A Sit-Down With My Local Police: 10 Reasons They Became Police Officers

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The local police department in my old neighborhood sponsored a Citizens Academy. The Academy was an effort to build stronger relationships between police officers and community members. People who joined had the unique opportunity to get a better sense of what it really meant to be a police officer in our neighborhood.

I joined the Citizens Academy. I spent one night a week meeting with officers throughout the Department. We talked about what kind of work they did, what kind of training they went through, and what their visions were for our neighborhood.

We also had the chance to talk about why they decided to become police officers. It was amazing that no matter what their rank or unit, so many of them joined for similar reasons. Here’s a list of some of what they shared.

10 Reasons to Become a Police Officer

  1. Many joined to fulfill a childhood dream. At some point, most of us have dreamt about being a police officer. Turns out, some people have the courage to make their dreams come true.
  2. Many wanted to continue their military work. Several of them had enlisted in the military right out of high school, but later decided the military wasn’t for them. Moving every few years, being called to war – these are not for everyone! Being a police officer allowed them to stay in a similar line of work without dealing with issues inherent in military life.
  3. A lot of the officers like working with animals.

    In this video, an officer introduces us to this K9 partner, Axel, and tells us a little about the training police dogs go through. The city I lived in had a Horse Unit and K-9 Unit, so these officers got to capitalize on their love of animals.
  4. Providing stability for their families is so important. As tenuous a job as being a police officer can be, it can also provide stability. Several of the officers commented on how important it was to them to have jobs that provided health insurance, paid sick leave, and even opportunities for overtime pay. Being a police officer gave them some security in their ability to take care of their families.
  5. Several of them are thrill seekers! As one of the officers I met shared, “Being a police officer is not a typical 9-5 job. Each day is different and that’s why I love it.” Sounds like this is not a job for someone who thrives on routine and predictability.
  6. All of them enjoy working in a team. Unlike their portrayal on television, police officers are always working in teams and all of them seem to enjoy it.
  7. The law is important to them. So many of the police officers I met are passionate about the law. And not just knowing the law, but enforcing it too. Doing the right thing is important to them and being a police officer allows them to maintain order in the community. Being able to make their neighborhoods safer by catching criminals keeps many of these officers coming to work each day.
  8. Some of the officers studied criminal justice. A few of the officers I met talked about studying criminal justice in college. Actually becoming an officer was a logical next step for them.
  9. A few officers were continuing a family tradition. Some of the officers I met in the Academy had joined because the profession is a family tradition. There is something very noble about being in law enforcement, and the tradition of family ties just seems to strengthen that.
  10. So many wanted to serve their community. Some people don’t care about the future of the community, but all of the officers I talked to did. And not only did they care, but they were willing to do the work to make their neighborhoods better.

Although they might not have said it, all of the officers are community leaders. They see issues in the neighborhood and are working to make them better. Even more impressive, being a police officer means having the opportunity to serve other communities.

Look at Thomas Vaziri , for example. He’s a seven year old who’s been inspired by police officers just by reading about them.

“My name is Thomas Vaziri, and I am seven years old. Me and my mom liked the advertisement about the policeman’s pants falling down on page 11. Please keep writing funny advertisements and I will read them. I also liked the serious article about the car falling in the sinkhole. I want to be in a SWAT team when I grow up. I really like your magazine and hope you publish my letter. – Sincerely, Thomas Vaziri (Jamaica Plain, MA).

“I am Thomas Vaziri’s reading tutor, and I just wanted to thank you for increasing Thomas’ enthusiasm about reading. I clip the child-friendly articles and ads for him out of American Police Beat and Thomas reads them with great interest. This newspaper has helped him realize that learning to read better will help him in his future career as a police officer – Christine Mandell.

Being a police officer puts you in a unique position – people across the nation are aware of and interested in the effects of your work. If you’re someone who likes to have influence, then being a police officer just might be a good fit.

Do these reasons apply to you?

As previously mentioned, these are just some of the most common reasons the police officers I met decided to pursue a career in law enforcement. And most importantly, perhaps, these reflections came from officers throughout the department with varying numbers of years on the force.

Maybe you’re thinking of being a police officer too, but are worried because you don’t identify with any of the ideas in the above list. But don’t fret! Just like with any job, each individual has his/her own unique reasons for choosing to pursue a career in law enforcement.

Do you want to be a police officer? Get your law enforcement degree and fulfill your dream!

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