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  #1  
Old 11-29-2012, 12:20 AM
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Default Should I become an LEO?

I have a pretty good job/career in banking but its not something I'm truly excited about. I'm interest in law enforcement because I feel there would be more excitement. What am I in for? I live north of San Fran and was thinking about CHP or SFPD. About me: no college degree, 33 years old, married no kids. Thoughts, critiques, what have you?
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Old 11-29-2012, 12:57 AM
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Why would you want to do that? I guess if you want to be overpaid and over- benefitted for a relatively cush/non-dangerous/not very important job, go for it... :rolling my eyes at the ignorant sheep:

Seriously though, if you're sincere, find out as much as you can about the job (including going on as many ridealongs with different LEOs, different agencies, different shifts, different areas, etc as you can), make sure that this (all the positives and negatives) is what you really want to do, and then start applying... If "excitement" is what you're looking for and you already have a good job, also consider being a reserve officer/deputy...
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Old 11-29-2012, 1:28 AM
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This career change is something that if you have not already talked over with your wife in some detail, you need to do so. The hours, the non traditional days off, the holidays and birthdays missed. If you have kids, the events you won't be at, etc. More importantly, the fact that she needs to be aware the possibility exists that you may be seriously injured or not come home again.

Tho the latter can happen on any job and there are more dangerous jobs (for those of you tempted to post it is not even in the top 10 most dangerous; don't bother in this forum).

If she isn't accepting of this, your marriage will be affected and even if she is, it will still be affected to a degree due to the reasons I listed.

Something to think about.
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Old 11-29-2012, 9:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rocksteady1 View Post
I have a pretty good job/career in banking but its not something I'm truly excited about. I'm interest in law enforcement because I feel there would be more excitement. What am I in for? I live north of San Fran and was thinking about CHP or SFPD. About me: no college degree, 33 years old, married no kids. Thoughts, critiques, what have you?
Rocksteady,
I will relate you my current situation because my career is very similar. I currently work for a company making a little over 100k per year, indoors, not very stressful, and also without a college degree( gen ed done, but need two more years for a BS or BA). About 6 months ago I thought long and hard about it and decided to make the change (I had been contemplating it for a few years). I applied to the city and county because both are holding paid academies. And as of yesterday i signed a conditional job offer with one of them and I start the academy in January.

I am happy with the decision I made. Even though I will take a paycut, I knew from the first ride along I went on that it was the career for me. I would rather make less money doing something that is challenging, rewarding, and exciting than the current office job I have.

I will say that this particular forum has a lot of great members that can help you with questions/advice. I have to publicly thank the member Retired because he helped me numerous times through PM's. He has served many years and gave me a good perspective on what to expect in the application process. Good luck
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  #5  
Old 11-29-2012, 9:41 AM
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I guess this is what it's about doing something exciting. Getting out of the groove. Monotony, the little death and all that. I'm just interested in people's stories. Why they did it. Where they came from. Thank you.
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Old 11-29-2012, 10:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rocksteady1 View Post
I have a pretty good job/career in banking but its not something I'm truly excited about. I'm interest in law enforcement because I feel there would be more excitement. What am I in for? I live north of San Fran and was thinking about CHP or SFPD. About me: no college degree, 33 years old, married no kids. Thoughts, critiques, what have you?
IMO, the value of an LEO job is similar to the three criteria used for real estate - location, location and location. If you work for a local PD or SO, you know where you will be living, you and your wife's circle of friends and the quality of schools fors the kids. With the CHP or a Federal agency, you have little choice of job location at the entry level and promotions invariably involve a transfer to some far away place.

BTW. SFPD just announced openings. Don't know if they are for lateral transfers or entry level positions. As the economy improves I think more departments will be hiring again.
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  #7  
Old 11-29-2012, 10:37 AM
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You asked for an opinion, so here's mine:

Becoming a cop is not something one thinks hap-hazardly of "gee, should I become a cop???? I just don't know????? Hmmmmm." Most cops I know have had a passion and prepared most of their young lives to eventually become a cop. They've had a mind set to become one and have driven their passions further by preparing for some time before applying and testing for the job.

For example, when I was in high school, my buddy and I just dreamed about being a cop. After high school and four years of college, that dream continued and we did everything to prepare for the job and life style. We were ready "mentally."

At age 33, many have become cops. But I've seen many middle aged or "30 something" people drop what their doing in life, only to fail at becoming a cop. Their "head" just wasn't in the right mind set. It's NOT a job or life style like working at a bank, 7-11, sales, or anything else.

It's not a game buddy. If your looking for "excitement," I recommend you stay in your current career and choose some type of exiting hobby instead.

Just my opinion, which isn't worth much.

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Originally Posted by cruising7388
As the economy improves I think more departments will be hiring again.
Sorry, but that's not going to happen for a long time. Look at the fiscal projection for 2013. The economy is getting worse. Cali taxes are rising, Fed taxes are rising.... We're screwed. I know, "doom and gloom" here, but one can see it as fact. Didn't Oakland PD not fill like 34 police officer positions recently? San Bernardino city is going bankrupt and they haven't paid into CalPERS for a while.........

Surrrrrrre, the economy is improving. Police departments will always hire here and there, but it's not going to be like it was in the 90's. No more mass hiring.
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Old 11-29-2012, 1:04 PM
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The academy tends to weed out the "lets give this a shot" crowd pretty quickly.
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  #9  
Old 11-29-2012, 7:10 PM
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I live by this dictum:

If you have to ask, don't do it!
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  #10  
Old 11-29-2012, 7:32 PM
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Default One foot in, One foot out

So my dad was an officer in the 60's and 70's. The first time my Father took me for a ride around the block in his patrol car, at 6 years old, I was hooked! My career track was such that it didn't make sense for me to become a full time cop. But I always wanted to be a Police Officer. Always.

Fast forward: At 35 years old, I had put myself through the Academy, applied simultaneously at two places and luckily on the same week received offers from both, selected one and have been there for 17 years. As a part time Police Officer (Reserve) I get to do a lot of things and I don't get burned out because I only have to work once a month, but currently I'm working once to twice a week (I can work as little or as much as I want).

When I work I have fun, more fun then I can explain in writing, that's the good. The bad is most Officers are full time and this job tends to make damaged goods out of about 80% of those that stay in 20+ years. It's that kind of job, you see so much, you sacrifice so much, you have some many opportunities good and bad, that it takes a special person to do the job and come out the other end whole. This job destroyed my Father, it was just too much for him, he was bigger, wiser and more mature than I and it bit him. Since I only work part-time, it seems I have none of the ill affects and all of the benefits, if you will. If you become a Reserve Officers and you get to keep your current job, check out the career and can always lateral to full time if you find it fits you and your life style.

Consider putting yourself through the Academy and becoming Reserve Officer, most jurisdiction have such a program, sans the CHP. It's rewarding, easy on the body and soul, and you'll have more fun then the full time officers by a country mile.

Hope this helps,

Triple

Last edited by TripleThreat; 11-29-2012 at 8:35 PM..
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  #11  
Old 11-29-2012, 7:58 PM
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My son in law was in banking/mortgage industry, but was always interested in LE. With two of his best friends, his brother, and his father in law entrenched in LE, he had a good idea of what he was getting into. He was making more money before the economy tanked, but always had an interest. His area of the industry tanked about a year before everyone else, and he was able to get hired relatively soon. He has been a police officer almost five years now, and loves what he is doing.
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  #12  
Old 11-29-2012, 8:29 PM
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I will share a little of my background with you, I am not a police officer but I am in law enforcement. I began looking into law enforcement when I was in my late teens. I began working full time when I was 19 years old. By the time I was 20 I began to apply for a couple different agencies. I applied for a park ranger position and was told to No, i assumed it was due to my age at the time. I applied for a sheriff trainee position and a probation position. The probation position was the first to call and start the process. I understood probation work and that it differed from patrol but all I wanted was to get a foot in the door and figure out where I wanted to go from there. Well I got hired with probation at the age of 20 and started the academy a few days after my 21st birthday. I am now going on 5 years with the department. It has been a rollercoaster. Things have been up and down due to the budget. We experienced layoffs and demotions. At first I promoted rather quickly but was soon demoted due to the economy, it frustrated me and to this day I am still in the position that I was demoted to. What gets me through the different challenges of the job is my passion for the work I do. I am in corrections and I have to say with all the ups and downs I still love what I do. The pay cut from the demotion was pretty significant and it has caused some hardships but it will get better one day. I am now 25 years old and I am not focusing on the now but the future, my plans are to promote back to my old position and eventually get out into the field working a gang unit or some other specialized unit that is offered. With my department this is a very competitive route but it is what I want to do. The reason I am saying all of this is to show you that it is not just a career change, it's a life change. For me this is a passion and it is all I ever want to do. I have invested a lot as others have and I cannot imagine doing anything else. I'm sorry if I sound preachy but I felt I had to share my experience with you. Make sure it is your passion and that when the chips are down (they will be) that your passion and drive for the job is what gets you through. Most work all holidays, new years eve and so on, if you plan on having kids there will be times when you have to leave your wife home alone all night or on holidays so you can go work out in the streets or sit in a jail. I work graveyards and the hardest thing is leaving my wife and 6 month old baby home alone all night 5 days a week. I am lucky to have such an understanding, loving and strong wife that puts up with the shift and stress. I hope this helps in some way, i just felt i had to share this with you. Good luck.
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Old 11-29-2012, 8:50 PM
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I would keep the job you have now, and go reserve to see if you "like it" before leaving a good job.
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Old 11-29-2012, 10:02 PM
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So you work 9-5 with weekends and holidays off and make good money and married.

You want to give that up for unknown work schedule, overtime, working weekends and holidays making low wage and on top of that getting into fights, shot at etc....and you'll have a higher rate of divorce as well.

But at the end of the day you should do what makes you happy.
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Old 11-29-2012, 10:12 PM
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Rocksteadt 1 With all respect if you have to ask a question like that on an Internet forum the answer is not only NO, but hell No. I spent 27 years on the job, which it's not it's a life commitment.
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Old 11-29-2012, 10:15 PM
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Which departments in Bay Area would anyone recommend for the reserve program? Do you get paid to be reserve? I'd like to try it out. It makes sense to try it first. I appreciate everyone's opinion on here. Thank you.
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Old 11-29-2012, 10:38 PM
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Most every Police Dept. has a Reserve devision. some get paid, I think Los Gatos PD is one of them. Some give you a lot of flexibility on what you can do, such as the Santa Clara Sheriff's office (S.O.) and let go solo all the time. Some allow you to work pay-jobs which is where the real money is at, but many are pure volunteer positions. Some departments treat their Reserve's like dog ****, so be careful. Do a ride-a-long where you're interested and talk to those Reserves' they'll tell you what's up. Some give their Reserves CCW's and some don't. Some departments make you work with a regular officer each and every time, so lot's to consider.

Reserves don't work for the money, but for experience and the love of the job, forget the money part for now and find a department that treats their Reserves good and provides top notch training. Personally, I like how the S.O. treats their Reserves' it's one of the best programs that I know of and you get to work in the entire County and not you're not stuck in some tiny area. Personally, I say avoid small jurisdictions at all cost.

But first you must complete the Academy prior to applying, so after that hurdle, which could take up to a year, you'll be able to talk to lots of folks and find out what and where is the best fit for you. The good news is, once you have your P.O.S.T Certificate (Police Officers Standards & Training), you can lateral over full time and not have to go to the Academy again.

PM if you have any more specific questions.

Good luck,

Triple

Last edited by TripleThreat; 11-29-2012 at 10:45 PM..
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Old 11-29-2012, 11:40 PM
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I had a some what different approach to the job. I was in my early twenties and having second thoughts about my chosen career path (aviation oriented). A local agency was running a add on the radio, looking for entry level applicants. I didn't really know any officers, never took any AJ classes, no ridealongs, and will be the first to admit I didn't really have a clue what I was getting into.

But I thought "what the hell" and applied. Standing outside city hall waiting for the first written to start I started to talk to some of the other guys waiting to test. A lot of them were AJ majors or had some other type of LE background and I began to think "I don't have a snowball's chance in hell" at this job. The city was running a pretty quick testing process and had the results posted in the afternoon. The AJ guys I had talked to flunked, I passed.

In the end I scored well and was hired.

When I saw this could work out I got pretty excited. I gave it 100% and made it through the academy, FTO, and probation with no real problems.

38 years and two agencies later I retired. I have no regrets, it was a great adventure. I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

If you decide it's for you, you must give it your all, nothing half assed. Your family must be supportive as they will have to deal with the working conditions almost as much as you.
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Old 11-30-2012, 6:03 AM
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OP,

Lots of good information here, coming from officers with a lot of experience. Good luck with whatever you decide.

Triple
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Old 11-30-2012, 6:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TrailerparkTrash View Post
Sorry, but that's not going to happen for a long time. Look at the fiscal projection for 2013. The economy is getting worse. Cali taxes are rising, Fed taxes are rising.... We're screwed. I know, "doom and gloom" here, but one can see it as fact. Didn't Oakland PD not fill like 34 police officer positions recently? San Bernardino city is going bankrupt and they haven't paid into CalPERS for a while.........

Surrrrrrre, the economy is improving. Police departments will always hire here and there, but it's not going to be like it was in the 90's. No more mass hiring.
This. Unless you have a burning passion for it, don't move into a job market where there are no jobs and plenty of experienced people waiting in he wings.
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Old 12-01-2012, 2:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Rocksteady1 View Post
Which departments in Bay Area would anyone recommend for the reserve program? Do you get paid to be reserve? I'd like to try it out. It makes sense to try it first. I appreciate everyone's opinion on here. Thank you.
Palo Alto has a paid reserve program.
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Old 12-02-2012, 12:27 AM
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I respectfully disagree with the thing about comparing a reserve to a full time "regular" officer/deputy. It's NOT the same thing. A book can be written on the differences between the two, but it's too long to mention here. Also, many reserves tend to get offended when a regular happens to mention that fact in a civil manner.

Again, it's not the same thing. Being a cop day in and day out full time is a life commitment as someone else already pointed out. I come from a family (immediate family) of both full time and reserve cops. There is a total difference between the two classes.

Nothing wrong with the reserve route, but it never has been, nor never will be a "full time" life of a cop. A reserve can never understand that the ups and downs of being a cop on duty 40+ hours per week for 10, 20, 30+ years etc.... really puts a damper on ones "soul" (for lack of better words). So, to the OP, my point is just remember that the two positions might wear the same uniform, but it's not the same thing. Again, a book can be written about explaining the difference and this format isn't long enough.
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Old 12-02-2012, 7:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TrailerparkTrash View Post
I respectfully disagree with the thing about comparing a reserve to a full time "regular" officer/deputy. It's NOT the same thing.
I pretty much tried to convey that message with most of the post I've written here. But I can't help but think that having a Father that was full time for many, paired with being a Reserve Officer for over 17 years myself, gives me "some" insight to what it must being a full time officer.

I've working as a Reserve 5 days this week alone, one of my assignments is considered the most violent (busy, pain the as is a better choice) assignments in our City; currently working there twice a week until who knows when. I feel I can stretch and imagine what it could be like to be a full time officer and admittedly partly because of that, I'm glad I'm not.

I'll add this: About 10 year ago, I had went on patrol twice in one week, both of those days I had handled a dead body call, both bodies were in the restrooms of businesses that were open and had lots of customers coming and going during my investigation. I was glad I didn't have to come back the next day, very glad.

Triple

Last edited by TripleThreat; 12-02-2012 at 11:22 AM..
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Old 12-02-2012, 7:38 AM
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Its a job
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Old 12-02-2012, 9:52 AM
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Here is what your LE career would be like:

30% Paperwork
30% Responding to "routine" calls for service (nothing is really routine)
20% Trying to catch bad guys
5% Actually taking a bad guy to jail
5% Doing the plethora of paperwork just to book the bad guy
5% Going to Court
2% Laughs over a cup of coffee with your partners
2% Miscellaneous stuff
1% sheer terror

Enjoy


All things considered, I have had a good time. You need to have good common sense, thick skin, a good sense of humor, and calmness when Pooh hits the fan. LEO's, especially in busy areas see a LOT of horrible things. They also see a lot of funny things. Although there are some people out there who show their appreciation for the what we do, don't expect to see that appreciation, except on rare occasions. What keeps you going, is the fact you know you are doing the right thing and simply by doing your job, you are making the streets safe enough so people can sleep comfortably in their beds and so they can live their life. There will be let-downs and disappointments in your career, but also real highs.

Although most of your time will be taken doing a lot of "routine" stuff and dealing with thugs, there will be times when you are able to do something extraordinary that will have a positive impact on someone's life. It only takes ONE time to save a life to realize that if it weren't for you, that person would have died. For me, it was doing CPR on a drowned toddler who survived and is now living a normal life. When the call was being dispatched, other units were over 4 minutes away. I was 1 minute away. I did CPR for 2-3 minutes before paramedics arrived. That made my career. Scenarios like that are rare for LEO's.

One of the most important things; Realize that NOTHING is routine. I know I threw that word around a bit, but anything can happen and it sometimes will.
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Old 12-02-2012, 10:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TrailerparkTrash View Post
I respectfully disagree with the thing about comparing a reserve to a full time "regular" officer/deputy. It's NOT the same thing. A book can be written on the differences between the two, but it's too long to mention here. Also, many reserves tend to get offended when a regular happens to mention that fact in a civil manner.

Again, it's not the same thing. Being a cop day in and day out full time is a life commitment as someone else already pointed out. I come from a family (immediate family) of both full time and reserve cops. There is a total difference between the two classes.

Nothing wrong with the reserve route, but it never has been, nor never will be a "full time" life of a cop. A reserve can never understand that the ups and downs of being a cop on duty 40+ hours per week for 10, 20, 30+ years etc.... really puts a damper on ones "soul" (for lack of better words). So, to the OP, my point is just remember that the two positions might wear the same uniform, but it's not the same thing. Again, a book can be written about explaining the difference and this format isn't long enough.
On LASD, reserves are appreciated. I respect them for volunteering their time to the cause. But I have to agree with the above comments. Reserves do not get nearly the training we do. On LASD, reserves are generally sheltered. The dispatchers are careful not to give them many calls and they are not dispatched to handle high risk calls. However, reserves are allowed to roll to our high risk calls to help out.

I know a couple of reserves that can handle quite a bit and have good heads on their shoulders. But most reserves have NO business working patrol. I have seen them do some pretty scary stuff.
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Old 12-02-2012, 10:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TripleThreat View Post
I pretty much tried to convey that message with most of the post I've written here. But I can't help but think that having a Father that was full time for many, paired with being a Reserve Officer for over 17 years myself, gives me "some" insight to what it must being a full time officer.

I've working as a Reserve 5 days this week alone, one of my assignments is consider the most violent assignment in our City; currently working there twice a week until who knows when. I think I can stretch and imagine what it could be like to be a full time officer locally and admitted partly because of that, I'm glad I'm not.

I'll add this: About 10 year ago, I had went on patrol twice in one week, both of those days I had handled a dead body call, both bodies were in the restrooms of businesses that were open and had lots of customers coming and going during my investigation. I was glad I didn't have to come back the next day, very glad.

Triple
Wow....5 days a week? How do you find time to do your regular job? Also, I would like to know which department allows a reserve to handle a "dead body" call. Reserves do not get the training and education necessary to handle such a thing. Although I could see you assisting another officer with a dead body call.
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Old 12-02-2012, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Armed24-7 View Post
Wow....5 days a week? How do you find time to do your regular job?
Don't recall saying I had a regular job? I retired 3 years ago this February, from my regular job. Just got another call this morning, I'm working 6 days this week. But the pay job rate is great, so I'm not complaining.

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Originally Posted by Armed24-7 View Post
Also, I would like to know which department allows a reserve to handle a "dead body" call. Reserves do not get the training and education necessary to handle such a thing. Although I could see you assisting another officer with a dead body call.
I can't speak for your department, I can tell you our department is vastly different form the examples you've given, we are trained to the level of a solo beat officers (that's just the culture of our Department) and we handle all the calls in our beat, there are no different patrols or beats for Reserves Officers, and as such, we are expected to perform as regulars while on duty or at least be able to figure out we needs to done, and if in doubt we can alway ask another Officer. At our Department we have the same training as the Regulars, plus we do our own in-house training that is specific to the Reserves. Seems there are varying differences between Reserve programs. As far as the dead bodies, they weren't murders, just bodies (both overdoses), but had it been a murder, I would taken the initial report and then the Homicide Unit would take it from there. It's really no different than any other report.

Worth noting, in no shape or form do I think I am as qualified or knowledgeable as most of our regulars Officers, I've been handling solo beats for 17 years and have yet have an issue as it relates to being a Reserve of being under trained. Each time I go out I learn something new. I try to use a level head, I have lots of examples to follow in my reports logs and I continue to enjoy learning (sharping the sword) .

Triple

Last edited by TripleThreat; 01-03-2013 at 6:07 PM..
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Old 12-02-2012, 2:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Rocksteady1 View Post
I have a pretty good job/career in banking but its not something I'm truly excited about. I'm interest in law enforcement because I feel there would be more excitement. What am I in for? I live north of San Fran and was thinking about CHP or SFPD. About me: no college degree, 33 years old, married no kids. Thoughts, critiques, what have you?
I think the people you should be asking this question are,
1 you- do you like working graveyard, weekends and holidays.
2 your wife- is she good with the above.
3 your family and friends- should have a gauge on whether your aptitude, sand in you craw and descision making abilities are.
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Old 12-02-2012, 7:57 PM
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If you really want to be a cop, you wouldn't ask this question. You would go ahead and do whatever it takes. Police work is very hard work and isn't something you wake up the next day and decide to do.
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Old 12-02-2012, 8:03 PM
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Try a ridealong that's a good way to get a flavor of the day to day
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Old 12-03-2012, 1:29 AM
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SFPD is taking apps right now
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Old 12-03-2012, 7:13 AM
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If you have to ask... then NO!
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Old 01-03-2013, 3:25 PM
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If you really want to be a cop, you wouldn't ask this question. You would go ahead and do whatever it takes. Police work is very hard work and isn't something you wake up the next day and decide to do.
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Old 01-03-2013, 5:31 PM
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Originally Posted by TrailerparkTrash View Post
You asked for an opinion, so here's mine:

Becoming a cop is not something one thinks hap-hazardly of "gee, should I become a cop???? I just don't know????? Hmmmmm." Most cops I know have had a passion and prepared most of their young lives to eventually become a cop. They've had a mind set to become one and have driven their passions further by preparing for some time before applying and testing for the job.

For example, when I was in high school, my buddy and I just dreamed about being a cop. After high school and four years of college, that dream continued and we did everything to prepare for the job and life style. We were ready "mentally."

At age 33, many have become cops. But I've seen many middle aged or "30 something" people drop what their doing in life, only to fail at becoming a cop. Their "head" just wasn't in the right mind set. It's NOT a job or life style like working at a bank, 7-11, sales, or anything else.

It's not a game buddy. If your looking for "excitement," I recommend you stay in your current career and choose some type of exiting hobby instead.

Just my opinion, which isn't worth much.


Sorry, but that's not going to happen for a long time. Look at the fiscal projection for 2013. The economy is getting worse. Cali taxes are rising, Fed taxes are rising.... We're screwed. I know, "doom and gloom" here, but one can see it as fact. Didn't Oakland PD not fill like 34 police officer positions recently? San Bernardino city is going bankrupt and they haven't paid into CalPERS for a while.........

Surrrrrrre, the economy is improving. Police departments will always hire here and there, but it's not going to be like it was in the 90's. No more mass hiring.
This. +1
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