Law Enforcement

Florida Deputy Talks Suicidal Man Off of Overpass

Police Magazine - 2 min 57 sec ago

OCSO Sgt Jamie Hoffman talking a man off of a ledge on the I-4 overpass above Rio Grande Ave/33rd Street.  The Sgt built a rapport with him and gained his trust to come off of the ledge. The man was taken away for help.  Sgt Hoffman and responding deputies, making a difference. pic.twitter.com/B6vXW2PYQu

— OCSO FL News (@OrangeCoSheriff) June 17, 2018

Orange County (FL) Sheriff’s Deputy Jamie Hoffman talked a man off a ledge on Interstate 4 over the weekend, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

The agency posted an image to Twitter with the caption, “OCSO Sgt Jamie Hoffman talking a man off of a ledge on the I-4 overpass above Rio Grande Ave/33rd Street. The Sgt built a rapport with him and gained his trust to come off of the ledge. The man was taken away for help. Sgt Hoffman and responding deputies, making a difference.”

According to a sheriff’s spokesman, it took about 20 minutes of conversation to talk the man down.

 

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Categories: Law Enforcement

Horseheads Troopers Arrest Pennsylvania Man on Various Charges

State - NY Police - 1 hour 10 min ago
On June 14, 2018 Horseheads based State Police arrested a Pennsylvania man for drug and weapons charges.
Categories: Law Enforcement

Mississippi Officer Shot, Wounded During Warrant Service

Police Magazine - 1 hour 17 min ago

Hattiesburg (MS) police are searching for a suspect wanted for aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer who was shot in the leg Monday morning while trying to serve a warrant. Hattiesburg PD said on Twitter that Victor Kirksey should be considered armed and dangerous.

IMMEDIATE BOLO: Victor Kirksey wanted aggravated assault on a police officer. Considered armed and dangerous, do NOT make contact with the suspect call 911 immediately. pic.twitter.com/B2EuDOOHjr

— Hattiesburg PD (@HattiesburgPD) June 18, 2018

 

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Categories: Law Enforcement

New York Officer Injured by Fleeing Motorcyclist

Police Magazine - 1 hour 17 min ago

A 21-year-old man is facing two felonies after he injured a police officer with a dirt bike he was operating on a city street, Albany (NY) police said.

On Saturday evening, two officers “observed a group of dirt bikes driving erratically,” APD posted to the department’s Facebook page.

Those officers attempted to detain one of the dirt bike drivers for violating vehicle and traffic law. During that incident, the dirt bike driver attempted to flee, striking one of the officers — who sustained lacerations and bruising — and crashing into the door of their squad car.

The driver, Jahquell Griffen, “has been charged with Assault 2nd and Criminal Mischief 2nd. He was also cited for several violations of the vehicle and traffic law,” the department said on Facebook.

 

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Categories: Law Enforcement

22 Injured in Shooting at New Jersey Arts Festival

Police Magazine - 1 hour 17 min ago

The 24-hour “Art All Night Trenton 2018” arts festival in Trenton, New Jersey turned violent just before three in the morning on Sunday when gunfire suddenly erupted.

At least two gunmen opened fire, injuring 22 people, including a 13-year-old boy, according to the Washington Post.

A responding police officer fatally shot one of the suspects — the other gunman was arrested.

The shooting is believed to be gang-related.

“We believe it was a dispute between two neighborhoods that led to violence at the event. In no way was the event the target, it just happened to be the forum for the shooting,” Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo Onofri told ABC News.

 

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Categories: Law Enforcement

Civilian Bystander Hailed as Hero for Stopping Gunman on Father’s Day

Police Magazine - 1 hour 17 min ago

A Walmart customer is being “hailed as a hero” after he killed a gunman who wounded two people during a confrontation in Tumwater, Washington on Sunday evening.

A gunman reportedly opened fire inside the Walmart, according to KOMO-TV, then attempted to carjack a vehicle in the parking lot, shooting and injuring the carjack victim.

That’s when an as-yet-unnamed bystander shot and killed the assailant.

“Two other customers also reportedly pulled their weapons in case they were needed,” said KOMO.

 

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Categories: Law Enforcement

Romulus man gets arrested after traffic stop.

State - NY Police - 1 hour 24 min ago
On June 17, 2018, Troopers out of SP Romulus arrested Robert A. Prentice, 36, of Romulus, New York for unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, failure to stop for stop sign and inadequate stop lights.
Categories: Law Enforcement

Port Byron man gets arrested after traffic stop.

State - NY Police - 1 hour 33 min ago
On June 16, 2018, Troopers out of SP Auburn arrested Travis R. Jackson, 26, of Port Byron, New York for unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, failure to notify DMV of an address change and a seat belt violation.
Categories: Law Enforcement

New Haven (CT) Police Department

Police Magazine - 1 hour 36 min ago

Justin Brochu has always had a strong sense of community and a desire to serve others. His need to help led him to the United States Marine Corps after graduating from high school. Then after serving his country from 1999 to 2003, this appetite to assist led him to law enforcement, where he landed at the East Haven (CT) Police Department. Finally, his devotion for the disadvantaged prompted him to raise his hand high when the agency needed a leader to help start the East Haven Police Athletic League (EHPAL).

For the past three years, Sgt. Brochu has led the charge to launch EHPAL in his community. In this role, he has coordinated fundraisers, managed legal details, and organized activities to get this effort off the ground.

EHPAL is now in full swing, and Brochu is excited for the changes he's already seeing within the nearly 30,000-resident community. This program recently launched its first athletic offerings, at a discounted rate, for children within the community. With police officers actively involved in these activities, Brochu predicts they will help improve police interactions with young people, who will see officers in a very positive role.

"A lot of interactions young people have with police officers are negative. This program is designed to promote more positive interactions with the youth of the community," he says. "We have had overwhelming support from the community to get this program started."

A Show of Support

EHPAL is a registered 501(c)(3) that is organized under the National Association of Police Athletic/Activities Leagues Inc. This national association has as its mission to "work nationwide promoting the prevention of juvenile crime and violence by building relationships among kids, cops and community through positive engagement."

National PAL is based on the conviction that young people—if they are reached early enough—can cultivate strong positive attitudes toward law enforcement as well as a sense of inclusiveness and good citizenship. According to the National PAL website, "Studies have shown that if a young person engages and interacts with law enforcement on the ball field, gym, or in the classroom, the youth will likely come to respect the laws that police officers enforce. Such respect is beneficial to the youth, the police officer, the neighborhood, and the business community."

National PAL provides chapters like EHPAL, which have grown to more than 300 across the nation, with resources and opportunities to aid them in organizing these programs. The resources the national organization offers may include funding opportunities through various grants, general liability protection options, programmatic opportunities through partner organizations, as well as goods and services provided by corporate partners and supportive like-minded organizations.

Even with National PAL's assistance, however, Brochu explains it took three years for his organization to launch its chapter. Besides needing to raise funds, EHPAL had to navigate the proper IRS paperwork for its nonprofit status and other legal matters.

Brochu and other officers volunteering for EHPAL worked tirelessly during this time to solicit support from the community, working with businesses such as Chili's Grill & Bar, Overshores Brewing Company, and Chipotle Mexican Grill, as well as private individuals.

They also organized fundraisers including a cornhole tournament, sponsored by Overshores Brewing Company, and a Kick-a-Thon, sponsored by Mike Conroy's American Martial Arts. The Fall Festival Road Race also pledged its proceeds to this program while Chipotle held a fundraising evening where they donated 10 percent of their sales to EHPAL.

"The support we have gotten from the community has been amazing," Brochu adds, noting they raised more than $5,000 to support the program, which like anything worthwhile has a cost.

He explains, "The insurance premiums for this program are $2,000 a year," he says. "We also have to stay affiliated with National PAL which is $500 a year. We also purchased T-shirts and uniforms for participants."

Put on Your Boxing Gloves

Boxing and martial arts offerings are among the programs that National PAL has found to work, and it is among the programs EHPAL is able to offer.

Mike Conroy, owner of Mike Conroy's American Martial Arts in East Haven, has offered his venue for the EHPAL programs. Brochu says that registration for the karate classes (ages 8 to 12) and boxing classes (ages 12 to 16) is underway. The program offers the classes at a discounted rate of $65 for six months, but registration is limited to 12 students per class and participants must be East Haven residents. The classes meet twice a week.

"They save close to $400 on the classes, which typically run around $120 a month," Brochu says. Afterward students are encouraged to continue with classes, though the discount has ended. Currently EHPAL does not offer any scholarships for ongoing participation, but Brochu says that may change as community support grows.

Young people must apply to be considered for the program. "Every application is run by the board of directors for approval," he says.

He adds the martial arts are great offerings for such a program because "the focus is self-discipline. When you work with an instructor like Mike Conroy, he will hold you accountable and that will help you use your new skills for the right reasons and not the wrong ones."

The program provides opportunities for kids to learn a new skill while also promoting positive interactions with local police. Officers stop by regularly to observe classes and interact with local youngsters.

The classes begin with an orientation on the program and what is expected of them during class. Brochu adds, "We check in on them during classes, both to cheer them on and to be there to help if they need to talk."

The Future

East Haven Police Chief Ed Lennon is quoted as saying, "We look forward to bridging the gap between the community's youth and the police department. Fostering a better relationship with our town's youth has always been a top priority for myself and for the officers who interact with them every day. We look forward to seeing what the future holds."

Adds Brochu, "Though our foundation is karate and boxing, we are also looking at adding flag football and baseball clinics and possibly lacrosse and soccer in the future."

The program will only grow as it moves forward and it will foster better police-public relations, Brochu predicts. "It sets the tone for the relationship going forward. Young people often automatically think of a police officer in a negative aspect but having positive interactions with police, who are able to mentor them and give them more of a personal experience, will help improve relations down the road."

Any police agency is eligible to participate in the National PAL program. To learn more about the National PAL program visit the website at http://www.nationalpal.org/.  

Ronnie Garrett is a freelance writer based in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.

 

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Categories: Law Enforcement

Lyons man gets arrested for UPM.

State - NY Police - 1 hour 38 min ago
On June 16, 2018, Troopers out of SP Lyons arrested Adam E. Stauffer, 35, of Lyons, New York for unlawful possession of marijuana and a violation of driver's view obstructed by objects.
Categories: Law Enforcement

Liverpool man gets arrested for UPM.

State - NY Police - 1 hour 42 min ago
On June 16, 2018, Troopers out of SP Lyons arrested Brandon T. Zampi, 22, of Liverpool, New York for unlawful possession of marijuana and inadequate head lights.
Categories: Law Enforcement

Stop The Falling

Police Magazine - 1 hour 46 min ago

"The way to honor the fallen is to stop the falling." That was the powerful statement made by former Attorney General John Ashcroft prior to his first meeting as the new chair of the board of directors of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF). Ashcroft asserts that a just society must denounce the killing of any law enforcement officer and do its part to prevent such murders. He is entirely correct, but his statement challenges us to consider what can be done to stop the falling of our heroes.

NLEOMF and the DOJ COPS office recently released a valuable law enforcement safety report titled, "Making It Safer: An Analysis Of U.S. Law Enforcement Fatalities Between (2010 - 2016). According to NLEOMF researchers, "…the report contains a data-driven analysis of line of duty deaths across an array of circumstances." Essentially, the report sought to identify "patterns and trends" that would yield "recommendations which will reduce future (officer) fatalities."

Interestingly, the report studied the categories of calls for service that resulted in line-of-duty fatalities. "Calls for officers to respond to a complaint of a domestic dispute or domestic-related incident remained the largest group that resulted in an officer fatality." Among the 133 officer fatalities that occurred, 29% were from calls relating to a domestic incident.  The researchers observed that several officers were fatally shot prior to entering the dispatched location. They further observed that in many instances, the responding officer was alone. They concluded that it would be safer to dispatch two officers to domestic incidents. They are obviously correct, but staffing shortages can make this difficult. Clearly, departments can draw upon this research to improve officer tactics, training, and protocols.

Additionally, the report recognized the need to better train dispatchers on how to record and communicate critical information to the responding officer. Relevant data can equate to mental armor and provide a tactical advantage when responding to a domestic call.

However, there was one statement in the report about how volatile a domestic call may become that resonated with me. The researchers observed, "Even in the case of what is considered a routine matter, no one can predict how someone will react when dealing with an intense matter."

The word "predict" is what resonated with me and I don't think we should be too quick to dismiss the prospect of predicting lethal behavior. I recently saw an article about the show "Game of Thrones." The headline read: "Season 8 Deaths Predicted By Complex Algorithm." This means one or more mathematicians were motivated to create a computer-driven formula infused with variables to predict the deaths of fictional characters. This leads me to ask: Why can't we do the same for law enforcement officers responding to domestic disturbance calls?

We've seen the concept of algorithm-driven data used to empower crime mapping and predictive policing effectively.  This has helped large city departments to better anticipate crime hot spots and place patrol assets in target-specific areas.  This isn't psychic clairvoyant policing; rather it's algorithm-driven odds shifting.

We see corporate America utilize algorithm predictive models to anticipate consumer behavior. If they can predict consumer behavior with considerable accuracy, is it outside the realm of possibility that the same could be done for criminal behavior as relates to offenders involved in domestic disputes? The concept of data-driven algorithms was also advanced in the movie "Moneyball" to identify undervalued baseball players and maximize their potential. I think it's time for an officer-safety algorithm to better protect our officers.

In considering an officer-safety algorithm for domestic incident calls, I would recommend that variables associated with non-fatal attacks against officers be used as well. I think by combining the mathematical skills of an actuary with the mind of a criminal behavior expert, a police statistician, as well as the knowledge and experience of police trainers and patrol officers, we could build a computer model that may have predictive officer safety value. I'd rather try to prevent the loss of a law enforcement hero than sit back and second guess why they were injured or killed.

A predictive officer-safety model isn't intended to replace officer tactics and training, but it could provide a lifesaving "heads-up" to stop our nation's heroes from falling.

Jon Adler is the president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association Foundation.

 

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Categories: Law Enforcement

Horseheads Troopers Arrest Montour Falls Woman for DWI

State - NY Police - 1 hour 51 min ago
On June 16, 2018 Horseheads based State Police arrested a Montour Falls woman for Driving While Intoxicated.
Categories: Law Enforcement

City to pay $2M to family of Iowa woman mistakenly killed by officer

Police One - 1 hour 55 min ago

Associated Press

BURLINGTON, Iowa — A city in southeastern Iowa has agreed to pay $2 million to the family of a woman who was mistakenly killed by a police officer.

An attorney for the estate of Autumn Steele announced the dollar figure of the settlement with the city of Burlington on Monday. A federal court was notified this month that the settlement was reached in the wrongful death lawsuit. The deal is still being finalized.

The settlement doesn't include the release of additional video of the incident, which the family sought.

"We certainly hope it gets released," said Dave O'Brien, the lead attorney for the Steele estate. "We think it should be part of the public record. We don't think cities should be allowed to keep stuff confidential because they find it embarrassing."

Officer Jesse Hill fatally shot Steele while responding to a call about a domestic dispute between her and her husband outside of their home in January of 2015.

Hill said he opened fire to protect himself from an attacking family dog. Police released a short segment of body camera video that shows Hill fire his service weapon after a dog is seen jumping and growling. Hill mistakenly shot Steele in the chest and killed her as one of her two young sons was feet away.

O'Brien argued in court last month that the full video gives no indication that Hill had been bitten or injured before he opened fire, as he claimed in his police report. The lawsuit alleged that Hill acted recklessly when he killed Steele and that he tried to cover it up by falsely claiming that he was trying to defend himself from an attacking dog.

Attorneys for the city and Hill did not immediately reply to requests for comment. Hill faced no criminal charges or discipline for the shooting.

The video, and other records associated with the case, are being sought by the Iowa Freedom of Information Council, which filed a request with the federal court to participate in the case. The Associated Press is a member of the council.

Randy Evans, the council's executive director, said many of the filings in the case have been shielded from public scrutiny. A case before the Iowa Public Information Board, filed separately by the family and the Burlington Hawk Eye newspaper, also seeks the release of the video as a public record.

"We believe that the public deserves to be able to see what has occurred and what was being argued by the city and the family," Evans said.


Categories: Law Enforcement

The Will to Keep Going

Police Magazine - 1 hour 55 min ago

The trend of ambushing officers has not seemed to abate (although most of the media's overheated rhetoric has) and the abundance of body and dash cameras has given us an edge on seeing how officers have overcome such assaults. Often these attacks are so sudden and violent the officer's doom seems certain, yet they manage to overcome the bushwhacking…but how?

We often see our heroes ignite that inner fire, that power that lies deep within. Hank Hayes calls it "fighting like a raccoon in a dumpster!" And that is a metaphor that really captures the essence of the spirit we see in officers in these desperate engagements. There is a moment during that initial combat where an officer who is less trained or mentally prepared might panic, yet instead we see an explosive response that signals that training and mindset have kicked in and the fight is in full swing.

Panic is a deadly enemy, and scientists tell us that it is the coming together of three simultaneous mental states: I am alone; I have nowhere to run; I cannot handle this. Even though the officer may be in a crowd, have great cover options, and be trained for other conflicts, the panicked mental state can occur. The certain antidotes for panic are good old fashioned training, a faith in or a sense of mission (you must do this, no one else can), and courage. Teddy Roosevelt tells us, "Courage is not having the strength to go on; it is going on when you don't have the strength." Remember, you are not alone, there is always something else you can try, and you can handle it; panic, in the end, is an illusion that courage dispels.

While we do see panicked officers from time to time, most often we see them fighting back; how effectively they do so is dependent on some variables that need to be addressed, and hopefully all of you reading this will take time to do a self-assessment.

First, what is the officer's situational awareness? Has the officer taken to time to look for additional threats, cover options, threat cues, and environmental hazards? If so, this is a sure sign that our warrior is in "Condition Yellow: broad external awareness." This process creates an anticipatory mindset; the famous "When/Then!" thought process that the great Chuck Remsburg called "preparation not paranoia!" This is a preloading for action which shortens reaction time, and has the mind already analyzing responses; call it a tightening of our "OODA Loop." If the videos of our brothers and sisters fighting for their lives have done anything they should have given us the sense of spontaneous combustion that occurs in these life and death moments; something that for some reason the media, the courts, and too many of our own fail to appreciate. The situation is always preceded by ambiguity, doubt, and fear, and if disbelief is added it can greatly retard our ability to act rapidly and effectively.

Secondly, we see successful officers, even wounded ones, continuing to fight. Too often we teach a sort of "bang bang, you're dead" mindset, stopping action immediately after shooting the trainee in a scenario instead of making the officer fight his or her way out of the event. The vast majority of people shot survive, but not if they just lie there. The old saying "you're not dead till your dead" means exactly that; don't write yourself off just because you are wounded. Win the fight and start self-aid if you don't have anyone around to give you buddy aid. General Hal Moore said, "There's always one more thing you can do to influence any situation in your favor—and after that one more thing, and after that…. The more you do the more opportunities arise." Take this to heart, and always stay in the fight.

Finally, mentally rehearse every video you see, and ask yourself what you would do. The marvelous ability of the human mind to preprogram an event, long before it ever happens, has always been part of the effective warrior's skill. Visualizing yourself winning in all sorts of ambushes inoculates you against panic, preloads you for victory, and shortens your response time, so "just do it!"

OK, OK, I know what you are thinking: "Man, this column is full of sayings and quotes; I already know all of these!" Exactly, my brothers and sisters. Wisdom can often be boiled down to short homilies and sayings, and we begin to take these for granted; but those of you walking the warrior's path should take time to reflect on these gems. Remember the Chinese curse "May you live in interesting times?" We do, and we need all the wisdom we can find to inspire us to persevere; so here's one more quote:

"Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense." —Winston Churchill

Dave Smith is an internationally recognized law enforcement trainer and is the creator of "JD Buck Savage." You can follow Buck on Twitter at @thebucksavage.

 

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Categories: Law Enforcement

Auburn man gets arrested for DWI.

State - NY Police - 1 hour 57 min ago
On June 15, 2018, Troopers out of SP Auburn arrested Barton Copes, 65, of Auburn, New York for driving while intoxicated, operating a motor vehicle with a BAC greater than .08%, drinking alcohol in a motor vehicle on a highway and inadequate head lights.
Categories: Law Enforcement

Victor man gets arrested for UPM.

State - NY Police - 2 hours 2 min ago
On June 15, 2018, Troopers out of SP Williamson arrested Ercolino Ferri, 39, of Victor, New York for unlawful possession of marijuana and inadequate head lights.
Categories: Law Enforcement

How To Get a Job in Law Enforcement

Police Magazine - 2 hours 13 min ago

During the Great Recession, law enforcement agencies across the country slashed their budgets. This led to slower hiring and fewer officers, police academy closures, and cutbacks in salaries and benefits. But the economy is better now, and funding for law enforcement is rapidly being restored.

This is good news for those individuals hoping to enter policing for the first time, and for veteran officers seeking to move to a new agency.

"Some agencies have been quicker than others to restore funding. But, as agencies have restored funding, they have been able to start hiring again," states Michael Parker of The Parker Group, a consulting agency devoted to communications recruitment and management. "For quality applicants this is a good thing because they have more, and better, choices for where they want to work. They have excellent opportunities to get hired by a police agency."

However, the retired police commander for the Los Angeles County (CA) Sheriff's Department (LASD), who headed the agency's Personnel and Training Command as his last assignment, says even in this climate officers must have what it takes to land a job. Parker shared his insights on what agencies look for as they recruit and hire peace officers, and what potential policing applicants can do to adequately prepare.

To Degree or Not To Degree

A peace officer's job is to protect lives and property. While this in and of itself may not necessitate a college degree, agencies have found some benefits to having degreed police officers.

William Terrill, a Michigan State University criminologist and co-author of a study on police attitudes, reported in 2015 that college-educated officers are less likely to use force on citizens, and tend to have better communication and problem-solving skills.

Though it's a mixed bag out there as to whether a given agency requires a degree from a technical college or a four-year institution, Parker says having a degree can open more doors for advancement and initial placement within a police department. Even if an applicant never completed a degree, credit hours in police science may present them with a leg up on the competition.

"Candidates need to look at the regional requirements, and actually contact agencies in the areas they would like to work," Parker says. "There is a lot of variation in requirements across the country. In California, very few agencies require a college degree. However, even without that requirement more than 50% of the applicants starting in the sheriff's academy already have at least an associate's degree."

Having a high school degree and a clean criminal record is the bare minimum. More training sets an applicant apart from the pack, Parker adds. "An associate degree, bachelor's degree, or master's degree is desirable because it tells us that you had to apply yourself in a learning environment beyond high school," he says. "You had to be self-motivated and do more than the minimum."

Work Experience

Life experiences also count for a lot, adds Parker, especially work experience.

"If you've never had a job, and the first job you are applying for is to become a peace officer, most agencies will not look favorably upon that," he says. "Work experience is a very big deal because it tells us that you were in an environment where people told you 'no,' told you what to do, and whether you liked it or not, you had to do it to keep your job."

In addition, agencies can use your work experience to check into your work ethic. "They can find out if you can get along with people and problem solve, or if you show up on time, dress properly, and so on," he says.

Parker points out that though experience in security or loss prevention is viewed positively, it is not essential. If an applicant worked as a waiter to put himself through college, that would be a positive too. However, agencies might not look favorably upon work as a stripper or a bouncer in a strip club.

Prior military experience, if you were honorably discharged and had a good military record, is a definite plus, adds Parker.

"But, you don't have to go into the military to get hired. In the '60s, it would be rare for a peace officer to get hired without military experience, but nowadays it's not required," he says.

However, some agencies, such as those in Boston, will give candidates extra points on their examination for prior military experience. In addition, all things being equal between two candidates, the one with prior military experience will get the job over the one without, according to Parker.

Get Physical

Every state has a Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) office. This organization lists the requirements for officers working in that state. One of the requirements these organizations typically place front and center is the physical mandates for officers. "You will need to have the physical capabilities to pass the state-mandated test," Parker says, noting students get points for the number of pushups, pullups, sit-ups, squat thrusts, wind sprints, and the distance they can run.

He recommends getting fit before entering the police academy. "You'd be surprised how many people think they'll get into shape in the academy," he says. "That's a big mistake. You will need to be in good physical condition when you arrive because if you cannot fulfill the physical mandates of that state while you are there, you are done."

Parker points out most agencies provide pre-academy workout opportunities for potential applicants. "If they are in the application process, applicants are invited to come in and do workouts with the academy staff," he says. "You're not working out with the actual academy recruits, but in a separate group."

Parker states law enforcement executives have told him that with high schools reducing their fitness requirements, unless an applicant has been in team sports or other physical activities, they often do not know how to perform basic physical maneuvers. Because of this, many agencies are posting videos online that show various physical fitness skills, such as how to properly do academy sit-ups and pullups. He encourages applicants to search for these videos as they prepare physically.

Shoot, Don't Shoot

"People often feel like they have to go out and become an expert marksman before they join the police academy," says Parker. "But most agencies prefer that you are not. They would rather teach you the right way to shoot, rather than try to undo bad habits you may have picked up."

But, he cautions, some firearms experience is worthwhile.

"It's a good idea to have fired a gun a few times to make sure it's something you are comfortable doing," he says.

Other Considerations   

There are some things that will eliminate your consideration entirely, and Parker says it's important that potential applicants know what they are to save themselves headaches down the road.

  • Register for selective service. Almost all males living in the United States, between the ages of 18 and 25, are required to register with the Selective Service System. Failure to register will eliminate a candidate from consideration. "For many agencies this is viewed as a lack of loyalty to the United States," he says. "By nature of the police profession, your job is to ensure that the laws are abided by, people are protected, and to uphold the Constitution." In most cases, individuals register for selective service when they apply for a student loan or for college. But, Parker adds this registration must occur before age 25. After that you've missed your opportunity.
  • Do not use marijuana. In some states, such as Colorado, marijuana use has been legalized. However, if you want to be a police officer, Parker cautions against its use, even in those states. "When asked about drug use, many applicants will reply they used marijuana the week before. They are not going to get hired," he says. "Marijuana use is still against federal law. While several states have legalized it, it's still a crime. So, even if an applicant sees smoking marijuana as the equivalent of drinking a beer, no police agency will see it that way. One-hundred percent of agencies state that recent use will disqualify an applicant." Some agencies have set a two-year minimum, meaning you cannot have smoked marijuana for at least two years.
  • Have good credit. "Credit is a huge issue, much bigger than it was 30 years ago," he says. Thirty years ago, an 18-year-old could not get a $10,000 loan with a part-time job. That is no longer the case. Banking standards have been changed and lowered, meaning young people can get loans for cars, boats, jet skis, and more. "It's not unusual to see a 25-year-old applicant that is $50,000 in debt and has declared bankruptcy once," he says. "Police agencies are not going to look favorably on this. In this profession, you are going to be put in a position where you're in people's homes, in warehouses, near narcotics and large sums of money. Police agencies do not want to hire someone who is already in financial stress and has shown difficulty in managing their money, because the temptation for wrongdoing would be there. This sets up the individual and the agency for failure."

Potential candidates need good credit and a low debt load. One exception is student loans. If a candidate took loans to get through college, that is viewed differently. "But if you have $50,000 in debt because you are driving a car beyond your means, have a nice motorcycle too, and are living with your parents, no one is going to be impressed with your money managing skills," he says.

Talk to Me

A good police officer needs to know how to communicate well. He or she must be able to talk to people who are under duress, interview them to get the necessary information, and later write a legible report about each call.

Parker states it behooves young people considering policing to work on these skills. Many young people, he says, are so used to social media and texting that they abbreviate everything and do not speak in full sentences. That is not sufficient to write a police report or to interview a suspect or a witness.

"Sacramento County Sheriff's Department has created a training class to teach new deputies and officers how to communicate with people. This is an acknowledgement that society has changed. People are so used to using technology, not writing or speaking in full sentences, that it needs to be taught," he says. "This is something an applicant would be well served to work on. Holding a job helps develop these skills, as does volunteer work, and even taking a Toastmasters class," he says.

Do Your Homework

Just as people differ from one to another, so do agencies. Parker encourages applicants to consider where they want to work and then research the agencies within those areas. How much do they pay officers? What benefits do they offer? What are their schedules like? What is the philosophy of the agency? How does its leadership operate?

"Today it is much easier to get information and get a feel for how an agency operates," he says. "There is a lot of information on social media to help candidates make a decision about a specific agency."

Referrals from others in the agency is also a good way to gather this information. Ask officers you trust how they view their agency. "They can tell you a lot about what the agency is like, what the job is like, the requirements of the academy, and more," he says.

Is Policing For You?

Finally, Parker says candidates need to do some self-reflection before they apply anywhere. He says they need to ask themselves honestly if policing is for them.

"They need to reflect on why they want to do this. Is it because they want to help people and make a difference or are there other reasons? Are they committed to this cause?" he asks. "If making a difference and helping people in policing was easy, everybody would be doing it. Policing isn't easy. People are under distress. Policing provides a great opportunity to help people in a great degree of need. But it's also very difficult because you are in danger, both physically and emotionally. You really need to look inward to see if this is for you."

Ronnie Garrett is a freelance writer who has been writing about policing for more than two decades. She lives in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.

 

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