Are you curious how you become a police officer? If you’ve always been passionate about helping others and interested in criminal justice, then working as a law enforcement officer may be your calling. Officers are role models, defenders of justice and symbols in their community. They protect civilians, maintain the peace, and help bring justice and closure to victims of crimes. They are the first line of response when a criminal act takes place. Your actions and presence can be lifesaving in many cases. Regardless of what happens on the job, you know that every day you don your badge, you are working toward the greater good.
While some officers do earn a four-year undergraduate degree, you can also enter law enforcement with a diploma or degree from a vocational school. Within as little as 9 months you can receive your criminal justice diploma and an additional 6 months of education will excel you to a degree.
Why Does Someone Get into Public Safety?
Public safety is a selfless job that requires passion and dedication. You may work with people who are going through some of the most difficult moments of their lives, this can be both offenders and people impacted by crimes. Your desire to help others and serve your community will likely be your biggest inspiration as you look for work in law enforcement.
You may also have a strong desire to protect and serve your community and become a part of something bigger than yourself. Local law enforcement is one big family, and everyone works together. Team players will find themselves right at home in law enforcement, though there is also plenty of opportunity to demonstrate leadership and even rise through the ranks.
What Does a Local Law Enforcement Officer Do?
The daily work of a law enforcement officer varies based on their rank and experience, but every officer performs a variety of tasks to help their community. As a police officer, you will likely perform several responsibilities. On any given day, a law enforcement officer may:
- Respond to calls from 911 dispatch and non-emergency callers
- Conduct routine patrols of assigned areas in the community
- Monitor traffic with a speedometer, perform stops and issue citations to drivers
- Detain criminals caught in or suspected of illegal activity
- Maintain peace and mediate domestic disputes
- Gather evidence from crime scenes
- Interview witnesses, write and file police reports
- Prepare information for court proceedings
Writing reports and maintaining concise, accurate details of any incidents and events are especially important for law enforcement officers. This ensures that their work is always done ethnically and in accordance with state, federal and local laws, and regulations.
As an officer, you will work with equipment such as handcuffs, police radio, taser and handgun. You will be trained how and when to use these devices, as well as alternative de-escalation strategies that lower violent encounters and help prevent police brutality.
Depending on your career goals, you may decide to pursue work as a detective, criminal investigator or become a transit officer who works at bus stations, train stops and railroads. There are also opportunities for people with a background in criminal justice to work outdoors as fish or game wardens. These law enforcement officials are responsible for enforcing federal and local laws related to boating, hunting, and fishing.
Where do Law Enforcement Officers Work?
Law enforcement officers work in their community, usually performing patrols and responding to calls in their jurisdiction. As a law enforcement officer, you will respond to calls at different locations, which may include private residences, commercial buildings or general areas where criminal activity was reported.
Law enforcement officers also spend time in their patrol vehicles and at their local station. If you work as a detective or apply to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), your work can take you to different locations around the U.S. You may even be tasked with exploring vast wilderness to search for evidence, suspects, or missing people.
How Do You Become a Local Law Enforcement Officer?
A criminal justice program at a vocational school can prepare you to enter law enforcement as an officer. The 9-month diploma program is an easy way to kickstart your career, teaching you the knowledge and building the skills you need to apply to local departments. You will then need to pass the police officer entrance exams, which includes written and oral testing as well as a job standards physical stress test.
What are the Benefits of Working in Criminal Justice?
Criminal justice jobs bring a sense of purpose and achievement into your life. Even though you may be confronted with difficult situations, you know that you are doing good for people. Even criminals can enjoy transformative experiences with the right law enforcement officers.
A career in criminal justice is a commitment toward justice, peace, and community. You uphold the law to make the world a safer place. There are some other benefits you can expect pursuing a job in criminal justice and law enforcement.
Help Others Every Day
While there will be defeats and struggles on the job, you can always act on what you feel is right. Even if you don’t “win” in a situation, you can go home knowing that you gave it your all. Going to work each day is a decision to give of yourself so you can help others. You bring people peace of mind, comfort, and security by providing compassionate, swift, and responsive law enforcement.
Responsive law enforcement is a more conscious and personal approach to being an enforcement officer. Rather than simply showing up and following protocol, you bring a personal career and interest into each case. You use your skills, knowledge, and the law to provide the best possible care that is as non-disruptive as possible. After all, it’s a law enforcement officer’s job to promote peace.
Learn New Things
Every day as a law enforcement officer brings you a chance to grow as a person. Not only do you learn through experience, but you also learn through ongoing training and continued improvements to legal standards.
Something New Each Day
No two days are alike for a police officer. Careers in law enforcement have their routine features, but they are fast-paced and provide a new problem to solve each day or challenge to overcome.
Someone who dreads the typical 9-to-5 office job will enjoy the action and nuance of criminal justice. Even if you deal with similar crimes, you are always encountering different people and working with new circumstances.
Work With Colleagues Who Share Your Passion
Officers get to work side-by-side with their partners who are equally dedicated to their jobs. It’s uplifting and inspiring to work with others who care just as much as you do. Working together to achieve a shared goal can help you feel more motivated to try your best each day.
You also become part of a larger family of law enforcement officers; every day, you are one of many officers around the nation who show up with the hope of making their communities safer.
There are also many chances for officers to participate in volunteer activities. You can give back to citizens in a number of ways, like visiting public schools to give presentations, mentoring, and coaching other officers.
What are the Benefits of Vocational College?
A vocational college offers you a chance to build your career on your own terms. There are many benefits to choosing one as the first step toward your ideal future. Here are a few of the greatest benefits you can expect as a student at our school.
Flexible Degree Options
Attending the criminal justice program full-time, you can expect to graduate as a qualified law enforcement officer candidate in as little as 9 months. You don’t have to stop there, though.
Students who want to take their education a step further can extend their degree by six months to earn an Associate of Science in Criminal Justice. Your associate degree can qualify you for even more entry-level law enforcement jobs.
A Complete Criminal Justice Curriculum
The criminal justice program prepares you for a career as an officer as well as other positions in law enforcement. From the U.S. Constitution to court procedure, federal and California state law, you learn what you need to become a knowledgeable and capable officer.
Additional studies include in-depth courses in criminal psychology, historical crime, and current crime trends. Also included is skills training in police procedure emphasis in accurate report writing and communication strategies.
Interesting and Engaging Lectures
At ATA College, we promote active over passive learning. You will participate in lectures and learn from experienced professionals while opening the door to greater conversation. Each lecture is complete, but it also contributes toward a more comprehensive understanding of law enforcement.
Law Enforcement Career Preparation
Near the end of your training, you will participate in targeted training for police applications at the local, state, and federal level. Knowing ahead of time what to expect, you can apply for agencies with confidence in your criminal justice knowledge and abilities.
Mentorships From Experienced Faculty
All our instructors have experience in criminal justice and public safety. Officers and other officials bring decades of expertise and experience to the classroom. Rather than merely listen to what they know, you are mentored by the faculty to become the most skilled professionals.
Career Development and Career Services
You have access to both professional development and guidance through our dedicated career services department. Regardless of your goal in law enforcement, our faculty is here to provide the support and information you need to achieve your dreams.
Want to Learn More?
Our mission at ATA College is to provide diploma and associate degree training for entry-level positions in specialized fields. Our goal is to assist you in learning new skills and/or enhancing previously obtained skills, through higher education. We strive to fulfill your needs in seeking employment in our community. We are committed to providing a quality education that instills core values which will develop work ethics, professionalism, honor, and integrity, giving you a competitive edge through any economic condition.
Criminal Justice & Public Safety Diploma
After completing the 9-month diploma program at our El Cajon | San Diego criminal justice school, students have the option to continue with courses in the Associate of Science program. The criminal justice associate degree is available in multiple emphasis pathways and can be completed in an additional 6 months after general education courses.
Contact us today to learn more about criminal justice career opportunities offered at ATA College.