Why Become A Police Officer?
When a person thinks about becoming a police officer, one would have to wonder why? There has to be easier jobs in the world then being a police officer, and putting your life on the line every day.
If you think about it, every time a police officer puts on their body armor and gun, it is a reminder to them that they may not come home that night.
So what motivates people to do it? One would think, helping people and making a difference in their community, and protecting those who can not protect themselves would have a lot to do with it.
A lot of people may think it is a quest for power and money, but once you get a taste of what police work is like, that will not keep you doing it.
Now if you are going to be a police officer in the state of New Jersey, depending on what city you work in, your salary can vary. However the average salary for a rookie police officer is about $31,000. Now if you work in Newark, then average salary is $62,000. Now besides the average salary, police officers will have a lot of overtime, because of the nature of the job. For instance, an officer works graveyard shift, and the next day he has court. He will get paid for his shift and make overtime for court.
There are certain requirements that all potential candidates must meed in order to be a police officer in New Jersey. First of all you must be a US citizen, you can not have any criminal convictions, you must be 18 years old or older and under the age of 35, and have a high school diploma or GED. Now if you are trying to become a State Trooper, then you must be 21 years old and have a bachelors degree or associates degree.
Examinations, Tests and Background
Now if you meet the minimum requirements listed above, then you can expect to go through a series of tests and evaluations. These are what separates those who get picked to go to the academy and become a police officer and those that do not. Of course as you can imagine you will have to take a written examination and pass that test. All candidates will also have to take a physical fitness test, which includes, running, push-ups, and sit-ups. Most applicants if they make it that far, will have to go through and extensive background check, including fingerprints and criminal history checks. If you make it through that part, you can also expect at some point a drug screening, because no police department can afford to have a drug abuser on their force.
Candidates can also expect that they will go through a medical examination, and a psychological evaluation as well. Now if you make it that far, then you can look forward to a in person interview. If you pass all of those steps, then you may be hired pending completion of the police academy.
Length of the police academy and cost
In the state of New Jersey, if you are hired by a police department, and the police department does not pay for you to go to their academy, then the normal cost for the applicant is about $2500. Now when you enter into the academy you can also expect to be in the academy for about 21 weeks. The reason you are in there so long, is because there is a lot that you have to be taught, before you are ready to become a police officer, and we will highlight some of them for you next.
New Jersey Police Academy Life
Now as a candidate enters the police academy, there is a strong possibility that they may not be prepared for what they are about to encounter. Now one of the toughest parts of the academy for a lot of recruits is the physical training aspect. You can expect to do a lot of exercises each and every day, including running. The reason that the academy values physical fitness is because this job requires officers to be physically strong and mentally strong. In some cases officers may have to do foot pursuits or people and may have to fight people who resist arrest, so physical training is crucial.
Now another area of training that is crucial to survival is tactical training. That deals more with areas like frisking a suspect in the right way, handcuffing in the proper technique, because not everyone is going to comply with your requests, and gun retention. Gun retention is important, not just to the life of the officer, but other people as well. Once a officer shows up, if he allows the suspect to get his gun, now you have armed the suspect and put everyone at risk. Gun retention is something that most academies hammer on.
Now just as important as tactical training is firearms training. Everyone that comes in the academy is not used to handling a firearm, so the academy wants to make sure that you are comfortable with your weapon and that you can shoot well. Now besides shooting well, you also have to know when to shoot and when not to shoot.
Another key element of training in the academy is high speed pursuit driving. Most people know how to drive when they enter a police academy, however driving at high speeds is not something everyone is comfortable with, and that can be very damaging to a police department if a officer makes bad choices.
Now another key element is that officers need to be taught the criminal and traffic codes. Police officers have to be taught the law and traffic laws because otherwise a rookie officer would not know what charges to charge criminals with. There is more training that recruits will go through but these are just some of the important things a recruit will be taught.
Life After Graduation
Now after a police recruit graduates the police academy, you would think that the hard part is over, but that is hardly the case. Once a police officer gets to his police department then there will be more training. As a new officer you can expect to get a field training officer to help you get used to working at the department, and you will spend a lot of time reading policy and procedures for the specific department. However you can rest assured that you have made it into a very select fraternity.