Police Life Series: Part 1 – The Hiring Process
SilverHart’s Police Life Series will post each Wednesday to give writers an insight into the daily life of law enforcement officers. There are so many phases to the profession that writers miss the opportunity to see the depth of effort and effect for doing the job.
THE HIRING PROCESS
So you are ready to make the commitment. Now what?
Hiring into a law enforcement agency can be much more difficult than any other profession. The process is usually long and involves multiple stages before you may be considered for employment.
Hiring processes may take as long as one year before the applicant is contacted by the agency. Within that period many find work elsewhere, join the military or redeploy or enroll in college courses.
On average, less than 10% of applicants are hired into law enforcement. The many phases seem to DQ or wash candidates out.
People base their knowledge of policing on what they’ve read in books or seen in TV, movies and myth. Watching Law & Order: SVU will not prepare you for a job in policing.
Know the requirements for the agency to which you are applying. Most have a minimum age of 21, but some allow applicants at age 18.
Does the agency DQ for felony arrests and/or convictions. What about misdemeanor arrests and / or convictions.
Is college required, and if so will they substitute military service?
Is there a residency requirement, and if so are you willing to relocate?
Know the basic requirements. Agencies will not bend the rules because you played through Call Of Duty on your PlayStation without getting killed.
Most agencies require a written test. This is a standard exam and you may purchase study materials and guides to prepare. This is usually the big wash out for most hopefuls.
Most agencies also give additional points for military service, college credits, or prior law enforcement service. Know the rules and the point system.
Lets say you pass the written portion. You will next move to an oral exam. This is a high-pressure interview before a panel of experienced law enforcement officers. They have a standardized selection of situational scenarios to read to you.
You will be graded not only on what you say, but how you say it. Posture, eye contact, voice inflection, tone and pronunciation are being graded.
There is also usually no “right” answer but you are being judged on your ability to use critical thinking and deductive reasoning skills. Think before you speak.
Consider the fact that an experienced investigator will work to dig up anything they can to discredit you. Criminal history, DWI, domestic violence, termination, or an active arrest warrant. These are all situations investigators uncover.
Once the dirt has been dug up, you may be required to submit to a lie detector exam, and a drug test. It’s unfortunate that many apply with the hopes that their past transgressions remain uncovered – they won’t.
Make sure your references have references. It’s a tough squeeze to get into that 10%, and the agency wants to make sure you’re worthy of wearing the same shield they do.
Bolster Your Position
Don’t wait until you fill out an application to show you want the job. Volunteer to do service work or apply as a Reserve Officer. Ask to go on ride-alongs to get an understanding of the agency and the requirements of the job. Volunteer to do internships if you are in college, and make opportunities for you to get noticed.
Physical Fitness Exam
Get in shape. If you wait until they call you for the PT Exam then its already too late. Fitness is a basic requirement for hire and a major requirement to complete the academy. Before you hand in that application, make sure you are prepared to run, push up, sit up and complete an obstacle course.
Did We Say It Already? Be Prepared
If you truly want to work in law enforcement then it is incumbent upon you to get yourself in the academic, physical, social and moral condition to apply and compete for the job. Make no mistake, it is a competition and your chances of winning are at or less than 10%. Do you have what it takes?
Friday, November 27, 2015
Fellow cop, retired chief of police, published author and friend, Scott Silverii, is publishing a series on his blog, SilverHart Writers, on policing, geared for the writer. Here is the first in the series,The Hiring Process.