Learn About Police Officer Training from a Police Officer
Read about one cop's background and work experience in this interview.
7 years as corrections officer, over 5 years as police officer
What kind of police officer training did you have?
As a kid I always dreamed of becoming a police officer. I thought it was the most honorable profession there was; I was star struck.
I wanted to work with kids, be in an urban setting and I like to solve problems. As a police officer, you're not normally called when someone's having a good day, but I was still drawn to the work.
In college I studied communications, then switched to criminal justice. That was the first time I took classes when I could really focus through the entire class. Once I found out what I was interested in, I could excel.
What was your first job after college?
After college I had an internship. It was wonderful; I had exposure to just about every service in the city, from juvenile justice to adult courts. Then I had to sit down and design a city ordinance. They said here's a park, research it, what are the major problems, come up with a creative solution.
This was pretty daunting to a young guy. It was a beautiful beach attraction on the lake front, that had become a lower income area. The core issue was alcohol. We drafted an ordinance banning glass containers. We had the resources to bring in a lot of people, made a lot of arrests, and changed the situation.
What has been your best experience as an officer?
For a year I had a specialty assignment as a neighborhood officer. I worked one-on-one with the neighborhood watch, block programs, Boys and Girls Clubs. It was great to go down to the park and play basketball with kids, build friendships with them, and get paid for it. The program was cut, it only lasted for a year, but I'm still scheming for a way to get back and do crime prevention with kids in the neighborhoods.
What are the greatest challenges you face?
The most challenging thing is keeping up with changing technology; we're constantly trained and retrained on everything. We get new computers, radios, squad cars. We have new laptops in the squad cars that were developed by the military. We have computer aided dispatch. We use laser pads for fingerprinting, like a scanner. We have to be informed.
Its not all car chases and lights and sirens; I spend a lot of time writing reports. Every call that I respond to, I document. The records are all open to the public. I take good field notes, wait until the end of my shift, go in and write it on the computer.
What is a really good day as a police officer?
When I have the time I do nontraditional policing, getting out of the car and walking the street. I walk the yards, see what's going on. People don't see the car, they just see me, and when they're dealing drugs and I come around the corner, they take off running. I don't know who they are, but they think I do, because I can look them in the eye. They go inside, and it shuts down their business, if even for the day.
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