By Carol Trehearn
Experienced law enforcement professionals know that showing up is only the first component of the job. In addition to the training received in the academy, there’s a wealth of knowledge that can only be picked up on the job. On the other hand, nearly every police precinct in the nation encourages and even requires law enforcement to go through periodic professional development training. This is when seasoned officers learn all about the latest body armor and body camera technology. Police officers also need to be kept abreast of changes in local laws and ordinances. Good law enforcement professionals accept the fact that the field is ever evolving, and they accept this challenge with open arms.
What It Takes to Become a Police Officer in Today’s World
The requisites for becoming a law enforcement officer are almost always fully spelled out, depending on the jurisdiction that you want to go into. You have to meet certain physical health standards, such as being able to run a certain number of miles and complete a particular number of push-ups within a set time. There are mental health and criminal histories screenings put in place to help ensure the safety of the general public. Then there are the educational requirements, which range from needing a high school diploma all the way up to a college degree. Those are the requisites for becoming a law enforcement professional that appear on paper, but high ranking officers and human resource professionals are always on the lookout for certain types of attitudes and personalities.
To become a police officer in today’s world, you need to have:
- Maintain a humble aura
- Firmly believe that there is always more to learn
Bridging the Gap Between Knowledge and Experience
Any veteran cop can tell you in detail how their perceptions changed about their world after they became a rookie. While the training received in the classroom is absolutely critical, getting experience in the field is what gives law enforcement their edge. Good police work is as much about instinct as it is interpreting the facts. In order to bridge that gap between experience and knowledge, many law enforcement professionals are keen to attend conferences, go to seminars, and enroll in classes designed to hone their skills. A seasoned member of law enforcement might want to expand their knowledge of national trends in the field, while a rookie cop might gain more experience by being in the presence of their superiors.
How New Technologies Keep Law Enforcement Informed
In addition to introducing more accurate radar guns, better wiretapping equipment, and more streamlined dispatch systems, technology is changing fast to assist police officers in the field. Just a few years ago, body cameras became standard in the United States. In Los Angeles, millions of dollars were spent to equip and train police officers on how to set up, access, and utilize body camera footage. In turn, this technology has cut down on the amount of time investigators take to resolve claims of excessive force and police brutality. By contrast, officers are better protected as they now have a piece of technology that they can use to back up their claims. During altercations such as high-speed chases, body camera footage has helped police jurisdictions like the Los Angeles Police Department to help improve public perception.
Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice
Officers of the law represent the first stage in the criminal justice system. Whether executing search warrants, apprehending wanted individuals, investigating crime scenes, or stumbling upon a violation of the law in progress, their actions, written records, and oral testimony propel cases forward. Although law enforcement officers don’t prosecute or decide cases, their perspective can be heavily persuasive. Part of good police work entails having the ability to convey the facts and maintain a high level of professionalism in courtroom settings. At Wilfrid Laurier, law enforcement professionals learn the fundamentals of the criminal justice system. This college offers courses that are designed to walk aspiring police officers through the entire process, from beginning to end.
How Higher Education and Good Police Work Go Hand in Hand
Most police officers look to rise in the ranks, going from walking the beat to becoming detectives, lieutenants, and even captains. With enough years of experience and a good record, a police officer can expect to see an increase in their pay grade as well as their level of responsibility. In fact, many in the law enforcement field eventually go on to open their own private investigation firms, work as bounty hunters, and open their own bodyguard businesses. In addition to knowing how the law works, being educated in business is an excellent tool to have in one’s arsenal. Earning a bachelor’s degree as a police officer also makes it easier to be promoted to higher positions.
Knowing What It Takes to Excel as a Law Enforcement Professional
Police officers work as public servants, sworn to enforce the laws and protect the public. They also long to build connections in their local community, serving as ambassadors for their local precincts. They are as likely to be found performing a good deed as they are to be arresting a perpetrator. Good police work takes balance, and that can mainly be attributed to experience as well as practical knowledge. Being able to evolve and adapt to these challenges is definitely what sets police officers apart from civilians.
There are constantly stories in the news about police officers striving to reach new levels. There are heartwarming tales of law enforcement professionals taking up collections to help buy homeless kids new shoes. There are also stories about the fallen officers who bravely sacrificed their lives, all in the name of doing what’s right. And that has been their story for hundreds of years in this country; giving tirelessly, helping to make the world safer and more promising for the next generation. What law enforcement professionals can do for themselves to see a better tomorrow is to invest in their educations. By learning everything there is to know about the legal system, technology, and investigative procedures, they set themselves up to be better prepared for the unknown.