politics?

i worked for the Broward sheriff's office part time in the motor pool and it was interesting to hear how you have to "walk on eggshells and could be fired at any moment"

not exactly inviting.

for you LEOS on the board...any prior military? from my experience many cops are also some sort of military either reserve or prior service.


Father Knows Best
January 4, 2007, 10:33 AM
for you LEOS on the board...any prior military? from my experience many cops are also some sort of military either reserve or prior service.
I'm not an LEO, but as I've said many times, my brother is. He is former Army. He attended college on an Army ROTC scholarship and earned a B.S. degree in Criminal Justice. He then went to paratroop and flight school, where he learned to fly OH-58's. After that, he did five years active duty with the 82nd Airborne. He left the Army after Gulf War I when they were downsizing and had no money, so he had little to do and barely got enough flight time to maintain his rating. He then joined a county police department (not the Sheriff's department, the police department) in Georgia, and has been there for about 12 years now.

Father Knows Best
January 4, 2007, 10:59 AM
i worked for the Broward sheriff's office part time in the motor pool and it was interesting to hear how you have to "walk on eggshells and could be fired at any moment"

not exactly inviting.
That doesn't sound like a good place. Keep in mind that in the private sector, you are almost always an "employee at will" and can be fired at any time for any or no reason. Your employer doesn't have to give notice, or have a reason. If your boss decides he doesn't like the way you looked at him, he can fire you. That's the American way.

Police officers typically have far greater job security than private sector workers, for several reasons -- unions and/or civil servant protections. It's typically a lot harder to fire a police officer than your average private sector employee.

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