by Ian D Scofield, Writer
Did you just get a job as a law enforcement officer or are you trying to get one?
Law enforcement is a very rewarding career, one that can enhance your life and benefit you greatly. Preparing for a job in law enforcement shares some similarities to other careers. At the same time it has unique challenges to overcome.
Let’s take a moment to examine how you can prepare for a job as a law enforcement officer.
So you passed the physical fitness test, that isn’t where fitness stops. Throughout the academy you will be physically challenged and the level of fitness that is required for the entry test is just a start. Maintaining a high level of fitness will help you to pass the academy and also prepare you to do better when you graduate.
During the academy and after the academy you are going to want to review what you learn. A lot of this information will help you throughout your career. Academy learning is great for the law and procedural education.
At the same time that you want to keep all of that going through your mind, you want to remember that the academy was only a portion of your learning. Your FTO and other officers in your department will teach you much more. Learning when you need to fall back to academy knowledge and when it is time to learn from others is part of being successful.
A career in policing of any kind typically isn’t easy, neither is the academy. Being ready to work is important. Work doesn’t just mean physical, being mentally prepared is just as important. You will be learning throughout your career but your time in the academy and your FTO program are going to be some of the most important.
The night (or day) before your first shift as an LEO you want to get as much sleep as you can. The day will be full of learning and physical work. While the academy does its best to prepare you for this, it can only go so far.
Depending on your department and your schedule, getting sleep during the work week can be difficult. You will learn to get as much of it as possible. Especially in departments where you might be on call.
On your first day, wake up early, shave, get your uniform ready, and carry out your regular tasks. Check the traffic after you wake up and make sure that you have plenty of time for your commute. Setting a good image for yourself on the first day will make you look good.
Wanting to fit in on the first day is perfectly normal but the best way to do that is to go with the flow on the first day. If someone makes a joke about you, laugh it off. Your FTO tells you to watch, do that. It may be difficult but you will find yourself fitting in and learning more. A good amount of learning comes from observing others.
So you’ve been hired as a police officer, that means that you already have passed a background check or are in the process of going through one. Make sure that you behave with a high level of professionalism and maintain a clear background while you are off-duty. Social media and other such things can cause negative effects on your position.
As you may have noticed some of these tips are generic and will help you in other jobs. Some of them are gauged towards those just going into the academy, while others are for officers starting their first day in the field. All of them are good ideas to keep in mind when you are starting off as a law enforcement officer.