You are pinned down near a parked car by gunfire crisscrossing from two rivaling gangs with an innocent child you managed to grab from the street before the child was bout to be caught in the crossfire, you have the child in your arms with a gun in your other hand while you try to radio in for backup, the noise of the bullets across the street as the gangs are taking revenge on each other, the child in your arms starts to cry from all the noise from the guns, he cries for his mother. What do you do? Unfortunately, these are some of the situations that law enforcement officers face from time to time. Courage responsibility, self-control, dignity, honor, and willing to risk your life, or even making a difference on the streets is what makes up a fine police officer. A law enforcement officer is one career that I would like to pursue, because I to want not just to make a difference, but to lay my life on the line for my cities safety.
Qualifications needed to become a police officer vary from agency to agency, city to city, and state to state. Some qualifications are pretty standard: A minimum of twenty-one years of age, a U.S. citizen, a high school diploma, a clean criminal record, a valid drivers license, and good physical and mental health. The application is the beginning of the whole selection process; it s basically a form that tells the agency if the basic qualifications are met, and lets applicant go onto the written exam. The written exam is a basic test that allows the agency to see how well the applicant understands what he/she reads; writing skills, and math skills are also checked. If the applicant barely pass the exam with a score of seventy, it is unlikely that he/she will be hired when there are plenty of people who place in the nineties. The physical exam is next in the selection process, which involves a fair amount of running, lifting, and upper body strength requirements, which help determine if the applicant can handle a firearm. Some agencies give calisthenics and obstacle courses. Later on the department will have the applicant fill out a long form about his/her personal history. Someone from the recruiting officer will interview the applicant about the martial he/she filled on the form. Along with the personal history form, the applicant will be given an oral interview with two to five people. The interview typically assesses such qualities as personal skills, communications skills, judgment, and decision-making abilities. As the department begins to get serious about considering you, it will conduct an investigation into the applicant s background, using the history form that was filled out as a starting point. This step is the most important of the selection process, even though the results don t affect your score on the list. This is where the department not only checks the applicants experience and education; they also look at his/her character, integrity, honesty, and commitment. Everything said will be double check by a trained investigator. The investigator will ask his/her birthplace. Place of origin, schools attended, subjects studied, workplaces, tasks performed, basically his/her life will be laid out on paper. The department will go through a lot of trouble and expense to find out if the information is true. The polygraph test, or the lie detector test is part of the background investigation process that will typically be one of the last steps. After he/she has passed everything, a drug test is given for any illegal drugs that can be administered before an offer is employment. After getting hired by the police department the police recruit as to go through hard and extensive training in a police academy from nine to thirteen weeks, depending on how long your agency wants you to stay there. The academy consists of classrooms teaching many different subjects on policing, and hands on activities to make a police recruits skills better. Once the recruit is out of the academy he is a certified police officer.
Patrol officers patrol assigned sectors in motor vehicles or on foot, working alone or with a partner, paying close attention to conditions and people. During patrol, police officers observe suspicious behavior, conditions, or illegal activities in their sector and report incidents such as burglaries, bank robberies, homicides, rapes, suicides, assaults, and crimes in progress. They make preliminary investigations, question victims and witnesses, recover stolen property, and take evidence into possession. They arrest suspects at crime scenes or after pursuit and use physical force or guns to stop them. When making arrest, they advise suspects of their constitutional rights, as required by law, and transport them in police vehicles to police booking and detention facilities prior to court arraignment. At the time of trial, police officers testify in court to provide evidence for prosecuting attorneys. Also traffic control is an essential part of police patrol activities. Police officers direct and control pedestrian and traffic in big cities, or populated areas. They observe and pull over vehicles, and issue tickets for violations of traffic regulations. Other responsibilities include maintaining order and traffic flow during public gatherings, events, and emergencies such as riots, fires, car accidents or disasters, using crowd control and traffic directions techniques to carry out these assignments. They help first aid to victims of accidents or crimes and arrange for the dispatch of medical units to the scene. In these cases of traffic accidents, they investigate causes and record anything they find related to the accident. Assignment to patrol duty requires performance of a number of other tasks. Police officers check entrances and exits of commercial buildings for security during night times. In some police departments, officers inspect residential buildings for safety and suggest methods of improving security, such as installing special alarms, and locks. Police officers also provide information and assistance to citizens, help to settle dangerous problems when called on the scene, and may assist in case of emergency. They report conditions that are hazardous to the public such as obstructions, potholes, broken street lamps, and defective traffic lights. At the end of each days work, a police officer prepares a written activity report that descries arrest, incidents and submits it to a superior officer usually a police sergeant.
Many aspects of modern police service are complex and require use of specialized people. The degree of specialty with a police agency varies with the size and resources of the department, and needs of the community. Small communities usually require less specialty while specialists are needed in cites with high amounts of population. In small police agencies, specialists are generally used part-time, while the larger departments usually employ full-time specialists. Some of the specialized assignments include: Bomb squad officers, who are trained, police personnel officers, who respond to bomb treats. Community relations officer, who helps to develop and maintain contact between the police department and community groups, organizations, and schools in the city. Canine (K-9) officers are a tam with trained police dogs to provide help to other police officer units. Crime Prevention officers conduct security surveys in houses and commercial buildings, and suggest ways to improve security. Hostage Negotiation teams are trained officers who have the difficult job of rescuing hostages from terrorists. Juvenile units have the responsibility of conducting juvenile investigations. Property units are responsible for property confiscated as evidence, or items purchased by the police department. Fugitive search units are responsible for conducting investigations to locate and return fugitives.
Police officers have to work in any conditions. Many locations, which range from towns and country sides, to urban areas of all size, are working grounds for police officers. Working conditions vary according to location, size. Those who work in small towns and rural communities face problems different from those met by their counterparts in larger cities. There are differences in pace, types of criminals encountered, availability of manpower, and services needed to provide enough police protection to the public. But all police officers, regardless of where they work, share certain problems; they constantly deal with human suffering, yet must always maintain self-control, and act in a calm, efficient manner. They face danger, difficulty, and frustration daily, but can do little to prevent it from happening. They also share the problem of long irregular hours, and, in some communities, a lack of public support for police officers. Police officers conducting patrol or carrying out other assignments, work outdoors in all types of weather. Some officers on special duty may perform their duties indoor at police buildings. Depending on the size of the department, police officers work alone or may have a partner. Because police agencies operate twenty-four hours a day, officers are usually required to work five day rotating shifts, including holidays and weekends. Police officers are on call at all times, and, during periods emergencies or manpower shortages, are required to work more hours. All police officers, regardless where work or the size of the department must live with the threat of physical injury or even death. Suspects who may be armed and dangerous, situations involving high-speed chases, innocent people loosing their lives, or the rescue of people attempting suicide are some of the things that make this line of work dangerous. One law enforcement officer states how difficult it is while on the job.
I ve had people die in my arms. It s not always easy to play the macho part, to be strong and unmoved. I know there is nothing I can do to help them, but it s forceful feeling. Even the ones who deserve it I sometimes think that they could be family or a friend, and I hate to admit it but I ve shed some tears right along with them. I try to hold the emotions in check and save them for later, but when a guy or kid is taking his last breath, you forget the image. The image means nothing when a brother is saying his last goodbye. (qtd in Cohen 10)
A police officer s salary can vary greatly from agency to agency. Most departments have a minimum and maximum salary range. Two of the things that make a career in public safety so attractive are the salary and benefits. Based on the Labor Relations Information System s 1992 Wage and Benefits Survey in Southern California, an entry level, or minimum waged police officer would earn about two thousand dollars a month ($24,000 a year). The maximum is reached over a period of year by incremental step increases, usually it would top of at about thirty thousand to forty thousand dollars. Starting salaries vary widely thought the country. Usually the larger metropolitan areas offer the higher pay. Most law enforcement agencies offer benefits to employees and their families. A police agency (employer) would cover ninety-four percent of the full family premium heath insurance contribution, and the individual himself (employee) would cover the other six percent. Retirement plans are also available for police officers. A police officer can take eighty-sex hours of holiday leave per year, and one hundred forty hours of vacation hours per year, plus three hundred and fifty dollars a year for plain clothes allowance. Normally, law enforcement agencies go through annual contract negotiations for pay increases and additional benefits.
Law informant officers are unique from most of the other jobs out there because they lay their lives on the line everyday to keep the community safe from criminals or unwanted actions. The job requires officers to be in their best state, both physically, and mentally, because the day is spent cautiously, the officers take things from daily job tasks as it comes to them, not knowing previously. Officers wont have a stunt doubling for them, in car chases like in the movies. Cars collide, the bullets are real, and unlike in the movies, the good guys don t always win.