The career of a police officer is one of the most demanding that anyone might have had. It is one of the foundations of government in its role in the preservation of peace and justice, and hence of law and order. An enormous duty allows a person to possess tremendous loyalty, bravery, and expertise in carrying out multiple tasks at work. A police officer is empowered to make arrests and participate in prosecutions if a crime is committed in order to help address the problems that could have occurred in a community. The requirements for an individual to become a police officer include proof of adulthood and citizenship, driver’s license, success in the police academy entrance examination, and any other added skills than one may possess. The starting salary is pegged between $26, 000 and $ 49, 000 annually, and increases with experience and increase in the number of academic qualifications.
Becoming a Police Officer
The job of a police officer is closely associated with the maintenance of law and order. It is the constitutionally described based on the center-point of enforcing laws in the public (Carmen, 2013). This means that they are legally given the mandate to detect and deter crime, and make arrests of possible troublemakers and criminals. All efforts are made in order to maintain the safety of the public as well as peace and order. Due to the enormity of their job, they are granted the authority to make instant decisions that would be in the best interest of the public, which includes presiding over conflicting situations, taking statements from witnesses to any kinds of crime. Whenever there are riots or any rowdy situations, they are permitted to exercise the lowest possible force that will be needed to contain the situation. For this, they are allowed to walk with firearms, meaning that they may use them to defend themselves in tough situations that endanger their lives. This level of power requires a proportionally great measure of responsibility, which must be expressed in one’s character. Police officers are the guards of the public, and should have a high moral standing as well as impartiality; any kind of bias is likely to result in chaos as they may arrest or kill people with malicious intentions, instead of level-headed, lawful judgment.
In order to become a police officer, there are certain basic requirements that one must have in order to qualify. The most fundamental is good education. A police officer should be able to interact with people well as well as be a good judge of situations and character. In order to develop this skill, basic education is required. A high school diploma or GED is sufficient for one to be potentially a police officer (“How to Become a Police Officer”, 2017). This level of education is enough for an individual to be able to possess a good level of technique in handling people as well as the skill to analyze situations and come up with the best solution at the moment. As a police officer, the analytical skill is important, not only for situations that bed the best-case scenario, but also for people and their behaviors. In this, knowledge in psychology is important. Therefore, additional education may help improve the skill and perspective of looking at various scenes in order to determine various possible outcomes, in relation to the law. Essentially, many law enforcement agencies prefer to hire individuals with a degree or post-graduate credits in certain disciplines to become law-enforcing officers. Another qualifier is character. A US citizen or legal resident who is above the age of 18 and having a driver’s license may potentially become a police officer. Also, one is expected to have led a responsible and criminal free life; meaning that he or she should have no records of felonies.
The police academy is also an essential part of an individual’s journey towards becoming a police officer. It is the first real step that shows that a person is interested in the career option. One has to pass the law enforcement entrance exam before he or she can be admitted to the school. Examples of tests given include Compass, Asset, and the Law Enforcement Examination (LEE) (“Police Academy Entrance Requirements”, 2016). Before anyone can be allowed to practice as a police officer, he or she must prove competence in the disciplines that are taught at the police academy. Some of the subjects taught include criminal statutes, search and seizure, firearm training, traffic laws, physical conditioning, and driver training (“How to Become a Police Officer”, 2017). The largest constituents of the police force are college-level graduates (33.8 %), followed by bachelor’s degree holders, with 27.1%. The complete information is shown pictorially on a pie chart in the appendix (“Information about police and Sherrif patrol officers”, n.d).
Career advancement is also based on education. Obtaining extra certificates such as bachelor’s degree and other certifications related to law, wildlife, and forensic science is a positive move for those in the service, or those with the intention to join the force. Careers in the FBI, CIA, US Wildlife Service, US Fish departments require specialized knowledge (Hilal & Densley, 2013). Also, those with professional skills such as medicine, engineering, psychology, and architecture, among others are assigned to tasks and responsibilities that will get them to utilize their knowledge. As an individual gains more knowledge, their options for career advancement continue to increase, so that in the end, he or she may decide to become a professor in his or her specialty field. Experience in handling field work is highly essential. Dealing with people from varied backgrounds and having different thoughts is difficult, especially for starters (Life, 2013). Therefore, a person with a great number of years of attachment with the service has a skill in handling situations and getting information with the least amount of effort.
Salaries of various people in the police service vary significantly depending on entry qualifications as well as the position of occupation. A person with basic requirements gets only the basic minimum salary, which averages $26, 000 per year (Campbell, 2017). Those with professional skills have a higher starting salary, which may range between the minimum and $49,500. According to the Bureau of labor Statistics, the median salary of all police officers was $54, 230 in 2011, and that for the bottom 10% was a maximum of $32, 080 (Campbell, 2017). However, the factor of who gets what amount was dependent upon one’s state of residence and practice. For instance, Miami police officers were payed $45, 929, Los Angeles, $46, 583, and Ohio, $43, 430 (Campbell, 2017). Those with at least 60 credit hours earned $48, 462 on average, nationally, while those with Bachelor’s degree earned an average of $50, 342.
Each field in the force has unique independent averages. For instance, a bailiff earns about $41, 670, a detective $77, 210, and transit police $59, 670. The average salary for a private investigator is $45, 610. At the helm of the career, the police supervisors earn an average of 82, 090.
This career is one of the fundamental pillars of any nation. Proper functioning of a government is dependent on the sanity, calm, and order of its people. Regardless of whether the country is democratic, aristocratic, monarchic, or dictatorial, the police force stands as the tool of enforcing the law and governmental directives. In Democratic countries, the police have a greater responsibility as they have to act out of their will in the interests of the public. Therefore, it is imperative that, for the sake of peace and unity of a community, the police force be the epitome of level-headedness, sanity, and integrity.
Fig. 1: The proportion of the educational levels of police officers.
“How to Become a Police Officer”. (2017). LAW ENFORCEMENT DEGREES & POLICE CAREERS. Retrieved from http://www.learnhowtobecome.org/police-officer/
“Information about police and Sherrif patrol officers”. (n.d). Information about police and Sherrif patrol officers. Retrieved from http://jobland.us/careers/police-and-sheriff-patrol-officers
“Police Academy Entrance Requirements”. (2016). Police Academy Entrance Requirements. Retrieved from http://www.reinhardt.edu/working_adults/Public-Safety-Institute/Police-Academy/entrance-standards.html
Campbell, R. (2017). A Police Officer’s Starting Salary. Retrieved from http://work.chron.com/police-officers-starting-salary-6740.html
Carmen. (2013, April 30). Law Enforcement and the United States Constitution. Retrieved from http://www.utahstatetrooper.com/law-enforcement-and-the-united-states-constitution/
Hilal, S., & Densley, J. (2013, May). Higher Education and Local Law Enforcement. Retrieved from https://leb.fbi.gov/2013/may/higher-education-and-local-law-enforcement
Life, B. (2013, August 14). Why Gaining Work Experience Is More Important Than Your Education. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brazen-life/why-gaining-work-experien_b_3750261.html