Q&A with a Police Officer – Law Enforcement

Job Title: Police Officer

Career Field: Law Enforcement

Industry: Municipal PD

Military Branch: USMC

Military Occupation: Infantry

How did your military background help your career so far?   Did it make anything more difficult?  

Having military background helps great in my field. For starters you already

have life experiences particularly ones dealing with high stress situations. The majority of everyday civilians do not know how to handle high stress situations like members of the military do. We become trained on it from day one.

Another big advantage is knowing how display presence, you know how to walk into a room and be seen in a commanding way. That is a quality instilled into you from basic that you are able to critique over time. Third is your voice which does relate back to knowing how to display your presence. So many people do not know how to speak with volume, you do.

As far as making things more difficult, it does happen. One thing you need to realize is you’re not the only veteran around and unless you were a member of SEAL team 6 don’t act like it. You know how to be disciplined so act like it. Do not constantly walk around with the veteran chip on your shoulder. Yes you have a lot of qualities that many others don’t, but there’s no need to flaunt it.

What advice or steps would you recommend for veterans preparing to enter your career field?  

This career field is very hard to get into and for good reason. First of all A LOT of people are trying to get in. Competition is thick and you are not the only veteran trying to get in. Take as many tests as possible even if they are for places you don’t have a desire to get hired at. Practice makes perfect, most tests are not that difficult but again you could be testing for a department hiring 2 people and 70 showed up to test. You can interview better than anyone, especially in this field. Know what to say ahead of time and if you don’t, again, the more interviews you do equals more practice. When you’re interviewing though remember you are probably not the only veteran getting an interview.

That being said, when the common question of “tell us about a time you overcame an obstacle by yourself and with a team” don’t use stories that the other guy probably has too I.E. boot camp, infantry training, PFT scores and so on. You need to tell something different. For example, I used one of two stories, one involved training the Brazilian military.  I explained that even with a language barrier myself and others made it work and we both learned from each other. The second was in mountain warfare training in Bridgeport CA, I was part of a Weapon company, which meant we rarely did a lot of foot patrols. I would explain how I took my platoon and for a whole day rehearsed foot patrol without being able to talk. Lastly, as I mentioned before, you know how to present yourself better.  We have all had a uniform inspection before so you know how to stand tall and look the part. Side note, don’t show up to a test or interview in uniform, don’t flaunt it but do use it to your advantage.

What do you enjoy the most about your career field?

It is by far the most rewarding job you could ask for. Doesn’t matter what you’re doing, every day is rewarding in some capacity. It has similarities to the military but the command structure is not as thick/ oriented. Everyone you work with is family, it’s like the platoon you were a part of except no big brass walking around. I feel most veterans enjoy working on their own a lot but not without the occasional partner, police work is exactly that. I’m not sitting at a desk where my boss is six feet away, I’m out on my own with my partner down the street.

What do you like least about your career field?

How it is viewed by many, but if the opinions of others mattered that much to me I probably wouldn’t have joined the military either. Don’t do this to please everyone because you never can and you know that already from being in the military.  You know you’re in the right and there’s no need to remind everyone, so use the discipline you already have and move on.

What skills, abilities, and personal attributes are essential to success in this career field?

Be observant, vigilant, organized, focused, and determined.

Is there something you wish you’d known or a skill you wish you’d had starting out in this career field?  

Better interpersonal skills, not saying mine were bad but with this job you meet new people every day so you need to know how to connect immediately. You can’t always be loud and stern like in the military. The average person will not respond how you want them to if you take that approach.

How do most people get into this career field?  What are common entry-level jobs?  

Unfortunately, there’s not right answer to this question. Sure, you could work in security or corrections or as a public safety officer while testing. Though honestly you already have job on your resume that helps, so my best advice is find a job that not demanding while you’re testing. Testing is hard and takes forever so you will need a job that can be flexible with that.

How did you find and apply for this job role ?  

Blueline.com and word of mouth.

What made you stand out as a candidate for this job role?

Having a military background and college degree. Most departments are looking for either of those two these days so having both helps.

What kind of education, training or experiences does your job role require?

There is nothing wrong with getting a degree in criminal justice if you want to enter this field, but no departments require your degree be in that to count. Everything you would need to know for that would be taught in the academy and learned over time. My advice is to expand your horizons.  For example, Sociology and psychology are two great degrees to get for this field.

What are the major components of your job role on a daily basis?

Slightly hard to describe because each day can be different. The one true statement I can make is you need to be thorough every day in everything that you do.

What do you like about your industry?

As I’ve said before it is truly the most rewarding job out there.

How do you see your industry changing in the next 10 years?

Technology is changing and it will and already has changed police work. Laws will always change and societies views will to, it will be your job to work with the changes, adapt, and hold the line. All things you already know how to do.

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