Friday, August 31, 2012

You Want to Become a Cop? Job Prospects Look Good.

Outlook for Police Jobs Should Improve:

Criminal Justice Students Await Their Chance 

By: Joseph Giacalone

There are thousands of young men and women enrolled in Criminal Justice Programs all across the United States in the hopes of joining the ranks of the nation's finest. Job prospects in the field of policing look promising, but like many professions, face certain financial, political and public scrutiny.

In the early 1990s, President Bill Clinton, signed into law the Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act which provided funding for 100,000 new police officers. New York City used that money in a program entitled, "Safe Streets, Safe City" and hired thousands of new officers - I was fortunate enough to be one of them. Well, if you looked at your calendar, that was over twenty years ago, the career expectancy of most police officers. A tough job market and less police officers make for a terrible cocktail reminiscent of the "bad ole days."

The economy is still tough and the future is not looking to good either for the job market. Bad economies generally bring about more crime, just like the warm weather. However, there is a silver lining in this dark cloud: municipalities will have to find the money to hire new police officers soon. No mayor wants to be known as the person that let crime slip out of control again, nor do they want to give back all that was gained over the last fifteen years of crime reduction. Low crime equals more tax revenue, simple economics.

Job prospects in the field of policing are looking good with several major departments giving examinations. There is a link to my interview with the Criminal Justice Schools Blog at the end of this article on what it takes to be a police officer in this day and age. I provided my insight from over 20 years of law enforcement experience and what are some of the missteps to avoid when fulfilling your lifelong dream.

The pay is not bad, but you are never going to get rich working as a police officer, but that is not why you choose to do "The Job." It is a worthwhile and noble profession. Very few careers offer you the satisfaction of helping others and your community as well. However, because of the bad economy, many municipalities are scaling back the benefits, pensions, health care, etc., once paid to safety workers - that's the bad news. Local governments are shortsighted on this and is driven by public outrage. The economy will not be terrible forever, at least I hope not. When it finally does turn around, many top prospects will shun police jobs and other public sectors for greener pastures in the private sector - and I mean greener. The good economic times far outlast the bad, which will hurt recruitment in the future.

Contrarians will say that those police officers hired under Safe Streets will not retire after twenty years because of the poor job market. This would be true under normal conditions, however, we are not living under normal conditions. In a recent USA Today article, it claims that States have been holding onto their money, instead of hiring. That may be true, but many police officers are faced with the risk that if they stay too long, benefits maybe taken away from them. So it is better to get out when the getting is good. This mentality is another unintended consequence of "pension reform talk." Municipalities will be forced to hire police officers are face the public's wrath if crime goes out of control.

In order to be considered for any job, especially a civil service job like police officer, you must take the test! Saying that you will do it, or next week, is not going to get you hired and fulfill your dreams. So start searching for what municipalities are offering an exam and take as many as you can. This way you can choose which one you want more.

Remember, the main goal of anyone seeking a job in the law enforcement profession is to stay out of trouble.

Watch the complete video on Criminal Justice Programs

Do you have any questions about a police career? Send me an E-Mail.

About the Author

Joseph Giacalone is a retired Detective Sergeant and former Commanding Officer of the Bronx Cold Case Squad. He is an Adjunct Professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the author of The Criminal Investigative Function: A Guide for New Investigators published by Looseleaf Law, Inc.

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