Law enforcement agencies around the country are looking for some fresh blood now and are having trouble finding recruits. One of the reasons why recruiting new officers is becoming harder is because a lot of people have grown to form a negative opinion of the job. If you have a generally bad idea of the police force because of issues like police brutality, you should know that they are looking for people like you to turn things around. And, while police work is not the easiest, it can be extremely rewarding. Let’s take a look at some of the common myths about law enforcement and the truth behind them.
Yes, there is an element of danger that comes with police work, but it’s not as dangerous as many people think. As a matter of fact, police work is not even in the top 10 of the most dangerous occupations in the country. You will be involved in dangerous situations from time to time, but you’ll have police training on your side. Even if you do get into an altercation, you will have all the tools needed to neutralize threats. You should also know that the wide majority of people have immense respect for cops and most people won’t risk attacking one, so you’ll be generally safe.
Some people also imagine themselves being ‘on the beat’ for their whole career with little chance for advancement. But there are many different leadership positions that you could fill in law enforcement and different career paths that you could take. A lot of people start as regular officers and get an advanced law enforcement degree so they can move into leadership positions. You could get something like an online law enforcement degree from a school like Wilfrid Laurier University, for instance, and earn advanced credentials that will allow you to fill greater roles.
You could work as a detective or an inspector. You could also become a staff sergeant, sergeant major, or a chief constable, or you could work with government agencies or become a probation officer. There are so many things that you can do when you have a law enforcement background and many doors will open up to you, so don’t assume that you’ll be stuck in one position.
A lot of people also assume that law enforcement officers have to assert dominance all the time and use violence to intimidate the people they apprehend. In reality, the force needs police officers who are better at defusing situations rather than sparking them. They also need officers who can establish trust with at-risk populations. So, if you are always the person to keep a level head during arguments and know how to bring everyone together, law enforcement could be a great position for you.
If you expect police work to be like what you see on CSI, think again. You won’t be involved in high-speed chases every day and you’ll probably see very few of them, if any, during your career. There is also no universal DNA database and police precincts don’t have labs that allow them to find who a DNA sample belongs to in a few minutes.
Many people don’t know this, but not much of the work of a police officer directly involves solving crime. You’ll be dealing with things like noise complaints and will spend a lot of time filling out paperwork. Where you work will also make a world of difference.
Working as a police officer can get very exciting, don’t get us wrong, but you have to tone down your expectations a little bit. The best part of the job is when you get to actually help someone. There are also times when you’ll get to save a life, but this won’t happen every day. If you really want to know what it’s like to be a cop, speak with people who are currently in the force or are retiring. This will give you a good idea of what the average day of a cop is like.
This one is a little bit murky. A lot of people think that officers have to give a certain number of tickets per day or month, or they will get reprimanded. Other people think that cops that give out a lot of tickets are rewarded. The reality is that certain departments will have expectations as to how many tickets an officer should be giving out per day. These are based on statistics and not necessarily a way for them to collect more money from citizens. There will be no hard rules, however. This could lead to officers giving out tickets for no reason and scrutiny from the public. So, don’t expect to absolutely have to find offenders or make them up so you can keep your job.
Police officers have been associated with racism lately but thinking that all police officers are racist or that the police are an oppressive force is just plain wrong. That doesn’t mean that there are no issues with racism or bias in police, but it’s not as systematic as people think. Police departments across the country are constantly trying to improve training to sniff out cops that could be problematic and remove bias from policing as much as possible, and many of these efforts have borne fruit. You also shouldn’t assume that everyone you’ll come across will see you as a racist. Most people understand and appreciate the work of officers, and these are the people you should be focusing on.
Now that you know a bit more about what being a law enforcement officer is really like, you should consider looking more into it. You might find out that this is the perfect job for you and you might be surprised at how fulfilling this field can be.
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