So you want to be a cop...

Imperial_WTI

Newbie
Network Support I
#1
First off, I leave this conversation to the Mods' discretion whether or not it belongs in the Mindset group let alone this forum. Please move as you see fit.

I'm posting this discussion to the P&S forum to get those honest smack-in-the-mouth truths and challenges that I've come to respect P&S for and I know something like this posted on the Facebook page could go sideways with a quickness. I'm seeking deeper information than what can be found on recruiting videos or short google articles. I have always been a proponent of finding the mentor(s) or source of truth that will challenge you to do some serious soul searching. Please share as you can, but I'm not asking for any breaches of confidentiality or organization bashing.

Reaching out to former, current, active, and non-active LEO's in this forum, what advice or guidance would you give someone considering beginning a career in law enforcement in this current environment? If it helps those who can offer, I currently live in the greater Houston area.

--What are those "I wish I would have known this when I started" moments? For good and bad.

--What are the "This is what they don't tell you" moments?

--What were those moments that made you realize the honeymoon period was over?

--What toll did it take on your marriage, kids, family, and friends?

--What are the barriers to entry for a Non-Mil?

--How likely is a Non-Mil to be able to join other groups within the department or skilled organization with so many experienced veterans coming available and seeking careers in Law Enforcement?

--What do you recommend someone participate in at the local level to get an introduction to law enforcement or police work?

I believe wholeheartedly that to be a proficient and effective LEO requires a calling and conviction. From the outside looking in, America's attitude towards authority and respect for authority are eroding quickly. Law Enforcement is a thankless job, and it doesn't seem to be getting any easier. Blessed are the peacemakers...

Quick profile on myself: A career in law enforcement was always something I had shown interest in as early as high school, but I had researched specialty divisions and government organizations such SWAT, FBI, ATF, or DEA in order to find situations that could push me to a higher level than the average Joe. Instead, I got involved with various athletics and went off to college earning a bachelors. Out of college I got involved in the oilfield and have been there since. I am in my mid to late twenties with a clean record and nothing worse than a speeding ticket. Due to current oil market fluctuations and activity levels, I have become painfully aware of my career path's mortality to forces I cannot control regardless of years of service or skill set. As a result, I have begun researching alternative career paths still available and found that I believe I still have that calling and interest. I have listened to a few modcasts and sitreps addressing the mentality required to be successful in this field, but wanted to dive a little deeper. Feel free to direct message me.

Thank you in advance and thank you to all the veterans and first responders for your service.
 
#2
I went to college and began applying with agencies right out of school. I was 23 and was told I don't have enough life experience by various agencies. I was very frustrated because I felt I could do the job. It took a couple years to get hired (this was also during the recession in 2008) but eventually I got picked up.

Looking back I believe it was actually good for me. I got married, got a job that gave me work experience and caused me enter the work force like everyone else for a couple years. I gained this "life experience." I am now an FTO and get assigned 23 year old "millennials" who have more expensive hair cuts than I have clothes in my closet. These kids often still live at home with their parents, are single and have never faced any diversity in their lives. And now all the sudden they are solving big boy problems and they are expected to relate to the citizens they serve. Just think of the heated DV calls we go to each night when the involved parties look at a new cop half their age who doesn't have a clue what real life is all about...

Anyway, that's my 2 cents. LE should almost be thought of as a second career. While there are numerous stories of guys getting hired at 21 and being successful, these cases are rare compared to the young kids whom wash out. I suggest everyone get some experience working some sort of job before applying in their mid to late 20s.
 

Imperial_WTI

Newbie
Network Support I
#3
I went to college and began applying with agencies right out of school. I was 23 and was told I don't have enough life experience by various agencies. I was very frustrated because I felt I could do the job. It took a couple years to get hired (this was also during the recession in 2008) but eventually I got picked up.

Looking back I believe it was actually good for me. I got married, got a job that gave me work experience and caused me enter the work force like everyone else for a couple years. I gained this "life experience." I am now an FTO and get assigned 23 year old "millennials" who have more expensive hair cuts than I have clothes in my closet. These kids often still live at home with their parents, are single and have never faced any diversity in their lives. And now all the sudden they are solving big boy problems and they are expected to relate to the citizens they serve. Just think of the heated DV calls we go to each night when the involved parties look at a new cop half their age who doesn't have a clue what real life is all about...

Anyway, that's my 2 cents. LE should almost be thought of as a second career. While there are numerous stories of guys getting hired at 21 and being successful, these cases are rare compared to the young kids whom wash out. I suggest everyone get some experience working some sort of job before applying in their mid to late 20s.

I can absolutely see where seasoning can come into play. Just looking at my work and leadership styles from when I entered my career to now. Lots of time to cool a hot head, plan my actions, and set examples.
 
#4
--What are those "I wish I would have known this when I started" moments? For good and bad.
When they tell you it's paper work, paper work, paper work, they mean it.

--What are the "This is what they don't tell you" moments?
A shift in Law Enforcement is hours of boredom surrounding 2 minutes of shear terror.

--What were those moments that made you realize the honeymoon period was over?
16 years in and still going strong. Everyday is different so it doesn't really get old. Switching from patrol to investigations, or a specialized unit helps stop burn out.

--What toll did it take on your marriage, kids, family, and friends?
Miss a lot of birthdays, holidays, choir, sporting events, but family is good. Lost pretty much all my friends, and now 99% of my friends are Law Enforcement now.

--What are the barriers to entry for a Non-Mil?
None that I'm aware of. Being a .Mil isn't always a benefit in LE. A few of our .Mil guys can't get over the freedom and discretion that comes with a LE career. These guys are so used to having someone tell them what to do it takes a while for them to adapt.

--How likely is a Non-Mil to be able to join other groups within the department or skilled organization with so many experienced veterans coming available and seeking careers in Law Enforcement?
Not .mil guys in general, but the high speed guys will be sought out for SWAT.

--What do you recommend someone participate in at the local level to get an introduction to law enforcement or police work?
Most agencies in my area have a citizens academy, I'm sure Houston is no different. The citizens academy is an intro to what we do, and they usually meet one day a week for a couple months. Start doing ride alongs if you can. It's a front row seat to the greatest show on earth.
 
#5
--What are those "I wish I would have known this when I started" moments? For good and bad.
The paperwork is no joke, take report writing classes seriously. Dealing with judges/DA's/other attorney's will make you want to pull your hair out.
--What are the "This is what they don't tell you" moments?
Be prepared to deal with society's worst, everyday.
--What were those moments that made you realize the honeymoon period was over?
I'm still new enough that burnout hasn't been an issue.
--What toll did it take on your marriage, kids, family, and friends?
Having an understanding and supportive wife and home life is important. Be prepared to miss holidays and events.
--What are the barriers to entry for a Non-Mil?
I'm not aware of any.
--How likely is a Non-Mil to be able to join other groups within the department or skilled organization with so many experienced veterans coming available and seeking careers in Law Enforcement?
That's all qualification/experience dependent.
--What do you recommend someone participate in at the local level to get an introduction to law enforcement or police work?
Go on ride-a-longs, get into a citizens police academy, talk to your local cops.
 
#6
I'll do my best to answer all your questions. FYI, I'm a third generation LE officer and a city cop that works for a medium sized dept. in a rural state. I have 15+ yrs LE experience.

I've had the opportunity to train and work with many different agencies and departments from California to North Carolina. I have family members and close friends that work all over the place as cops, from Alaska to Mass. to Wisconsin, to Montana to Virginia...all over. So, while I'm in a somewhat removed location, I think I do have a pretty good pulse on LE as a whole, generally speaking, and maybe I can give you some decent insight. A lot of this will just be my opinion and one perspective of course.

I'm taking the time to reply because I appreciate your interest in this profession and I totally agree with you that it's a calling (for those doing it for the right reasons). If you feel the call then answer it.

Some may dislike the man's work, but I really like the parallel drawn by LtCol D. Grossman in his book "On Combat." He says that (paraphrasing) the knights of old pledged allegiance to a particuar flag, swore an oath, dedicated their lives to certain principles, and every day put on their armor, put a weapon on their side and rode in search of wrongs to right, etc. The parallels are obvious, if maybe a bit grandiose. Suffice it to say that LE is still an honorable profession comprised of mostly honorable men. As radio commentator Paul Harvey pointed out many years ago, there are more instances of misconduct among preachers, doctors and bankers than there are among policemen-which is why its so sensational when one screws up. I digress. Having said all of that, if my kids told me they wanted to be cops, or join the military for that matter, I'd probably tell them to do something else. But, I was told the same thing and here I am.

The answer to most of your questions is the one most frequently provided by LE instructors to students. The answer is that it depends. Get used to hearing that answer if you do pin a badge on. It's not a shortcut or a falsehood, but there are usually so many variables involved that it's impossible to provide a difinitive answer. My experiences haven't been and won't be the same as another dude in another uniform in another part of the country. But, there's probably moments in both of our days when we really hate our jobs, and moments when we really like our jobs.

As far as the "I wish I'd have known this when I started moments," you asked about, I can't think of any at the moment. You figure it out. I think I like it that way.

"This is what they don't tell you" moments? I dunno... Unattended deaths? Death notifications? Good cases getting kicked over and over, arresting the same people for the same things over and over and over? Court on your days off? Court systems that are a joke? Political influence on a job that should have none? Abused kids. Nasty, disgusting, abhorrent living conditions. Massive amounts of bureaucratic bullshit, administrators who were never real cops. Sleep deprivation... I'll stop there. You get the idea.

"Moments that made you realize the honeymoon was over?" See above. Probably took me two years. I've always heard that most cops who quit, quit before their five year mark on average. They usually quit because the "honeymoon" you're talking about has ended.

Regarding marriage, family and friends...I came in single and got married afterwards. Had kids afterwards. I can't speak on how the job affects family life compared with another career. It's often cited that police work has the highest rate of divorce of all professions. I can't find a study/source on that but I'd say its fairly accurate. Just make sure your significant other is on board. Beware of the three W's of law enforcement: whiskey, women and weapons. When a cop's career goes down in flames, or his marriage goes down in flames, it usually is due to a combo of the three W's.

Friends? If they weren't really close before you swore in then they'll probably fall by the wayside and you'll start hanging out almost exclusively with cops. There's exceptions, not the case for everybody. Just the way it usually works out.

Barriers to non mil? In my experience, not many. There are some real dumbass, lazy veterans out there and a lot of them find their way into police work, just like there are some real idiots with diplomas on their walls. If you're tactically and technically proficient, dedicated, etc, you'll eventually get where you wanna go. As an example, I wanted a K9 slot starting day 1, but it took me seven years and a lot of work to get there. If you want a particular gig, you push toward it. Obviously, at bigger Dept's, there are some pretty high speed units that certain mil backgrounds would help you out with, but don't forget that there's a lot more truck drivers and mechanics and computer guys than there are real fighters and door kickers in the military. Vet status doesn't automatically mean competency or Rambo skills.

Your assertion that LE is a thankless job isn't entirely accurate. It is true that, over the course of the past 8 years, hate, discontent and animosity toward LE has reared its head in a major way, but, there's been a huge counter of support as well. Over the last few months I've repeatedly had random people buy my lunch, coffee, give me gift cards, put cash in my hand, etc. And I get a whole lot of "thank you for your service," to which I always reply "my privilege." Yeah, lots of people hate us, but I think lots of people love us too.

If you're interested in learning about agencies in your area, wield the power of google and search away online. Look into citizen police academies and check with departments about ride along programs. If you haven't ever done a ride along, look into it. You may do one and say "screw this" after all.

I think I answered all the questions. I'll quit now. Dunno if that gave you any help at all, but good luck to you-and anyone else looking to get in.
 
#7
--What are those "I wish I would have known this when I started" moments? For good and bad.
Good - how much actual freedom I'd have to do the job the way I saw fit. Bad - everyone tries to warn you about how scheduling/shift work will negatively effect your health and family life, but you don't know until you're there. I'm married with no kids, and I still have to be VERY careful about how I spend my time on my on-days and off-days to make sure I'm doing my part at home and in our relationship.

--What are the "This is what they don't tell you" moments?
I'm sure this differs from department to department, but I work in a department of 750+ in a city of about 500k, and the reality is that a lot of your training, and the dept.'s policy, is more geared towards protecting them than protecting you.

--What were those moments that made you realize the honeymoon period was over?
Started academy in 05/2015, finished FTO in 02/2016. Still very much in the honeymoon phase. Shit happens on the job and with the dept., so I won't begrudge anyone their viewpoint on the profession or place that they work, but I'm loving the work now, and am going to strive to keep it that way.

--What toll did it take on your marriage, kids, family, and friends?
My wife spends her weekend nights alone. I start work at 2100 hours, and get home at 0700. We don't sleep in the same bed except on my days off, when I come to bed around 0300. I don't see my non-PD friends as much anymore, but am trying to change that currently.

--What are the barriers to entry for a Non-Mil?
Simply that you lack a resume point that they will key up on. Lots of guys, officers and supervisors, at my dept. are former mil or current NG, and there is a culture here of wanting to hire veterans. From a practical standpoint, I went through the academy with several former mil guys, and none of them had a significant advantage over the non-mil folks in anything other than having had a "basic training" experience in their past. In our class, they tended to in the middle and lower portions of the rankings on the range. None were former SOF - infantry/paratroopers, mechanics, etc. They understood the mind-games aspect of the academy immediately.

--How likely is a Non-Mil to be able to join other groups within the department or skilled organization with so many experienced veterans coming available and seeking careers in Law Enforcement?
No impediment here that differs from getting hired - if someone in a specialty unit that is making decisions on hiring is a mil guy/girl, then mil guys/girls may see some preference. If you're going for a spot on the SWAT team against a guy who is a former FAST marine/SF/Seal/MARSOC, etc., you're screwed unless the guy is a total douchebag. Personality fit within the team/group seems to play a HUGE role.

--What do you recommend someone participate in at the local level to get an introduction to law enforcement or police work?
I would HIGHLY recommend that you pursue the beginning of your LE career at the local level. I'm a newer guy myself (though I started when I was 29, and had a couple of other careers before this), and seeing/hearing/talking to the fed guys we work with had been an eye opener. They make way better money, and the retirement is better, but they just simply don't see the kind of action that a patrol officer sees. I know several that have left from my agency, and several that are former PD guys who are in homeland and fbi, and they all sit around and talk about how much they miss patrol, foot-chases, driving fast, etc. Not saying fed guys don't do that stuff, but its at a MUCH lower frequency for most fed agencies/units (there are, of course, exceptions). Also, it is much easier to go fed if you've got PD experience (just like if you have mil experience). Its at the local level that you get to practice all the things you've trained to do (CQB/room clearing, driving, etc.) with the most frequency.

The fed agencies that we see the most, and who seem to do the most "street work", are DEA and ATF. One of our narcotics guys went ATF, and came back after a year. It's fairly common to have officers leave our dept. and go Secret Service, only to return a year later. No one seems to come back from BP, FBI, or DEA.
 
#8
To answer your last question a little more accurately, getting involved at the local level is probably the best way to get ahead in the hiring process. Ride-alongs, citizens academies, etc. I did a reserve academy at my dept. before getting hired full time, and the trend seemed to be that almost anyone who was already a reserve and was qualified would get hired full time if they applied.
 

Ben H

Member
Network Support I
#10
--What are those "I wish I would have known this when I started" moments? For good and bad.
Larger departments give you A LOT more opportunities. I work for a smaller suburban department (52 sworn from top to bottom) and specialty positions can be stingy. We still have them, but there's a lot less spots, which means the openings for them are a lot less frequent.

Examples ... the only task force we participate in is the DEA, and our PD only provides them with one person. It only comes open every 8-10 years which means I'll only get 2 or MAYBE 3 chances to get it in my entire career, and each time I will be competing against 5 or 6 equally qualified candidates. No street level drugs unit. No street crimes unit. We have 6 detectives, and they all take general felony cases. One guy specializes in financial crimes, one guy specializes in sex crimes, but they also take any other felony case.

On the flip side, we get better compensated, have better benefits, have better equipment, and get more training than the major PD and SO nearby.

--What are the "This is what they don't tell you" moments?

- You need to take care of yourself when working 3rd shift. Sleep has to be a priority. There are weeks where court, overtime, in-service training, etc will all happen at once and I can average 4 hrs of sleep/day for 6 days. Some of those days broken into two 2 hr naps. Do that long enough and your body will show the effects. Third shift is a blast to work. You get a lot more good calls, (bar fights, serious crashes, shootings, home invasions, etc.) and a lot less of the BS calls. Not to mention the brass is not around. HOWEVER if you cant find a way to manage 8 hrs of sleep, you'll have no energy, be irritable at home, your memory will diminish, age prematurely... the list goes on and on. Sleep, Nutrition, and Exercise are important pillars to your body's needs.

Criminal Justice degrees may not be the most effective use of college tuition. You will learn some good things in those programs, however, for most places around here, a bachelors is a bachelors. You don't get bonus points for it being in criminal justice. If something happens and you cannot be a cop anymore, a criminal justice degree doesn't give you a whole lot of options for good paying jobs. A degree in business, science, or math, will. I'm not saying don't get a criminal justice degree, but you learn most of what you need to know in the academy and its something worth thinking about.

--What were those moments that made you realize the honeymoon period was over?

Varies, but if this is your calling, the, "I hate my job," moments are infrequent. There's always highs and lows. I second the answer previously given that if you start to get burned out, a change in shift / assignment is a good fix.

--What toll did it take on your marriage, kids, family, and friends?

See answer above about sleep. If you don't get sleep, you'll be a bear at home. Just make sure you make time for the wife. Including her from time to time when going out after the shift with people from work is a good idea. Makes her feel like she is a part of your new, "family." If/when you have kids, you have to work harder to find time for sleep when working third shift.

The job will change your personality; keep that in mind for how you interact with your family. You frequently see a lot of bad things and situations that most people would never come across. A lot of your interaction with the bottom 5% of society. My wife is a counselor and the way she puts it is that psychologically my mind creates defense mechanisms to enable me to deal with these situations. This translates into sarcasm, cynicism, and joking around about devastating circumstances things that "normal" people would find appalling. Just remember that your family members are still "normal" so they don't care for the sarcasm about mangled bodies that fellow officers do.

--What are the barriers to entry for a Non-Mil?
Previous posts hit the nail on the head. Some places offer a couple points on civil service for military, but for the most part, that is the only bonus to initial entry.

--How likely is a Non-Mil to be able to join other groups within the department or skilled organization with so many experienced veterans coming available and seeking careers in Law Enforcement?
Same as previous posts. If you're in a premier unit, you have experience for SWAT. If your job was maintaining weapon / firearms instructor, you have a leg up for the range staff positions. If you work hard and have a strong desire for any specialty position, you can probably obtain it. Phrase that always hits home for me is one coaches would yell at us in sports - "How bad do you want it?!!!" If you really want it, you'll do what it takes.
 
#11
Everyone else has hit the nail on the head.
Make sure your relationship is 100% solid. You will change and if it's not, it will crack. My marriage made it through Afghanistan, it lasted 3 years of cop life.
Take acting classes. For real. You'll learn the criminal justice stuff anyways but what you should be real good at is talking to people at their level, which 99% of the time won't be your level. You need to be able to mask up and be the right cop on demand.
 
#12
--What are those "I wish I would have known this when I started" moments? For good and bad. I wish I would have came on the job later...at 21, fresh out of college and some .mil experience, I still wasn't ready. I'm 3rd generation cop..and I thought it was still like that..well it wasn't. I expected the 90's in Brooklyn, run and gun..it wasn't like that at all.

--What are the "This is what they don't tell you" moments? You're a glorified social worker. You may do cop shit 2% of the time. Your bosses are scumbags. You will have a light dusting of good ones, but by in large, they were shitty cops in the street, always trying to weasel out of not doing work, and will judge you, as if they are subject matter experts. Think about a second career immediately. Everything you do, should set you up for the future. Whether that's going on a task force, working as a financial crimes detective, or similar. This job is a JOB. It's not the end-all, be-all. Do things outside of this job. Whether it's golf, whatever. Pay for your own training...the job training sucks for the most part and will not prepare you for the myriad of things you will come into contact with. Take a shooting course from a reputable person or school. Go learn Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

--What were those moments that made you realize the honeymoon period was over? I knew it was over later on in my career (year 7-8) when I got jammed up for doing the right thing. That will happen.

--What toll did it take on your marriage, kids, family, and friends? You'll lose friends that aren't cops. You will have issues with family. Don't bring up cop stuff at thanksgiving or BBQs. They'll never agree with you.

--What are the barriers to entry for a Non-Mil? None. The job is full of rock stars or retards. Hopefully you're not the latter.

--How likely is a Non-Mil to be able to join other groups within the department or skilled organization with so many experienced veterans coming available and seeking careers in Law Enforcement? Very likely. Not every veteran is built the same. I've had legit trigger pullers be shit cops and failed them out of FTO. I've had completely green kids be stellar officers.

--What do you recommend someone participate in at the local level to get an introduction to law enforcement or police

I think doing SEVERAL ride alongs. Go with some old timer that's disgruntled, go with a mid-career guy and go with some happy ass rookie. Feel all 3 out and make a decision. The job is vastly different today and experiences may vary.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
#14
--What are those "I wish I would have known this when I started" moments? For good and bad.

1. How much time you'll waste in court.
2. how many people take the sgt, lt, cpt... test because it's the next step or they didn't like the job so they get promoted.
3. Inter-department politics.
4. Officer discretion policy'ed into the ground.
5. Citizens don't like you because you're a cop, and the rest of the dept treats you like shit because you're just patrol
6. Being understaffed, but non-essential units aren't.
7. Useless precinct detectives
8. Specialty detectives (dv, youth services, sex crimes...) who make #7 look like all-stars
9. The dispatch center has its own policies that won't line up with your dept policies
10. You'll make a call on scene, prepare to have the news, ia, chief's office... question it
11. The dependence on computers.


--What are the barriers to entry for a Non-Mil?

None, most departments don't want the fighters/trigger pullers any more.

--How likely is a Non-Mil to be able to join other groups within the department or skilled organization with so many experienced veterans coming available and seeking careers in Law Enforcement?

.mil has nothing to do with it, it all depends on who you know and how well you play your depts system and dept politics. Aka getting out of patrol as fast as you can.
 
#15
Not current LE, working on the path now. Dad did background investigations for applicants for 20+ years for a state LE agency, and would recommend for the applicant to be hired or passed on once complete. His #1 recommendation is education, especially if you have a master's. A lot of agencies have education reimbursement programs (atleast at the state level in NC) that'll reimburse anywhere from 90-100% of your education costs while you're employed for that agency. Like others have said, there's plenty of community / potential applicant outreach programs that many agencies (especially the larger ones) have. That's about all that I can attest to though, so I can't answer any of those other questions.
 
#16
I'm in my first year of LE. I came in later in life at 31. Always wanted to be a cop, did almost everything else along the way (Army, Intel work for ICE, IT, Fireman, college kid, hazmat tech) I'm older than both of my FTOs and my Sgt. Not that it matters but hearing them complain about non LE things makes me chuckle.


--What are those "I wish I would have known this when I started" moments? For good and bad.
Report writing, its easily one of the most critical things you'll do. The amount of bums in this profession is staggering. I've on several occasions run my co workers on the way to hot calls where another cop needed help right fucking now and they either don't care, or are just straight shit bags. You start building a reputation before you get hired, make sure its a good one.
--What are the "This is what they don't tell you" moments?
I had the good fortune of having many LE friends I was pretty much ready for all of it good/bad/indifferent
--What were those moments that made you realize the honeymoon period was over?
I dunno still in my 1st year but have a back up plan. My dept currently has a high turnover, a lot of folks rolling out for a variety of things. Both of my FTOs are in the process of leaving or trying to leave. I hear rumblings of many others trying to punch out as well.
--What toll did it take on your marriage, kids, family, and friends?
I don't have kids. My wife is cool about it, but we've always traveled a lot without one another. I'm working evenings so I don't usually get home until 0400-0500 she gets up around 0900. I can't seem to train her to keep the noise down in the mornings. She also gets annoyed I can't just go on random adventures (I work every other weekend) as much as she likes.
--What are the barriers to entry for a Non-Mil?
Based on my academy class, I think the barriers are there for people with .mil time. Departments want college educated weaklings instead of alpha males. My class reflected this. My academy was a regional academy and a joke physically, academically. We still managed to fail probably ~7 out of 35. 2 girls failed firearms, 1 girl failed DUI, 1 girl was fired for getting "hurt" and an ensuing integrity violations, 1 dude for hitting his wife, 2 men for academics. A lot more should have failed or never should have been there in the first place. IMHO
--How likely is a Non-Mil to be able to join other groups within the department or skilled organization with so many experienced veterans coming available and seeking careers in Law Enforcement?
Not in any specialty units yet, my dept is heavily prior mil. We do seem to have a decent number of guys on SWAT that weren't though. Our SWAT time is currently struggling with employing NODs. They don't have may guys with recent relevant .mil experience to effectively employ them.
--What do you recommend someone participate in at the local level to get an introduction to law enforcement or police work?
Do ride a longs. Try to ride with rank and file dudes, try to get them to talk frankly about their departments.
 

ptrlcop

Established
#17
--What are those "I wish I would have known this when I started" moments? For good and bad.
You start your career with a bag of fucks. Make sure when you retire there are still some fucks left in that bag. To accomplish this you can't give a fuck to every person you meet. Be very selective about giving a fuck only to people that deserve it and that your fuck can actually help. Also don't give your fucks away to people or situations you have no power to fix because that's just wasting fucks that you WILL need down the road.

In all seriousness, giving away your fucks to easily results in a condition called "compassion fatigue" and it can have some pretty negative consequences.
 
#18
First I'll give my background to give some reference to my answers. 31/m, worked patrol for 3 different departments starting in 2010. My first dept was near you in DFW and was an absolute blast (2K sworn), second dept was tiny (100 sworn) and was the low point of my career and current dept is the largest in the state in an urban area (900 sworn).

--What are those "I wish I would have known this when I started" moments? For good and bad.
- How much influence politics have on the job. This has multiple affects on policies, booking, how long officers are off the street for OIS etc.
- How little police can really do for people, mostly reactionary and responding to things after the fact
- How repetitive the calls are, there are basically a few types of calls and a lot of them end up being similar
- How I can't see myself doing anything else


--What are the "This is what they don't tell you" moments?
- At least where I work now, how much people dislike the police. We are a necessary evil. In your area it is a much different environment and people actually liked police. I miss it a lot.

--What were those moments that made you realize the honeymoon period was over?
- You'll get to a fuck everything/everything's bullshit point. Usually takes 2-3 years, but depends on the person/department/city. It started happening for me when I'd dump a lot of time into a case/call and the AP would get a slap on the wrist (or not charged) or I'd book and see the same person on the street later in the shift. It's cyclical though, I realize how it is now and it doesn't bother me nearly as much as it used to when I was new. ptrlcop's post above mine is excellent, way better way of describing what I'm doing a poor job of hitting on.

--What toll did it take on your marriage, kids, family, and friends?
- I kept a lot of my college friends and make a point to keep in contact/hang out with them. I only have a few close PD friends at my current department and strangely enough they were in my lateral class and came from other large departments. I don't have any kids so can't answer that. Wife isn't a fan of overnight shift, but when I worked evenings there weren't really any issues. We have an odd schedule where we can pick days off every 28 day cycle so I'm able to get off for most planned events. This helps a ton.

--What are the barriers to entry for a Non-Mil?
- As of now I wouldn't say many, a lot of departments are trying to "diversify" so if you match the demographic they're trying to recruit you're golden.

--How likely is a Non-Mil to be able to join other groups within the department or skilled organization with so many experienced veterans coming available and seeking careers in Law Enforcement?
- As far as SWAT and units it's open tryouts. The guys that train and work at it typically get on unless admin has it out for them. The other units like gang/narc are good old boy club so it's who you know/are buddies with. Those are a crap shoot.

--What do you recommend someone participate in at the local level to get an introduction to law enforcement or police work?
- Its already been mentioned, but ride alongs are great or if the dept you're interested in has community service officers/reserves that would be a solid in.
 
#19
Over a decade in LE, almost exclusively on nights. Current Patrol K9/SWAT. Have also done pro act. I've done some kick ass things and have great stories at parties but those are few and far between the endless domestic violence and collision investigations...


-What are those "I wish I would have known this when I started" moments? For good and bad.

Pat Rogers said, "You might love the job but the job doesn't love you." And it's absolutely true. All we are is warm bodies in a uniform. If you're killed on duty the chief will use your death to pander for more dollars but have your uniform filled before your body is cold. Believe that.

The job changes everything about you. If you shoot a black man you might lose your livelihood like Darren Wilson did. By all accounts all he did was defend his life against a violent felon and he lost his career, his home and he has to live in the shadows.

You're at a high risk of divorce, cancer, stroke, heart disease, suicide etc. Your rights to freedom of speech become extremely limited and one misguided Facebook post could be the end of your career. The bump in the night, was that the wind or a prior arrest about to kick down your front door because he found your address online.

If I were to do it all over again I'd be a firefighter ;) but honestly if I wanted to get into LE again, I'd go Federal. Better pay and better retirement.


--What toll did it take on your marriage, kids, family, and friends?

You will work birthdays, holidays, weekends, nights... Your spouse will go to sleep alone (in some cases she might not, doh.) Sometimes we see our spouses just long enough to pass the kids off. I know guys who can't tell their wives what happened at work because it scares them. That would really suck because then you're stuck internalizing everything. At work you're in a state of constant hyper vigilance so at home you're often fatigued, moody and just want to be left alone...all while the wife and kids think it's your day off and that you should help clean the house or come out and play. I'm ok with the sacrifice but some days I ask if it's fair to ask it of my family. If I'm killed on a call because the same woman who we saved from a domestic incident went back to her abuser and he ambushes me..was it worth it? Was it worth it in Dallas? Killed while protecting the rights of anti cop protestors. Was it worth my kids not having a father because I wanted to play cops and robbers? It's tough to understand in your 20's but once you have a little part of you looking back into your eyes asking you not to go to work it hits like a bag of bricks.

Have you been paying attention to politics? Who did the democrats pander across their stage at their national convention? Not cops, but mothers of would be cop killers that didn't win. All this violence? Nope, no problem with certain cultures not submitting to arrest but always trying to run or fight..it's the cops problems for being warriors and no guardians. Look at Washington. Special interest groups are trying to make it easier to prosecute cops, stating that it will help heal relationships between cops and "marginalized" communities. But nothing addresses why certain persons in those communities choose to react violently with police.

Friends? When I was hired we were told to maintain your friendships outside of LE. That's wasn't easy and most have moved on, we just can't relate anymore. I'm not comfortable in the mall, or around crowds and without my gun.


--How likely is a Non-Mil to be able to join other groups within the department or skilled organization with so many experienced veterans coming available and seeking careers in Law Enforcement?

Is the Seal going to get onto a tac team before you? Probably, but it really hasn't been an issue in my AO, but we do a shit job of hiring veterans.

--What do you recommend someone participate in at the local level to get an introduction to law enforcement or police work?

Ride alongs.

I wouldn't get into policing in 2017. I have only ever served blindly for people of all races, sexual orientation etc but all I hear is that cops are opressors. My agency now has body cams and we have to record the race of every person we make a proactive contact with, which in my mind is creating bias. I might seriously consider driving pass a suspicious person because we aren't the same race or if I happen to stop a traffic offender and he's a different race I will seek to stop 10x as many persons of my own race so as to not be sacrificed to the alter of public opinion.
 
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