For starters, it’s going to take a while, so if you’re in for a quick job transition — think again.
One might expect that law enforcement agencies are itching to scoop up the next available vet, but you’d be surprised just how faulty this mentality is, and how much disappointment is in store if you rely on military preference to do the work for you.
As a ground Marine, my first inclination after getting out of the service was to swap a uniform for another and keep a pistol on my thigh. I thought my two overseas deployments and expert shooting badges would make me a shoo-in. Talk about culture shock. I was humbled rather quickly in the police academy, as I quickly learned that military training and police training are apples and oranges.
Truth is, police departments are looking for thinkers — men and women who can deescalate a potentially threatening situation with communication skills and other nonlethal methods. Did I learn these skills in the academy? Yes, but it was more difficult for me than most. Combat training is all muscle memory in the military, and it took time for me to let those memories go and adjust my techniques.
Oh, so you can curve bullets? Who cares? Certainly not police interviewers. It’s all about making sound judgment calls and preventing legal headaches. As a police officer, you’re are a huge liability and are often granted police powers that demand unflinching knowledge of complex laws that, if fudged, can get you and your department sued.
Most have heard the phrase “getting a job is a job in itself.” Becoming a police officer is more than that. It takes an individual who wants nothing else. I’ve had friends spend four years just trying to get hired. Do they get hired? Most of them, yes. But for some it’s a slippery slope of time-consuming, out-of-pocket training that may result in an individual caving and taking a security job out of frustration. And if you want to be a cop, a security guard job will never satisfy that want.
So, you have that want. You have the determination. Here — broken down without a coat of sugar — are the realities…