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  #1  
Old 12-14-2009, 10:50 PM
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Default Curious About Police Academy

Hi,

I never thought I'd be considering this, but I'm interested in becoming a police officer. I'm a 31 year old married woman with no kids, moderately fit. I live in the San Diego area. I do a good amount of target shooting, and I used to hunt. My husband said this would be a good place to seek advice about LEO's so here I am.

I had seen that Miramar college offers police academy training. Can I start classes anytime they are offered or do I have to start at a certain time of year for the academy? What type of assignments can I expect as a newbie? What about working my way to becoming a detective? Also with the fitness test I know the minimum for passing, but what about what I need to put me above the rest? I'll have more questions as time goes on, but this can be a start.

Any advice is appreciated. Thank you.
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Old 12-14-2009, 11:15 PM
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I will just give you a couple of suggestions and I'm sure others will jump in.

First, find out if any dept. in your county is even hiring considering today's economy. Some may be, but I'm sure others aren't. If you find some that are, then you can apply. If you pass all of the tests and are hired, they will send you thru an academy at their expense.

Some people pay their own way thru an academy with the hope they will get picked up by a dept. Some are successful. I was hired and went thru my dept's academy and was paid while doing so. That is a whole better.

In any case, you need to make sure you are in good physical condition prior to entering any academy, otherwise you will have a difficult time or fail.

You need to have a good credit history, along with a good driving history. You will be given a backround packet to fill out and take other tests also. Be truthful at all times. I'm not saying you won't be, but if you are caught in a lie, you will be DQ'd and that will be the end of that.

Begin going on some ride alongs with the depts. you are interested in. You can contact the station and someone will explain the procedure for that. You will be asked in an oral if you went on any and you should be ready to say you did.

Good luck.
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Old 12-14-2009, 11:20 PM
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Grossmont college also offers a Police Academy Program.

Some good info from the above link include:
  1. The Academy is "paramilitary" in structure and uniforms, etc., are required. The estimated cost is about $1500 for the whole academy. This includes uniforms, registration and books. You do NOT need to purchase your own weapon, just your "leather gear", and other related equipment.
  2. Grossmont offeres level III and II Southwestern College will now offer a Level I in a modular format. Once you graduate from Level II at Grossmont, you can attend the Southwestern Academy. You must pass a written entrance and physical training exam. You should be in good physical condition, being able to run at least 3 miles per day and perform at least 50 push-ups at one time. You should be able to do pull-ups and be able to get over the 6ft wall. Previously those interested in attending Level I would have had to travel to Riverside, Whittier or Palm Desert to get the Level I modular training.


Hope that helped and good luck!
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Old 12-14-2009, 11:51 PM
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I don't know if the police academy at Miramar college is anything like the one I plan to attend in April at Golden West College, but I'll give you some info that I've gathered. The above recommendation for physical condition is what they say they want, but I can tell you that of the 26 recruits that started the last class, I would say 5-8 of them were in that level of shape, about 10-15 were moderately below that shape (2 miles at about 10min each, 35-40 push ups), and the rest were not in shape. What a lot of the fitness instructors said was that you should try and aim for 3 miles at a time under 30 mins, but they said that in beginning the pace is somewhat slow so 2 miles 20 min was adequate. What was more important was push ups and sit ups. They wanted everyone to aim for 50 push ups no stopping in 2 minutes and 50-60 sit ups in 1 min (but I think they over exaggerated).

For the GWC academy you have to pass the POST written exam, multiple choice test covering spelling, comprehension, word association, and a clos test (might be spelled different but basically you have a sentence with missing words and you fill a word that you think should fit). Next you have to pass the POST fitness test which is scale a 6ft wall and fence, 99yd obstacle course, 165lbs dummy drag, and 500yd sprint. Finally you take 100 question pysch test which based on your answers will determine if you "fit" the profile for police work.

The hours at the GWC academy are 6am to 5pm most days mon - fri, and the occasion sat. If you are sponsored or sent by a police agency, they you are paid by them and have everything paid for or given to you. On the other hand if you sponsor or pay your own way, you have to buy all of your equipment, uniforms, and etc. GWC academy had a projected cost of 4 to 5,000, but before going in they wanted us to agree/know that costs could go all the way up to 6 to 7,000.

Also if you are not sent by an agency, then when you graduate you do not have a job, just a certificate that says you have completed the basic training. So you would have to go out and find/apply. Well sorry for the long reply, but hope it helps you.
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Old 12-14-2009, 11:54 PM
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Quote:
You should be in good physical condition, being able to run at least 3 miles per day and perform at least 50 push-ups at one time. You should be able to do pull-ups and be able to get over the 6ft wall
i don't think i could do that when i graduated from my academy...but that was 30 years ago.

check into departments first, having them pay for your academy takes a lot of stress out of your life.

being able to speak a 2nd language makes you a much more desirable candidate

the running ability is highly recommended as is the ability to scale a 6' wall. when i was in recruitment, these were the biggest hurdles that women face in getting onto a departemnt
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  #6  
Old 12-15-2009, 8:40 AM
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What is your education background? Do you have your high school diploma, AA, Bachelors, etc.? Lots of departments only require a high school degree but many prefer higher education...even an AA or a certain number of college credits can greatly increase your chances of getting hired and increase your pay level.

The economy is not great right now, but there's almost never a time when NO agencies are hiring. You may not get your preferred agency right now, but maybe others are hiring and that's important for reasons I'll point out below. My agency, a very large SoCal Sheriff's Dept., has been rumored to be toying with a hiring freeze, but things can change very quickly.

OK...Controversy/Reality time. You're a girl. You have a better chance of being hired by many agencies, all else being equal. It's a very well established fact in my agency that women are being given preferential treatment in hiring, going to patrol, attaining coveted positions such as Detective/Narco/Gangs/Promotion, etc. It's the way it is and there's nothing any of us can do about it. I know several damn good female deputies who flat out told the Captain "no" when told to apply for some of these spots. They were basically strong-armed into taking the spots because we need our female numbers up for the consent decree. They wanted to advance on their own merits and were concerned about perception that they got the spot because they were females (which they did). I don't fault them and since it's the system we work in, you should use it to your advantage...just make sure you deserve it and work hard. You're more likely to get a spot in the academy so make sure you're ready.

As for paying for college "academy" classes or Criminal Justice classes...This is a good way to learn more about law enforcement, but most departments, upon hiring you, will pay for you to attend the academy. They'll pay for at least some of your stuff, and they'll pay you. You get none of this if you pay your own way, and I'm not sure how much it benefits you. Others may be able to explain the cost/benefit more.

Here's a simplistic and one-point-of-view timeline...

When you apply to a law enforcement agency, you will be required to complete an in-depth background packet. You will probably take written, oral, and physical tests. Your background will be investigated and you may (depending on dept.) be required to take a polygraph or voice stress analysis test. If all goes well you will get a psych eval (usually a written test and oral interview), medical eval, and then be given a conditional offer of employment. My process took 11 months and part of that was that the dept. messed up. I know people that got hired in 3 months. Much of it has to do with how much you have in your background. If you're young with less work experience, the background check is easier. (But that doesn't mean you're more likely to be hired.)

Once you're hired, you'll go to an academy. Some agencies will recognize other academies (if you pay your own way) while others won't and they'll require you to attend their academy regardless.

In the academy, you will be required to perform well in several categories including physical fitness, knowledge based testing, firearms, driving, defensive tactics, officer safety, etc. Failure to perform in each of these areas means you fail. This adds stress beyond simply being able to perform in a certain area. For example...You may be fit, but if you're up all night studying because you're a crappy test taker (not a put down...everyone has weaknesses) your PT performance and ability to avoid injury (the evil word) will suffer. There is a great amount of balance and multi-tasking necessary in the academy and the more prepared you are in advance, the easier it will be. That's one big reason why it's a good idea to be in the best shape possible before you go in. A big hint: Go on lots of ride-alongs at the department you want to apply to...Make friends with the officers/deputies. They've been through it and can give you some good tips and tricks. Less surprises = good. (Take everything with a grain of salt though)

OK...So you made it through the academy, and now you're sitting in your living room flashing your badge at the mirror and freaking out in coffee shops because you figure everyone in the world can see that monstrous issue pistol you're trying to conceal under clothing you haven't yet made "CCW friendly". Two things will happen....If you got hired by a Police Dept (or some Sheriff's Depts) you will go straight to patrol. If so, skip this next part...Well, read it anyway, but it won't apply....If you get hired by one of many Sheriff's Departments in CA, you will go to that wonderful place called custody (or courts, transportation, admin etc.) before you get parole...I mean patrol.

I spent four and a half years in custody. I'm working with people who spent less than a year and we just got two female (patrol) trainees who spent about four months in custody. The time varies and don't believe what anyone says...You can be out in patrol anywhere from a few months to several years. When I was hired (and threatened with being laid off due to the budget) they were telling us that we'd be in custody for 7-10 years. Then all of a sudden, with a new house and a wife newly pregnant, they flipped a switch and it was like "go! now!" Things change that fast so don't put too much stock in the rumor mill.

So while you're marinating in custody, you get to learn about bad guys. You wanna learn how tweakers make meth? Call the dorm trustee and tell 'em to bring you a meth cooker. In twenty minutes, you'll know. ID theft, burglary techniques, gang makeup and requirements, drug influence, manufacture, hiding places, where they get guns, where they hide guns, how they buy drugs and guns, etc. Criminals will talk to you in custody like nowhere else. It's college for criminals and it's a doctorate for cops. If you play your cards right, you'll go to patrol with an unbelievable amount of experience.

Speaking of experience, there are other options besides custody. You could work courts or transportation,etc. While they have advantages (work courts and you get to see how the system (doesn't) works and see what types of testimony are good/bad/etc.), but I believe nothing is better during this time than working custody.

OK....Now you made it through custody. You managed to avoid getting caught up in the "new cop" traps like going to bars and getting in fights/driving drunk/etc. doing UNBELIEVABLY stupid things that will get at least one, if not more of your academy classmates fired. They put out the list and "holy poop! You're going to patrol!" By this time you're either ecstatic or mildly suicidal. Hopefully you prepared and are jazzed. I was...

After you get handcuffed to a tree in front of the module and covered with every expired condiment from the ODR while other custody deputies take pictures of you and every supervisor at the facility is conveniently tying their shoes (what!?!?? I didn't say that, did I?) you'll see that place no more. You'll have graduated into "PATROL".

You'll probably go to some training, then you'll be in the field with a training officer. In my agency this is 6 months, give or take. Then you're on your own. Most coveted positions (Detectives, Narco, Gangs, etc.) require time in patrol, so you'll want to take this opportunity to have fun and build you're resume. After a while you may decide to become a field training officer and teach the people who were in your shoes. That will make you much more desirable to those special units.

If you don't get hired by your preferred agency, try for others. Upon getting your Basic POST certification, you can apply as a lateral to other departments and are much more likely to be hired. You also may find that you actually grew to love the agency you hired with and decide to stay...

It's a process, and a long one, but it's fun, hilarious, rewarding, and you will see things that no one else will. It's a great career and a rewarding one. It can be tragic and it can destroy you if you don't keep perspective.

I cannot imagine myself doing any other job.

Good luck and when you decide it's right for you, never, never, never give up. Never.

Last edited by SoCalDep; 12-15-2009 at 8:43 AM..
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  #7  
Old 12-15-2009, 8:17 AM
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Right now, the only agency that is actively hiring is Nasty City, so bear that in mind if you are looking at this from a financial perspective. The Miramar academies are 7-5 Monday through Friday, with some Saturdays, held two to three times a year and last about six months. If you are not sponsored your cost will be about $1,500 to $2,000. The Grossmont and Southwestern academies are held once a year starting in September and last about 14 months.
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Old 12-15-2009, 9:27 AM
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Hell of a post Socaldep, thanks for the great info.
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Old 12-15-2009, 9:31 AM
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Last couple of academy classes I taught had several people aged 30 or older who were putting themselves through it and hoping to find new jobs. Heck, in my academy way back when, we had Fish & Game wardens who were in their 40's and just then being made Peace Officers, which is why they were there. (some made it through the physical part, at least one didnt).

It can be done - depends on your level of commitment and ability. Keep asking questions about the process. If you ever do become a cop, that's the one thing that you'll be doing the most, asking questions........
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Old 12-15-2009, 9:40 AM
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Great information, Thanks.
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Old 12-15-2009, 9:41 AM
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I am not eligible to apply for a year (which is frustrating) but just trying to lay some good foundations for when I do. I do worry about my age being a factor (33yrs old by the time I can apply) but I look after my fitness level a lot better than most.

I am imagining taking some Spanish language lessons might be a good way to make myself more attractive as a applicant.
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Old 12-15-2009, 11:53 AM
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SoCalDep, that was an excellent post.
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Old 12-15-2009, 12:24 PM
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Thanks all...

Spanish is good...but unless you're fluent it probably won't help you get hired. It will help you immensely on the job though. In addition, taking the classes does show that you're taking the job seriously and trying to prepare. That'll probably look pretty good to your background investigator. As for your age, I had a guy who was 43 in my academy and he was one of the top PT guys. He put me to shame. We had several older men and women and 33 shouldn't be an issue if you're in good shape.
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Old 12-15-2009, 12:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoCalDep View Post
Thanks all...

Spanish is good...but unless you're fluent it probably won't help you get hired. It will help you immensely on the job though. In addition, taking the classes does show that you're taking the job seriously and trying to prepare. That'll probably look pretty good to your background investigator. As for your age, I had a guy who was 43 in my academy and he was one of the top PT guys. He put me to shame. We had several older men and women and 33 shouldn't be an issue if you're in good shape.
Thanks again. Is it fine to try and go on ride alongs with a Dept even if I dont foresee working there? Or should I try and keep them all one Dept?

I have a current job, will they be sensitive to that when doing the background check?
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Old 12-15-2009, 2:56 PM
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Thanks again. Is it fine to try and go on ride alongs with a Dept even if I dont foresee working there? Or should I try and keep them all one Dept?

I have a current job, will they be sensitive to that when doing the background check?
I would go on ride-alongs with as many departments as you can. What you "think" you like now may change when you are exposed to different options. Initially there was no way I was going to apply to a Sheriff's Dept. because I didn't want to have to work custody. I'm glad my opinion changed.

In a similar way, as custody deputies we could go on ride alongs at the patrol stations. I was "sure" I was going to go to one station, but after doing a few rides at another station, and not having the best experience at the station I thought I wanted, I ended up changing my selection and I'm much happier for it. Unless you see things for yourself you'll not be able to make a really solid decision.

Regarding present employment...My dept. was really good. I put on the background check form not to contact my work until they had to...I had been working as a manager for over a year in place of a guy who was fired, and they were supposedly going to promote me. I deserved it (had for a year) and if they found out I was looking to leave, there would be no way I'd get it. The investigator called me in advance and told me that the time was coming for them to come out. By that time I'd had the promotion for a while so it wasn't an issue.

However, I can't speak for every investigator or every agency. Hopefully that answered your question...
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Old 12-15-2009, 5:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bRiT636 View Post
I am not eligible to apply for a year (which is frustrating) but just trying to lay some good foundations for when I do. I do worry about my age being a factor (33yrs old by the time I can apply) but I look after my fitness level a lot better than most.

I am imagining taking some Spanish language lessons might be a good way to make myself more attractive as a applicant.
I went to the academy at age 34. trust me, the younger people might run better and faster than you, do more pushups etc...but most of the 20-something year olds don't have what someone older may have. Life Experience. Don't worry about your age. use it to your advantage.

Last edited by zeekster; 12-15-2009 at 5:27 PM.. Reason: I really can't spell worth a ......
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Old 12-15-2009, 1:08 PM
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excellent post SoCalDep

it closely reflects my experience in LE.

i was stupid, when i didn't take the offer to leapfrog out of custody and work an asian gang problem, because i wanted to "put in my time".

then i stayed in patrol too long because i wanted to learn to do everything...but i really liked being a Training Officer and thought i made a difference.

i don't know what the makeup in San Diego is like, but our current need is in Russian and Slavic languages.

a degree, or even college units, is a great leg up in being a attractive canidate.

custody is also a great time to finish up your college if you don't already have a degree. it makes it faster to get your Intermediate and Advanced POST certificates

i wouldn't pass up an opening in the courts either as it really helps you see what lawyers look for in reports and investigations...it really helps your report writing...my cases hardly ever went pass prelims after i learned what to put into reports and how to testify correctly.

there are a lot more opportunities for a longer career in a sheriff's department than a PD
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Old 12-15-2009, 2:58 PM
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In the same vein as SoCalDep, there was a 52yr. old reserve from Inglewood who went thru my academy as a regular. He couldn't make the 350 points required on the PT that is given a few times thru the academy, so he was dropped.

The good news is that he was recycled to the next class 6 weeks later and made it with flying colors. He served his dept. well. I recall one story wherein he was in foot pursuit and due to his size (somewhat overweight), couldn't make it over the wooden fence the suspect jumped over.

He didn't let that stop him tho as he just ran into the fence, knocking the whole thing over and catching the suspect.

I don't believe there is any harm in riding with multiple depts. If asked why during an oral, you can always say that you wanted to be exposed to as many different depts. and officers as possible to gain as much info as possible as to how things are done.

Also, as 9mmepiphany said, there are a lot more opportunities in a Sheriff's dept. than a PD, unless of course, it is a big PD like LAPD. Another plus is if for some reason you P.O. a supervisor you have nowhere to go in a small dept. On a Sheriff's dept., you can transfer somewhere where you will never see each other again.

One last thing and 9mmepiphany touched on it; if you are not a good writer or speller, take some writing classes. If you are unable to write a good report, you will not make it off training.

You may be the most officer safety conscious officer out there and may make the most felony arrests; but if you cannot put it down on paper, grammatically correct and spelled properly, you will fail. My former dept. gives you two chances. If you fail the second one, you have two choices; resign or demote to custody assistant, which is a non sworn position at a third of the pay. It has occurred.
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Old 12-15-2009, 5:01 PM
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All great information - thank you. I had the same reservations about the Sheriff's dept/custody so you have definitely given me something to think about.

I will just have to hope I get a good background investigator and explain the situation well. Thanks again, I don't these will be my last questions though
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Old 12-15-2009, 5:05 PM
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I can only echo what SoCalDep and retired said. Good advice.
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Old 12-15-2009, 5:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cendari View Post
Hi,

I never thought I'd be considering this, but I'm interested in becoming a police officer. I'm a 31 year old married woman with no kids, moderately fit. I live in the San Diego area. I do a good amount of target shooting, and I used to hunt. My husband said this would be a good place to seek advice about LEO's so here I am.

I had seen that Miramar college offers police academy training. Can I start classes anytime they are offered or do I have to start at a certain time of year for the academy? What type of assignments can I expect as a newbie? What about working my way to becoming a detective? Also with the fitness test I know the minimum for passing, but what about what I need to put me above the rest? I'll have more questions as time goes on, but this can be a start.

Any advice is appreciated. Thank you.
I know nothing about San Diego Agencies, but I do know LASD is hiring women big time re: Consent Decree
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Old 12-15-2009, 6:12 PM
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Wow thanks everyone for the great advice! As for my education I have a four year degree.
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Old 12-15-2009, 6:34 PM
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id do a few ride alongs with some local agencys first and some serious soul searching to see if this is really what you want to do and not just looking for "a good career" because ya cant find anything else... (note ride alongs will get you a feel of what the job is like and how police / sheriff , HP etc function)

the competition is fierce right now (not many openings and if there are everyone and there brother, sister and uncle is applying because they want a good paying job) This is something you have to want and have a heart for it... the last physical ability test i went to there were probably 300 people there and there were one or 2 openings)

Id recommend picking up one of those study books (becomming a police officer in california etc) at barnes and noble... it gives you a run through of the hiring process and what to expect. and some things to study when you need to take the POST written test...

Last edited by KevinXT; 12-15-2009 at 6:47 PM..
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Old 12-16-2009, 10:08 AM
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I have not read the majority of the abundant responses, but here a few of my thoughts:

I went to a full time Academy 10/07 to 03/08. During Academy, I was one of the recruits that stood out and was noticed by the training officers. One of the main ways to get hired during Academy and to have a job waiting for you, is for your training officers to like you. There are very few things you can change about yourself prior to joining academy. You will not be able to change your character, your demeanor, tone of speech, I.Q., etc.... The main thing you have control to start changing now is your physical fitness level.

There were recruits who never said a word unless spoken to. They were given jobs almost exclusively based on being obedient and being physically fit. Many of them did not even make it through FTO (on the job training). The point is, if you decide to go to Academy, I would recommend being in the best shape possible.

More imortantly is the current job market. I worked at my PD for about 18 months (thankfully clearing probation and getting POST cert.) I was then layed off due to the city's poor management of money, and greedy,....never mind all of that. I know many other police officers who are in the same boat.

I know from experience that sometimes there are hundreds of applicants for 1 open position at a department.

There is definately no guarentee you will be able to get a job anywhere close to where you live. Check it out first. If you get hired by certain Depts. they will hire first, and pay you to attend academy (LA, CHP). That is a safe route to go.

Also, even if the job market looks bleak where you live, Academy was a blast. You probably will not regret it. You will get into great shape (or better shape). You will learn alot, and you will meet some good people. It was like an easier BASIC training. You could then perhaps work as a reserve officer. This will build experience, and perhaps when things turn around economically, you would be a shoe in at the department you volunteer at. Many people go this route.

Summary of suggestions:

1. If you can afford it on your own, Academy is good even if you don't get hired. You can work as a reserve, which could be fun and enlightening.
2. To maximize your chances of getting a job sooner, be in excellent physical shape prior to Academy.
3. The Job market is weak right now. If you need a job quickly this is not the route, unless you can get hired by an agency which will pay you to go to academy.

Note: I have numerous friends who became police officers at age 31 or greater and love it. Of course some people do realize they hate police work soon after starting (or during academy).
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Old 12-16-2009, 10:17 AM
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bRiT636 bRiT636 is offline
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Good stuff, I personally cant afford the money or time to put myself through an academy. I will actually be decreasing my salary & benefits to join a Dept ( initially anyway), so hopefully this economy rights itself next year so that a lot more of the applicants will be there for the right reasons.
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Old 12-16-2009, 12:20 PM
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Just a heads up, if you put yourself through an academy and you graduate with a POST, your POST will only be good for three years. Which means unless you are picked up by a department, your POST will expire. When hired, your POST stays active. So in a nut shell, you have three years to find a job after receiving your POST. Just though I would throw that out there as I have seen it happen to friends of mine.
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Old 12-16-2009, 2:24 PM
fegves2id fegves2id is offline
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I am nearly positive that the POST certification expiration date is extended as long as you maintain your reserve status with a department (Something like 10-20 hours per month).

Basically, it can last forever as long as you do reserve time. If you do not do reserve duty for a month, you will have 2 years and 11 month left until expiration and so forth.
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