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

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Sean Dempsey, Dec 16, 2006.

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  1. Sean Dempsey

    Sean Dempsey Member

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    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.
     
  2. edman79

    edman79 Member

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    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.

    http://forums.officer.com/forums/

    Eddie Ed
     
  3. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    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.
     
  4. DWARREN123

    DWARREN123 Member

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    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.
     
  5. 12-34hom

    12-34hom Member

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    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.

    12-34hom.
     
  6. LeonCarr

    LeonCarr Member

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    +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,
    LeonCarr
     
  7. feedthehogs

    feedthehogs Member

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    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.
     
  8. Steve in PA

    Steve in PA Member

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    Yeah, we all know that no one in law enforcement or the emergency services contribute to the tax base.

    :banghead:
     
  9. Glockman17366

    Glockman17366 Member

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    talked to my cities police department ...


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

    Father Knows Best Member

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    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.
     
  11. Imaginos

    Imaginos Member

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    Been Through the Wringer

    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.
     
  12. ZeSpectre

    ZeSpectre Member

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    Former LEO here (bailed and went to computer tech work after 5 years). I'm going to be brutally frank here.

    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.

    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.
     
  13. Glockamolie

    Glockamolie Member

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    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. :)
     
  14. repo

    repo Member

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    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:

    http://www.kansashighwaypatrol.org/co_trooper.htm

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

    Sean Dempsey Member

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    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.
     
  16. ZeSpectre

    ZeSpectre Member

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    Sean,
    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
    "And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
    -Friedrich Nietzsche
     
  17. nhhillbilly

    nhhillbilly Member

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    17 years on the job.

    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
     
  18. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    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.
     
  19. gunsmith

    gunsmith member

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    My late father

    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)
    I am sure others will inform you soon enough about that.
     
  20. rono

    rono Member

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    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

    Ron
     
  21. real_name

    real_name member

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    Removed.
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2006
  22. Sean Dempsey

    Sean Dempsey Member

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    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.
     
  23. gunsmith

    gunsmith member

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    you have a lot of work in front of you

     
  24. win71

    win71 Member

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    Real Name

    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.
     
  25. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    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.
     
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