...higher level of scrutiny
The weight of authority brings one particular
burden.  There's really no way to assess this
burden until you've completed your training and
you're thrown into the fray.  You'll have a head
start if you realize from the outset that you'll be
held to a higher level of scrutiny than any other
government official.  Unlike other government
officials, your behavior off-duty will be expected to
mirror your on-duty behavior.  You must be
prepared to conduct your personal life with the
same degree of discretion as your professional life.
…the true test
There's no way to know if you're truly suited to be
a police officer until you experience the true test.  
That test will probably come during the first year of
your career.  It will be totally unexpected.  You'll
probably be alone, and you'll be attacked by a
person armed with a deadly weapon sufficient to
take your life.  You will react, and your reaction will
provide you with the answers to the test.  It will be
a terrifying experience, but the terror will test your
ability to act soundly and decisively.  As long as you
take the person alive and uninjured, you'll be the
only person grading your test.  Your mind will be
able to view the incident like a slow motion video
over and over, and you'll never forget a single detail
of it for the rest of your life.  There will be a short
period afterward where you'll evaluate whether or
not to continue your career, but once you
determine that you acted free of panic, you'll
probably continue your career and be better for the
...literacy helps
Police work is not limited to chasing and capturing
criminals.  In fact, all the chasing and capturing
doesn't amount to much unless the police officer
has the ability to communicate events in writing so
that criminals can be prosecuted, so literacy helps.  
Now, don't let this requirement for literacy scare
you, because police officers are, in fact, some of the
worst at communicating events in writing. With all
the hype about police departments hiring college
graduates, I doubt you'd find many with degrees in
…longevity it's not
The first thing you should notice is that nearly every
police department is hiring. Another thing you
should realize is that attrition for police officers is
very high. Even with the attractive salary and
benefit packages offered by nearly all departments,
it's safe to say that fewer than half continue their
careers to retirement, so longevity it's not.  Many
people join only for the attractive salary and
benefits while ignoring the true demands of the
career, so the high attrition rate should not be
surprising.  If you're considering a career as a police
officer based solely on the salary and  benefits,
you'd be better off, for the long run, seeking
another vocation.
…indispensable character trait
If you're a person who thrives on attention and
recognition, you could run into problems.  While
you'll find some police officers who will do just
about anything to grab the credit for just about
everything, you'll soon recognize these people and
tire of them even sooner.  An individual who craves
constant recognition usually exudes reckless self
confidence in everything he or she does.  As a
police officer, particularly a brand new one, this
exercise of self confidence can lead to disaster. Self
confidence is an indispensable character trait for a
police officer, but you must realize that your self
confidence is only as good as the knowledge and
experience upon which it is built.  If you understand
that you're entering a twenty to thirty year ongoing
learning experience, you'll do just fine, and your self
confidence will never fail you.
…self satisfaction
If you thrive on self satisfaction, this is the job for
you.  Among all the aggravations and pitfalls you'll
encounter during your career, you'll experience
countless opportunities to affect the lives of
countless people in so many positive ways.  If you
decide to become a police officer now, that decision
will actually save lives in the future.  You'll know
when you save a life by the overt action you take.
You'll never know how many lives you've saved by
just simply being there.  Either way, how much
more self satisfaction could anyone desire?
Barnes & Noble.com
Are You Ready for a Career as a Police
…the best education on Earth
There is no other profession, occupation, or
endeavor you could undertake where you'll
experience the realities of life at their best and
worst.  If you keep at it long enough, you'll interact
with every level of society, and you'll learn there's
not a lot of difference among people regardless of
their educational or economic achievements.  People
sit in classrooms for years trying to learn why
people do the things they do.  In the end, their
education is nearly all based on theory and
hearsay.  As a police officer, you'll be a participant
in, and an eyewitness to, the realities most people
only read about. It's the best education on Earth.
You must possess the elements of compassion and
adventure to be a police officer.  The proportion of
these elements relative to the other will change as
your career progresses.  Your compassion will be
tempered by the unbelievable deceit you'll
experience, and the adventure will be tempered by
some really scary, life threatening situations.
...entrusted with enormous power
As a police officer, you'll be entrusted with
enormous power.  You will routinely, and lawfully,
deprive your fellow citizens of their liberty.  More
importantly, you may find yourself in a situation
where you could be forced to take a human life. This
power separates you from the rest of society.  No
other government official possesses the breadth
and depth of authority as does a police officer.
Chapter One
Becoming a Police Officer
Becoming A Police Officer
An Insider's Guide
to a Career in Law Enforcement
Chapter One

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