Although not all law enforcement careers require a post-secondary degree or certification, there are some skills and education that will benefit anyone who aspires to become a law enforcement officer. Police departments and agencies will look for potential recruits who are knowledgeable in a variety of topics. If you are interested in a law enforcement career, ensure your background experience reflects the following capabilities.
Law enforcement officers should have good verbal and written communication skills. Police officers need to be able to communicate effectively with people in a variety of situations, whether giving instructions or orders or making a request during a traffic stop. They should always speak clearly, using good grammar, intonation, and pronunciation. Officers are required to write detailed reports of the incidents and investigations in which they are involved. These reports might be used as evidence in court; therefore, their documentation of events must not only be legible, but it should also depict the happenings in logical sequence.
Law enforcement officers should also have good computer skills. With rapid advances in technology, police officers should be comfortable using a computer and any technological devices that support them in performing their job. Law enforcement officers use computers for storing, analyzing, and accessing all types of data, including information on reported crimes, arrests, motor vehicles, gun permits, and more. This readily accessible data allows officers to proceed with their work more quickly and efficiently, as the information will be at their fingertips.
Psychology and sociology are two important sciences that will help law enforcement officers better understand both individual and group behavior. When a police officer is faced with someone who is shooting at people, the officer’s background in psychology will help him or her understand how the shooter will react and respond in such a tense and difficult situation. Sociology helps a law enforcement officer understand the needs and beliefs of the various groups in a community. This understanding is essential for effective community outreach and support, and can be critical during a crisis that impacts potentially just one segment of society.
Most law enforcement agencies require applicants to have a post-secondary degree. Even if you do not have a degree at the time you apply for a police recruit position, if you can demonstrate you have higher education in the above-listed areas, you will improve your chance of being accepted into the position. There are many excellent criminal justice schools to choose from if you’re interested in a law enforcement career.