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Old 02-20-2006, 08:42 PM   #1
motorman4life
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Thumbs up Becoming a LEO 101

This was sent to me via PM and I figured I'd post it here for those that are interested. If there are any other LEOs out there that would like to chime in with information, corrections or advice, please do so in this thread. ~MM4L

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undisclosed wrote on 02-20-2006:
Hi,
I've noticed that you post regularly in the LEO forum. When I graduate, I plan on becoming an officer, but am confused as to the process of doing so. What is the first thing I have to do? Interview? I've read that there's a test I have to take and then there's a physical test, but then where does the academy come into this situation? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
The best thing to do is contact an agency in your area that you would be interested in joining and ask to speak with a recruiter or background investigator. They can advise as to the requirements they are seeking in applicants. Once you are confident you meet their bar, you would complete an application and request a ride-a-long (if possible) with a patrol officer and do some research on their jurisdiction and agency. Many departments offer ride-a-longs for their citizens (reisdents), many do not. Most of those that do not, will allow (or encourage) a ride-a-long for an applicant to their agency.

It is also a good idea to try to get ride-a-longs with adjacent agencies to get a better picture of things. Sometimes people in a nearby agency will be more frank with you about the problems they see with their neighboring agency.

Unless you are a lateral or pre-trained (completed the POST academy), most departments will require a physical agility and written test, which are usually done at a regional center and hosted on a regular basis. Satisfactory completion will garner you a certificate that would be attached to your application with your resume, diploma, college transcripts and a recent copy of your driving record. They may not require all of these things up-front, but having them all together with your application cannot hurt. It shows you are thorough and prepared.

At the interview, you can use the information you gained on the ride-a-long and through your research to show the interview panel how much you have done to prepare and how you are sure your selection would be mutually beneficial.

If you are hired as a trainee, you will be sponsored through a 5-6 month POST police academy. After you graduate, you will start a 4 to 6 month FTO (field training officer) period where you will work with several senior training officers on a variety of shifts, being trained, tested, observed and evaluated daily.

Once you are successfully released from FTO, you will have a remaining 12 to 14 months of probation. On FTO, your work schedule will mirror the FTO you are assigned to, so in all likelihood, you will have weekends off, etc… Once you are released, you will likely go to the most undesirable days and shifts until you earn the seniority to choose something more appealing.

Each department is a little different in the way they do things. Most here in CA will stick to this regime, good or bad, that's pretty much the way it is.


Added advice, for those young people considering a career in law enforcement:
For all of the stereotypes and images seen in movies and TV shows, I have to tell you, by and large, you will find 99% of the cops that you meet are totally down to earth, fun-loving people that would give you the shirts off their backs. Yeah, some are jaded or "salty" and some are hand-jobs and slackers, but they are really good people, out there bustin' their asses to try to make a difference in their communities.

If you get into law enforcement, you will see for yourself. Don't be put off by those you may meet in the interim that only show a rough exterior. In many cases, you will discover it is merely a defense mechanism.. and maybe someday you'll even understand it.

True enough, law enforcement has changed a lot over the years, some for the better, some for the worse. One thing hasn't changed though. If you excel, you will be recognized. No doubt education is highly stressed, now more than ever. Coming in with a BA or BS (in anything and from any credentialed school) would really boost your earning potential and increase opportunities for specialty assignments.

I suggest a BS in computer science as I really feel high-tech is the new frontier for crime and those with the credentials in the tech field will be in a prime position when those investigative and enforcement opportunities avail themselves in your career. If college is not for you, consider military service. If the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marines don't appeal to you, check out the Coast Guard. If that won't work for you, look into the Peace Corps and Habitat for Humanity.

Other than an AA or BS/BA degree and/or the military and non-military services.. Stay out of trouble. Don't fuck up your driving/criminal/credit records.
Get out on your own. Too many 21 to 25 year old applcants live w/ Mommy and are seen as "not having enough life experience." College and military will help, but only if you are away from home.
Work on your fitness. Run, workout. Ensure you can pass the POST physical agility test. At a minimum, you must be able to jump/climb a 6-foot fence in under 30-seconds without assistance, do 30 sit-ups in 1 minute, run 2 miles in under 20 minutes, bench press 65% of your body weight and do a 300 meter sprint in 70 seconds.
Learn Spanish.. seriously, learn Spanish.


Best of luck.
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Last edited by motorman4life; 06-23-2008 at 06:12 PM..
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Old 02-20-2006, 09:07 PM   #2
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Very interesting mm4l. Thanks for the info.

(Don't worry, I'm not applying. )
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Old 02-20-2006, 09:17 PM   #3
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Now is the time if you want to be a police officer. If you have a clean background, common sense, and a desire to be a good worker at a great job, you can pretty much take your pick of any California agency. Every agency I know is operating short. 3% @ 50 retirement benefits are draining most agencies of their senior officers. The prior few years of budget crunches has restricted hiring. The budgets are opening up now and everyone is hiring or will be shortly.

The policticians are looking at scaling back retirement benefits in the near future. It will likely become a two tiered system with those hired before a certain date enjoying the current benefits we fought so hard for. Those hired after the cut off date will get a lower retirement plan. This may be some incentive to get on board now.

Entry level testing should be occuring in numerous jurisdictions. Where once an agency only took laterals or academy grads, they are realizing now that if they don't go after entry level candidates, there is too much competition for the grads and laterals now.

Apply where you want to work plus a few agencies where you wouldn't mind working. Getting a job as a police officer has never been so easy.
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Last edited by silversvs; 02-20-2006 at 09:40 PM..
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Old 02-21-2006, 10:23 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by silversvs
Now is the time if you want to be a police officer. If you have a clean background, common sense, and a desire to be a good worker at a great job, you can pretty much take your pick of any California agency. Every agency I know is operating short. 3% @ 50 retirement benefits are draining most agencies of their senior officers. The prior few years of budget crunches has restricted hiring. The budgets are opening up now and everyone is hiring or will be shortly.

The policticians are looking at scaling back retirement benefits in the near future. It will likely become a two tiered system with those hired before a certain date enjoying the current benefits we fought so hard for. Those hired after the cut off date will get a lower retirement plan. This may be some incentive to get on board now.

Entry level testing should be occuring in numerous jurisdictions. Where once an agency only took laterals or academy grads, they are realizing now that if they don't go after entry level candidates, there is too much competition for the grads and laterals now.

Apply where you want to work plus a few agencies where you wouldn't mind working. Getting a job as a police officer has never been so easy.
does the same hold for reserve officers?
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Old 02-21-2006, 01:26 PM   #5
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Applying now....how long is this crazy hiring going to be? I don't graduate for another year (Spring of 07). And when is the best time to apply? A quarter before I graduate or earlier or even when I first get out?
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Old 02-21-2006, 03:05 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by cantonkiddo
Applying now....how long is this crazy hiring going to be? I don't graduate for another year (Spring of 07). And when is the best time to apply? A quarter before I graduate or earlier or even when I first get out?
There's this rule...guys with F4is can't be cops, only nurses
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Old 02-21-2006, 08:24 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by cantonkiddo
Applying now....how long is this crazy hiring going to be? I don't graduate for another year (Spring of 07). And when is the best time to apply? A quarter before I graduate or earlier or even when I first get out?
Since it can take some departments up to a year to get you through the process start to finish, you should start looking around now. I always recommend you call the personnel department of every agency you want to work for. Talk to them about what they forecast for job openings and testing dates. At minimum fill out an interest card. Its like a post card and when they are opening up testing they will mail it to you to let you know that they are testing. That way you do not have to keep checking back.
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Old 02-21-2006, 08:26 PM   #8
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Originally posted by Webberstyle
does the same hold for reserve officers?
Reserves work for free. Most agencies will take applications for reserves at any time. The problem is there are only so many hours available for the background guys to work. If they are busy doing officer backgrounds, there is no time to do the reserves.
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Old 02-21-2006, 10:51 PM   #9
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For Oakland, the hiring process takes 6 months, then off you go into the academy.

OPDs order of testing is ...
-writing test
-oral
-physical
-medical/ background
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Old 02-22-2006, 06:42 AM   #10
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This is really good info.

I've been contemplating taking the POST exam and occasionally thinking about changing over to become a LEO.

Thanks.
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Old 02-22-2006, 05:50 PM   #11
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Originally posted by silversvs
Reserves work for free.
Varies from dept to dept. Some departments pay their reserves really well.
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Old 02-22-2006, 06:57 PM   #12
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Last time I checked, Oakland, SF and Alameda County are hurting for guys ...
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Old 02-23-2006, 11:45 PM   #13
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Heard SJPD and SCPD are looking to put a full academy class of around 30 through.

Check it out!!

ZX.........
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Old 02-24-2006, 12:05 AM   #14
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At SJPD's pretestin seminar, the recruiters were actually saying the next January class is increased to 50 potentials. That is if they find 50 qualified folks.
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Old 02-25-2006, 05:35 PM   #15
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That is true about SJPD. I am in the background stage for July academy, and they are looking to fill a potential of 52 spots, that is if they can get 52 qualified applicatnts!
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