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So You Want to be a Cop… | U.S. PATRIOT NEWS & REVIEWS

So You Want to be a Cop…

Law enforcement has become a highly competitive profession and many departments receive far more interested applicants than they could possibly hire. Most departments utilize a multiple phase hiring process designed to weed out unsuitable candidates at each step along the way. Unfortunately, although this process does a good job of weeding out the majority of undesirables, there are always a few excellent candidates who also suffer elimination because of avoidable mistakes along the way. Understanding the process and the purpose of each step can better prepare you to succeed.

  1. Application – every hiring process begins with the applicant completing a written application. Many potential candidates fail to recognize that the applicant is more than a simple formality, it is the first chance a department has to review your qualification, judge your ability to follow simple instructions and ensure you meet the basic qualifications. Ensure that you read all instructions thoroughly and completed all required sections of the application including supplying any requested transcripts, military records or proof of specific qualifications.
  2. Police Pull UpPhysical Fitness Test – any basic police training will involve some degree of physical fitness training and will require cadets to meet a minimum bench mark prior to graduation. To ensure that potential applicants have the basic physical ability to reach these bench marks prior to graduation, most jurisdictions have also established similar minimum requirements for entry into training and they assess this ability through a series of pre-employment job related agility tests. The key to success is learning what these minimum requirements are and practicing beforehand.
  3. Written Test – although many applicants do not realize it, report writing is a large part of day to day police work. For this reason, it is necessary that departments determine applicants possess basic levels of reading comprehension and the ability to communicate effectively; this is done through standardized written exams utilizing multiple choice, essays or a combination of both. A variety of practice tests are available to assist you in preparing for this important step.
  4. Oral Interview – the oral interview is often the first opportunity administrators and candidates have to interact face to face. It is also when many otherwise qualified applicants find themselves eliminated. Structured interviews generally consist of a half dozen or less standard questions designed to judge your ability to respond under pressure while also assessing your communication skills. Again, practice is the key, especially if public speaking is not one of your strong skills.
  5. Background Investigation – for many departments, the final hurdle for prospective applicants is the background investigation. Obviously, there are certain prior criminal behaviors that will result in automatic disqualification; however, many applicants also fail because they simply fail to disclose minor issues which could otherwise be overlooked. Departments understand that youthful mistakes happen but it is imperative that you not try to hide any mistakes that may have occurred. The key is full disclosure at every step.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Tom Burrell
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