Usually, when people decide to embrace a career in law enforcement, they have no idea what all is involved. I suggest that the first step you take in the process is to do some research on How Do You Become a Police Officer. Before you begin that research, sit down and list all of the questions that come to mind. Those questions may include:
Why become a cop?
What does it take to become a police officer?
How long does it take to be a police officer?
How old do I need to be to get into the police academy?
What criminal justice jobs are available?
Is there a reason I shouldn’t be a correctional officer?
Luckily, you are in just the right place to find that information. As you read through this material, these, and other questions should be answered.
First, you should consider the type of criminal justice career you would like to pursue. There are a vast variety of positions available in law enforcement. Do you want to be with a local police department, or be on the highway patrol? Maybe you would prefer the sheriff’s department. If you have great shooting skills, you may have interest in being on a SWAT team.
If your desire is to work for the national government in some capacity, the Department of Justice has a number of law enforcement agencies that may be of interest to you. There is the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the United States Marshals Service (USMS), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), and many others.
Congress created the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2002. The United States Secret Service (USSS) is now part of that agency. This federal agency protects the president and vice president of the United States, along with their families and other dignitaries. It also investigates counterfeiting crimes involving U.S. currency and the monetary system.
Another federal agency is the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which includes Enforcement Removal Operations (ERO) that handles interior immigration enforcement in the United States, and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). There is also the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which includes United States Border Patrol (USBP). And the list goes on.
If you have a sharp and inquisitive mind, you may find a rewarding career as a criminal investigator. There are also private investigators that are employed in the private sector. There are literally hundreds of different roles you could entertain as a cop. You should decide which one, or ones match your personality and your interests the most. Then research each one individually. Talk to as many police officers as possible in each of those areas. Do a ride along when possible.
Becoming A Cop
So, you are beginning the research process on becoming a cop. Awesome! As you continue your research, you will find out if a career in law enforcement is really for you. In the process of learning how to become a police officer, it will become clearer as to which road you should follow.
Second, check out all of the requirements. You need to be of a certain age, and have the required education and experience level to be eligible. In many states, the minimum age to get into the police academy is twenty-one. In some states, you may find that you will also need a college degree. Check with your local agencies to make sure of the exact requirements. Often times, the police agency will put you through the academy free of charge if you qualify.
Third, expect to go through a lot of medical, mental, and physical testing. There are many steps to becoming a police officer. The job requires a high level of integrity and character. Not everyone measures up to the strict code of ethics that is required. Anticipate some stress and an expectation to meet some very high standards in each of the areas mentioned.
Fourth, expect at least three to four months of intensive training at a police academy. That includes a lot of book study, as well as extensive physical training. If you want to get off to a head start, you may want to begin with getting a college degree in criminal justice. Some choose to go into the military and become a Military Policeman (MP). For those who want to get experience, but aren’t old enough to join a police force, this is a great option. With this experience, your chances of becoming a police officer increase greatly.
In a nut shell, that’s the basic idea. Now take a few minutes and browse through the dozens of articles I’ve provided here, and get more specific information on how to become a cop. Good luck with your career! Keep reading, as you will learn how to become a police officer. If you decide to become a cop, it will be quite an adventure, and I believe it will be worth your while. It can be quite a rewarding career.