An interview with Brendan C., a police officer who works in the state of California.
Q: How long have you been a police officer?
A: I have been a police officer for two years.
Q: What type of training did you have to become a police officer?
A: I started out as a 911 dispatcher, answering emergency calls and interacting with police officers on the job. My tenure in emergency dispatch lasted about six years. I also received an Associates degree in criminal justice from Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island.
Of course, to become an officer, everyone has to go through the academy. That was an amazing experience and also a difficult one too. I learned a lot about the job, but it is like going to an Army boot camp!
Q: What do you like best about your job?
A: I like the fact this it is something different everyday. There is also a great freedom to being on your own and not having someone watching over you all day while you work. I wouldn’t want to be stuck in a cubicle all day with a slew of people telling me what to do.
Q: What do you not like about your job?
A: I currently do not enjoy working the overnight hours, as I find I am not getting enough sleep. Unfortunately, that is a rookie thing and I will have to put in my time until a better shift is given to me… Law enforcement is out on the streets 24/7.
Q: Describe your typical day on the job.
A: If there is not anything urgent going on, than I typically do patrols of my areas at night. Mainly, I check on various businesses – strip malls, stores, gas stations – and make sure no one is breaking into them or causing any trouble. I also find there are a lot of domestic disputes called in at night, suspicious autos and the occasional OIU, or operating under the influence.
Once the sun starts coming up, I go around and double check my areas and make sure nothing has changed over night. We also get the random person who calls in to complain about a barking dog!
Q: What traits do you feel are necessary to be successful as a police officer?
A: You have to be honest and diligent, most of all. An officer also has to be on his toes and be prepared for anything. This line of work is not easy and you never know what could happen in the course of your shift. I think you must also have your emotions in check, because at some point you have to deal with death, horrific accidents and people who are under sever emotional stress.
Q: Would you recommend this career to someone else?
A: I think law enforcement is a great job for an individual who wants to serve their community, as it can be very rewarding on a personal level. It is also a fantastic job, because you never feel like it is ever going to get monotonous. Every day is different and you never know what you are going to come across.
Q: What is your next career move, if any?
A: I would like to continue as an officer for a while and then see if I can become a supervisor or work for the Highway Patrol.
If you think you might be interested in pursuing a career as a police officer, check out our list of schools in California offering programs and degrees in Criminal Justice.