Police work by its very nature is dangerous. The essence of being a police officer requires the people sporting the badge and gun to continually expose themselves to situations that are hazardous and often life threatening. Proper training can often mean the difference between success and failure, life or death.
Those who choose law enforcement as a career often already have an interest in the legal system. They may have spent some time in the military, earned a four-year degree in criminal justice or worked in private security prior to entering police work. Regardless of their background, potential candidates for any police department often exhibit certain skills and traits characteristic of the law enforcement officer such as a keen eye for detail, a knack for "reading" people and the ability to remain calm in adrenaline-driven situations. The ability to handle a firearm, master certain one-on-one combat skills and being able to multitask under stress are also helpful skills.
In most municipalities, the aspiring police officer is expected to attend and successfully complete a police training academy. It is the role of the instructors to instill within the trainee the skills necessary to handle any situation and end every shift alive and well. The academy is often an intensive, lengthy period where rookies are subjected to a physical fitness regiment, in-depth study of local and state laws and hands-on and real-life scenario training. By the completion of the academy, the rookie officer will have been supplied with the knowledge and skills to survive on the streets.
Graduation from the academy is monumental in the rookie officer's career. She has successfully survived the grueling course of training and stand ready to enforce the law and protect the innocent. What will set apart the best from the rest is the field-training period. After the intensity of the police academy, the rookie officer is now ready to put her training to use. Assigned to a veteran officer, sometimes known as an FTO, or Field Training Officer, the rookie is taught to effectively handle a wide variety of situations from one as simple as running the computer systems and communicating via the radio to responding to domestic disputes, arresting suspects and handling traffic stops.
Protecting the Public
Proper training protects the public as well. An officer well versed in investigative techniques will be able to get the facts of a situation and be able to figure out exactly what happened just by asking the right questions and collecting the correct evidence. Likewise, the same officer will have the patience to prevent an altercation between two angry concertgoers, and the negotiation skills to talk a suicidal person down from an open window or gain the trust of a lost child.
A Special Calling
Police work is definitely not for everyone. Simply surviving the academy and the field-training period can be mentally draining and physically stressful. However, just like getting dressed or riding a bike, the skills, knowledge and techniques become second nature to the officer, allowing him to successfully protect himself, his colleagues and the general public.
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