On My Way Up

by Officer J
(Noblesville, IN, Hamilton)

I was in the position of a corrections officer at a county juvenile. I feel I have a lot of potential and felt that I was not going anywhere higher in my position (at least for a while.) So I decided I would apply for a patrolman position for the local police department.

It took me quite a while to get the position as there are a lot of qualifications I had to meet. First you apply then you wait.

The police department here hires in sessions so I had to wait for the next session. While I waited I worked out because you have to pass a physical qualification test. I also studied about criminal justice.

During the hire process you have to ride along with an officer and learn the ways to do things. I also went through Police Academy where they teach you many things from just basic police things to gun control.

I knew the position would be a great start for me to get a higher position within the law enforcement field because you learn so much from working the streets, from criminals, and the jail staff. You literally deal with everyone: the courts, the jail, other officers, the detectives, etc.

The best advice I could give someone is to be patient not all people make it during the first time around. Also apply to as many departments you can as that way if you get a response you can choose what department you'd like to work for.

I would also suggest you get a degree in something because you get paid more. Take as much training as you can. And remember each experience you have on patrol because it will help you to know how to deal with different situations.

Lisa's Response

Thank you, Officer J, for sharing your experiences in becoming a police officer.

I don't know what the hiring practices for police officers are like where you live, but where I live, the interview process is extremely difficult.

I haven't been through a police officer interview myself, but clients have told me they can be extremely stressful because the interviewers can be quite belligerent.

Of course, they only do that because they know you will deal with difficult people on the job, and they want to see that you can handle and diffuse a difficult situation, but that can be hard to remember when you are in the middle of a stress interview.

If you feel you need to make a career change, often the best place to start looking is with jobs that are related to your current job, so you can transfer your skills and experience to your new career.

I also wanted to highlight an important aspect of your career change for other readers

Officer J made a career change from Corrections Officer to Police Officer. His career change was to a job in a field that was very much related to his previous job.

This type of career change is much easier to do that a career change to a job that is completely unrelated to your current or previous jobs because you can use the skills, education and experience from your old job to convince employers you'd be great at the your career you are pursuing.

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