Choosing Your
Career Path
by Barry M. Baker
As a police officer, you’ll be the first and
last line of defense [within] a civil
society.  As a soldier, sailor, airman, or
marine in the United States Military,
you’re the first and last line of defense
[for] that civil society.

There’s a segment of American society
that discounts the importance of the
American military on many levels.  The
range of opposition goes from simple
disinterest to advocating for the
elimination of any meaningful form of
national defense.  This same segment
views and advocates against police
officers in much the same way.

I joined the United States Army in 1967,
and I became a police officer in 1971, so I
have a pretty good frame of reference
and understanding of misguided people
based upon a considerable amount of
experience.  If you’re at a point in your
life where you’re thinking about joining a
branch of the military or becoming a
police officer, you might well be counseled
against doing either by two groups of
people.  The first group will be family and
friends who care about you, and most
opposition voiced by this group will be
done solely out of a sincere concern for
your safety and wellbeing.  The second
group will be comprised of people who
have absolutely no business counseling
you about anything.  The second group
views the military and police only as
necessary evils with very little emphasis
placed on “necessary.”
Ever since my youthful military service,
I’ve tried to understand those who have
never served lecture others about the
immorality of military service.  Some
things just never change.  When I joined
the army, the Vietnam War was reaching
its zenith, and many young men were
working very hard to avoid being
drafted.  While one can understand the
displeasure of those being required to
serve when they didn’t want to serve,
one has to wonder why anyone would
object to the current all volunteer United
States military.  The answer isn’t really
that complicated.  Some critics will never
respect or appreciate the service of those
who dedicate their lives to careers that
ensure an environment in which those
critics will have the freedom to criticize.  

The biggest mistake many young people
make after graduation from high school is
wasting time between the ages of 18 to
25.  If you’re lucky enough to be on your
way to college right out of high school, it’
s a good opportunity to acquire what is
becoming, if not already become, the new
high school diploma.  While attending
college, one can take advantage of the
various ROTC (Reserve Officers Training
Corps) programs offered on or off

Let’s say you get a Bachelor’s degree in
anything followed by let’s say a three
year commitment to the U.S. Army.  
Now… by age 25 you’ve got your degree,
and you currently have the rank of
captain.  It’s now time to make a
decision.  Do you continue a military
career, or do you leave the military and
pursue a police career?  The nice thing
about this scenario is that you’ll be
qualified for entry level to any police or
other law enforcement agency in the

Okay… that’s an ideal career path;
however, for many reasons it won’t be a
reality for many young people.  For many
of you, the cost of a college education
right out of high school won’t be
feasible.  The United States Military has
always been a good option, depending
upon ones beliefs’ system and financial
position, for those who want to make the
most of their early adult years.  Let me
say right here that military service isn’t
going to be for everyone, and I am
biased toward the benefits of military
service.  I’ve never regretted my service,
and I believe that if you’re interested in
preparing yourself for success in
anything, three or four years of military
experience will only enhance your
preparation for success.

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Copyright © 2021  Barry M. Baker  
United States
Becoming a Police Officer
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