When making career choices, it is always wise to look at the positives and negatives of each career you are considering. For example, if you are wishing to pursue a career in law enforcement, you must be aware of the pros and cons of becoming a police officer.
There are many factors to consider when deciding on a career as a police officer. Work in law enforcement can be very rewarding.
Police officer jobs are government jobs. Local, state, and federal governments continue to be the biggest employers in the United States. Jobs in law enforcement will always be in demand. Since law enforcement jobs are government jobs, they often carry better benefits than jobs in the private sector. Also, the retirement track is usually much shorter in public service than the private sector.
Law enforcement is an honorable job. For the majority of the public, the police officer is one of the more respected members of the community. Also, police officers are often viewed as heroes by youth in the area.
Law enforcements officers receive excellent training that can be used beyond their careers in police work including problem identification, problem solving and public relations.
You gain a sense of pride and accomplishment from being a police officer. Police officers are literally that “thin blue line” between law abiding citizens and criminals. As a police officer, you make up that barrier that protects the public.
Law enforcement is a family. You will make friends that will last a lifetime. Law enforcement officers are loyal to their coworkers. You are part of a team.
Opportunities for advancement are abundant in law enforcement work. As individuals retire or move up in the ranks, you have more chances of promotion. Also, because police departments are usually divided in several divisions, you have a number of choices on which career track you wish to take (whether it be working homicides, sex offenses, property crimes or moving up the patrol ranks).
There are many advantages to becoming a police officer; however, there are some disadvantages to being a police officer as well.
Law enforcement can be a very dangerous career. You will come into contact with violent individuals who do not care about the safety of anyone (including themselves). In addition, since the majority of police work is done from a patrol vehicle, you are at increased risks of being involved in a traffic accident (especially in pursuit situations).
Law enforcement work can be very stressful. With departmental policies; local, state and federal laws; and other regulations, you may find it difficult at times to stay abreast of all that is required of you as a police officer. Also, law enforcement work requires a great deal of documentation. With the move to computerization, officers who have been working in this field for many years are finding it stressful to learn the new technology.
You will see some of the more horrendous acts committed against individuals imaginable. Law enforcement work can be extremely heartbreaking. Officers not only deal with the offenders, they are the first person in the criminal justice system that the victim will see. This has led to cases of post traumatic stress disorder among police officers. In the United States each year, there are approximately 300 suicides among police officers.
Work schedules are another disadvantage of law enforcement work. Most departments have 12-hour rotating shifts. Your schedule may vary from day to night shift with little to no notice. Police work doesn’t take a holiday. You will have to work weekends, nights, and holidays.
Police work can be very stressful on your family life. Many families cannot deal with the stress of having an officer in the family. Divorce rates among police officers remains high.
Rate of pay for officers still remains low based on the level of danger and responsibility involved. Many officers find themselves in need of second jobs to make ends meet. Additionally, pay raises are sometimes slow in coming.
The decision to become a police officer should not be taken lightly. It is important that you weigh all the pros and cons before making this commitment. You must have the desire to serve the public, protect others and work as a team in order to be a successful police officer.
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