Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Student Questionnaire.

     Man, it's been a while, huh?  No excuses, just haven't had much time, and nothing much to say.  But I have something now, and who knows, maybe I'll have some more for y'all soon.

   Ole' Shamus will keep tryin' to get on here, but like police work, things get away from ya pretty quick.

    Well, I was recently sent a questionnaire from a student who wanted to ask a few questions about my job.  Below are the questions and my answers....

Describe your job.

-I am a Police Corporal in a County Police Department.  I am assigned to Patrol.  My daily duties include answering a variety of calls for service, conducting periodic checks of businesses and neighborhoods, traffic enforcement and investigating crimes and complaints that come through the communications center.  I also handle follow up investigations from those calls and complaints that do not fit the criteria to be investigated by the detective units.  To use the old cliché, “to protect and serve” is actually what we do in patrol.  We are the first contact between the community and the department, and even the county government.  In my state, we are considered to be a large metropolitan department, and have approximately 600 sworn officers, including patrol and specialized assignments.

Do you like your job? Why or why not?

-“Like” is a hard thing for me to do as a Police Officer.  I do enjoy my job.  I enjoy the feeling that I make a difference in a small or large way in people’s lives.  So, instead of “liking” my job, I find it fulfilling.  The potential to make a difference and improve a situation we are responding to is great.  Whether it is locking up the “bad guy”, or helping an elderly motorist change a tire and get home, we have the potential to impact lives, hopefully in a positive way.

What do you like most?

-What I enjoy most is the good work and the people I encounter who are appreciative of what we try to do for them.  I also enjoy the camaraderie of the officers on my shift, and the people I work with.  I also like the excitement of the job, and that every day has the potential to be different. 

What do you like least?

-Politics.  The politics of the department and the county government are brutal.  I hate politics, and they are in everything.  Duty assignments, equipment, where you work, and with whom.  The politics aren’t always official.  They often come in the form of cliques.  The old saying, “It’s not what you know, but who you know” is prevalent in department politics.  There is a slang term in Police work, where you “follow a Rabbi”.  It refers to becoming close with a supervisor who is on a “fast tract” or rapid promotion, who will take you with them to either specialized duty assignments, or coveted Units within the department.  This is also where the term, “the Good ole boy network” comes from.  This mentality and practice kills morale and performance within the department. 

What characteristics are needed to be successful?

-Success is a broad term.  Success can be measured in a variety of ways depending on what you hope to accomplish or gain from your career.   Some view success as a numbers game.  How many lock ups, or car stops you make, or how many tickets you write.  Others by the money made.  How many hours of overtime you work, or how many “secondary gigs”, or part time jobs you can get.  Others yet, define it as the specialized units they work in, or the rank they obtain.  I define success as whether or not you have that sense of fulfillment.  It has taken me 15 years to change my definition of what I consider to be “success”.  But it is how I view it now.  It isn’t the money, or the numbers, or the special assignments.  It is the fact that every day I know that I have provided the best service I could for each particular situation or call I responded to that gives me the feeling of success.  For me to be successful, and for a lot of us out here, at least in patrol, it is doing our job the best we can.

What education, training, and skills are needed to obtain the job?

-Most Police departments only require a High School Diploma.  A few will accept a GED, but not many.  More Departments now require some college, whether it be a number of credits or an AA.  Federal agencies require a BS or a BA, and prior law enforcement experience.  My department requires a High School Degree.  To be Police, however, you also need a clean record free of arrests, and a “good” driving history.  After a series of tests and evaluations prior to employment, you are graded with the other applicants, and selections are made to enter the academy.  In my department you are paid while in the 26 week training academy.  The academy covers constitutional and criminal laws, state laws, county codes, and procedures of the department. Recruit officers are trained how to shoot, drive, and how to effect arrests.  They receive medical training, and other skills needed to effectively carry out their daily tasks.  After the recruits graduate, they participate in a period of time in field training.  They will ride with several training officers, or senior officers, and learn how to apply those new acquired skills in the “real world”.  While employed as a police officer, we are to attend several continuing education training courses or “in-service” training courses to maintain our certification. Topics are chosen by both the department’s training academy, and the State training commission. 

What advice would you give to someone who wanted a job like yours?

-Start in High School.  Know that decisions you make now, affect the chances of employment later.  The pool of qualified applicants is getting smaller every year due to recreational drug use and getting arrested for “petty” crimes such as shoplifting and underage drinking.  Also, take some college courses in law and criminal justice.  I would not recommend majoring in this field, as the only thing you can do with a criminal justice degree in law enforcement and progressing on to law school.  I majored in General Studies, but had a concentration in Crim. Justice, actually, I earned a certificate, but earning an AA in general studies allows me the chance to earn a major in a different topic when I decide to continue towards my BA or BS degree.  Don’t give up.  It takes several months and even a year or more, to go through the hiring process to be a police officer.  The training is demanding, both mentally and physically.  I wish I was more prepared physically before being hired.  I struggled with the highly athletic atmosphere of the police academy.  Finally, know what you want and what you are getting in to.  Do several “ride-a-longs” and experience what a day is like as a police officer.  Decide if it is something you like, and something you can handle.  Police work is not like the movies, or TV.  It is demanding.  It will take a toll on your body, and your mind.  It will change who you are and your personality.  It is good work, it is a noble profession, if you go in with realistic goals and expectations, this career is and can be very rewarding.

   Well, that was the questionnaire.  I hope that student gets a good grade.  Mostly Because they are kin to me, but also, because i gave them some good stuff.  Joking aside, Answering this simple set of questions was pretty helpful.  I got to see it written, or typed, down  It makes ya think and reflect.  

What are some of your answers to the questions?  How would you define success as a Police Officer?

Till next time....stay safe out there!

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