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An Insider's Guide
to a Career in Law Enforcement

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A Most Honorable
and
Important Profession
Copyright © 2019  Barry M. Baker  
CareerPoliceOfficer.com
Detective Lieutenant Barry M. Baker retired from the
Baltimore Police Department in 2004.  During his
thirty-two year career, Baker served as a patrol officer,
sergeant, and lieutenant, as well as a special
operations lieutenant and detective lieutenant.  Baker
spent the first twenty years of his career as a patrol
officer, making him uniquely qualified to speak from a
breadth and depth of experience.
There are Five Indispensable Truths
for a Successful Police Career:

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Becoming a police officer consists of three basic
parts: choosing a police department; navigating the
hiring process, and completion of police academy
training.  What comes afterward is a never ending
learning experience enabling you to gain an
understanding of the human condition from a
unique perspective.

While most people respect and appreciate the
service and contributions police officers provide to
society, there are a lot of critics and you’ll
encounter many of them.   You’ll soon realize that
just about anybody in any profession or occupation
will know your duties, responsibilities and authority
better than you.  You don’t even have to ask them
for their opinions; they’ll gladly provide you with
their views unsolicited.
Police officers most often get into trouble for things
they say which is why you should start making
adjustments to your behavior even before entering
the police hiring process.  If you’re prone to using
profanity, start breaking the habit or at least realize
that profanity will never aid you in performing your
duties.  At the very least, compartmentalize its use
away from police work whether it’s interaction with
the public or co-workers – think hostile work
environment.

Do you take outrageous, vulgar or demeaning
verbal insults directed at you personally?  Start
getting over that perfectly normal human reaction
as well.  In America, insulting a police officer is a
popular pastime for many.  The worst thing you can
do is verbally respond to the substance of the
insults.  Nothing looks worse to onlookers than a
police officer engaged in a shouting match with
some ideologically demented lunatic.

The only initial verbal response you need to make is
warning the person that his or her behavior could
subject the individual to arrest.  This
disimpassioned response will probably encourage
the person to push the envelope by increasing the
volume and substance of the insults.  As the
person’s behavior draws the attention of onlookers,
you might want to give the person a second
warning.  At the point of your choosing, you can
end the spectacle with these words, “You’re under
arrest.”  This is the important point.  You’re not
arresting that person because he or she insulted
you.  You’re arresting that person because his or
her behavior disturbed the peace of others.  As a
legal point, a police officer’s peace cannot be
disturbed.  If this same scenario occurred in a
location where no other people were present, you’d
have no probable cause to make an arrest based on
the verbal behavior alone.
Controlling what you say and how you properly
react to stupid people or intelligent people intent on
baiting you into improper responses will serve you
well.  The intelligent cop hater might well engage
you in a friendly manner to put you off guard.  
Soon thereafter, unlike the lunatic, the verbal insult
will be delivered in a subtle manner.  I always found
that a brief stare with no verbal response followed
by totally ignoring the physical presence of the
person works well.  Nobody likes to be ignored,
especially a person who feels he or she is superior
to the person who is ignoring him or her.  This
leaves the intelligent insulter only two unfulfilling
choices – walk away feeling insulted by your total
disengagement or escalate to lunatic behavior and
risk the possibility of arrest.

After your graduation from the police academy,
you’re going be thrust into a totally different world
with so many things to learn.  There aren’t too
many guarantees in this world; however, I can
guarantee that you’ll have a much easier career
path if you can embrace these two simple
suggestions:

-        Erase profanity from your police vocabulary.

-        Don’t take anything personally.
"I can guarantee that you’ll have a much
easier career path if you can embrace these
two simple suggestions:

-        Erase profanity from your police
vocabulary.

-        Don’t take anything personally."
~ Barry M. Baker
Becoming a Police Officer