A rookie's guide to becoming a top cop
It is imperative that you understand the dynamics operating within your community as well as the dynamics at your agency
By Nicole Forzano
A recent consultation with a handful of expert sources close to PoliceOne produced a series of valuable tools that will apply to any new police recruit who aspires to one day hold a top position in an agency “Anywhere USA.” Officers who follow these four simple tips may find themselves a step ahead of the game, and on-track for a respectable career in law enforcement.
1.) Knowledge First
“Each new position requires more dedication more loyalty more intrusion on your time and space. Are you willing to leave some things behind to gain others? There is a price to pay and I believe it is worth it, but to be successful moving through the ranks you have to believe it too.”
“As a new recruit, I would be less concerned with achieving rank and more concerned about being the best you can be at each job you have. Be the best jailer, patrol officer, detective, etc. that you can. It’s ok to be ambitious, but you have to be careful...if you are known for ambition only, that is a no go. Work hard, learn your job, teach others, and be a good ambassador for your agency. If you do that, the rank will come, and others will want to follow you. If you work hard, keep your mouth shut (negativity is a career killer...even when you think it is warranted) and think big picture, you will be fine.”
“Read trade journals and legal updates. Volunteer for training within your agency.
“Too many young police officers want to move on and up before they really have a good foundation. They think that because they have graduated from the academy and completed the field training program, they know the job. I think that most veteran officers would agree with the statement, "They have only begun to know the job." The lack of a solid foundation will come to hurt these new officers in the long run.”
2.) Embrace Diversity
“We all work together at this agency for a common goal to serve our citizens no matter the division or squad. Team work!”
“Seek out, and even create, multiple opportunities daily for positive personal contacts with the reasonable members of your community in "non-law-enforcement" encounters. This helps in a number of ways, but two stand out. One, it gets the new officer in the practice of drawing the community TO him or her, instead of pushing them away. Two, it begins on-the-job training for becoming an expert at human interpersonal skills, which is where most people get paid in their careers... So, when you enter a restaurant, market, post office, or whathaveyou, take your sunglasses off, make eye contact with someone, smile, and say, ‘Hey, how’s it going?’ Begin early letting people look into your eyeballs!”
"You must be willing to talk to anybody. You cannot pre-judge anyone as having nothing important to say to you. You never know who will give you an important piece of information." I was given this advice many years ago and found it to be so very true.”
3.) Protect Your Rep!
“Stay out of trouble! There are no secrets in law enforcement.”
“Departments will forgive crashed cars, misused sick time, late reports or reports you kissed off and should have taken. They will even assist you should you become dependent on alcohol or prescription drugs. You may not get a paycheck for a long time because you are on unpaid leave or suspension, you may have to go through a rough patch in life, you may even get scrutinized over and over...but you will still have a job and a chance to make that up and redeem yourself. If however, you lie...which is a specific intent "crime," you will certainly be fired, and deservedly so. I would rather work with a dumb ass or someone who has less than a stellar reputation, than someone that will lie about things.”
4.) Your Duty, Off Duty
“If you are married, make sure you spend quality time with your family, because you cannot focus on your job if you have problems at home.”
“Don’t forget to enjoy your experience as a police officer. Once you begin the rise through the ranks, if you have not been fully satisfied at the prior level, you will long for what you’ve left behind. Once you have satisfied your basic needs as a police officer you can set your site on promotion.”
|Back to previous page|