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Posted: 9/17/2002 9:05:35 AM EDT
I am 37 years old and have reached the point where I can't continue to do a job and making a living doing something I don't enjoy. It is a long story so I won't go into it, but I have realized that I have lived my life after the expectations of others and I am ready finally and have the balls (I think) to do what I want to do for a change. I have always had a desire to be a cop and serve the public in that way. I am miserable with what I am doing, somewhat depressed, and my wonderful wife has told me, that she will support me with whatever I decide to do. I am in good health 5'10 and about 185 pounds and have a bachelor's in Music Education although that is not what I do for a living. I have even started running to get into shape. Been at a desk job for the last 10 years. I need some advise on how to start to move toward this career. I don't really care where I live really although living in a smaller town or community is preferable to a big city. I really need someone to serously tell me how to start this change. Thanks for anyones advice, patsue
Link Posted: 9/17/2002 9:22:48 AM EDT
Well, the first thing you need to do is start looking at LE agencies that you would be interested in and see what their requirements are especially the age requirements. In Texas alot of agencies won't hire first time officers past 45 and will only hire above the age of 36 if you have previous LE or military experience. That might not be the case in your state though. Don't let that worry you too much though. Get doing that and that will be a good start for you. I'm sure that there is more but others will point out to you. Good Luck!
Link Posted: 9/17/2002 9:46:51 AM EDT
hey, good for you!!! i did/doing the same thing. i'm 33. screw people "flaming" at you on here. we're older, we're not young power-crazed assholes that'll let the LE ego take front & center (not that all young LEOs are like that). but i see some of those dudes from time to time, they have no compassion for people. screw 'em! way i see it, i'm glad that more of the "good guys" will be in uniform. hell, it'll probably come in handy for the gun community in the future. anyway, i had the exact same symptoms of being utterly depressed with my job. so i went to the res. officer academy. been doing road patrols, and love it. i'll be going to the regular academy in feb. so i say go for it! don't look back, you'll love it! i certainly don't know all there is to know, & won't pretend i do, but so far i don't regret the move. i don't know what kind of shape you're in but ya better start runnin your ass off, and do push ups.
Link Posted: 9/17/2002 9:49:22 AM EDT
If you have four years of ACTIVE military service, you should be able to get around most age restrictions. If not, it may be a problem. Then again, maybe not.
Link Posted: 9/17/2002 9:58:37 AM EDT
Good Luck Man!
Link Posted: 9/17/2002 9:59:35 AM EDT
Link Posted: 9/17/2002 11:34:17 AM EDT
I was 45 when I did a reserve academy, at 46 I went through the full blown academy. It was the hardest thing I've ever went through in my life. I have been a full time officer for 2 years now. I love the work. The only things you have to remember is to always be alert, and that this is a people job. Just because the law is, well I hate using this term but, black and white, doesn't mean you always have to enforce as such. you have to show some human compassion. We have guys that are always being challenged here because of their attitude. I have yet to be challenged. Its all in the way you present your self. Most of the time if you show respect, you will receive respect. In other words you get out of this job what you put into the job. the hard part is leaving the job at the office at the end of the shift. That comes with time. I love the work. The money sucks but if you are a good officer, and in time you will know, the respect you get from the public makes up for the pay. Good luck.
Link Posted: 9/17/2002 11:42:23 AM EDT
What a strange and curious world we live in. I am 34, and just tested last weekend for the Phx PD. I tested for Border Patrol about 2 years ago, but my credit (divorce) eliminated me. You may want to try a local, larger dept as they may have a greater need, and better resources for training. I have been in psych for almost 12 years, and now am there to get a check. I vowed that if my job ever came to just that, then it was time to move on. Maybe PD is just what we both need. My mom and her husband were both Sheriffs, and one encouraged me and the ohter shot it down, so it was kind of a crap shoot, but I think that it is something that I WANT, plus I may be doing something for my kids (or yours). Who knows? But good luck, and if you relocate to AZ, I know of a few PD's that are hiring, especially with a BA. Mark
Link Posted: 9/17/2002 11:51:43 AM EDT
I'm 31 and was in a similar situation as you. Unhappy behind a desk w/ a BA degree etc. Wife support's my career move that I'll be making as a Deputy Sheriff. Academy starts for me in JAN. W/ a BA degree, good credit history and honesty w/ the background info you shouldn't have any prob. Just keep running though!
Link Posted: 9/17/2002 5:38:56 PM EDT
You guys need to think again. I've been a police officer since I was 23 in a pretty good sized town with a large minority population and I am here to tell you you guys are too old to start policing. Even when you are in your 20's it is hard to run down guys who are not wearing a bunch of equipment on their home turf. If you are over 30 you aren't going to be running anybody down unless you are patroling some retirement community. The idea of the street is you work the night shifts in the street when you are in your 20's and by the time you are in your 30's you are at least on the day shift if not out of the street. When I was in my 20's I lifted 4 days a week and ran 9 to 12 miles a week. I was also single. No matter what your wife says now, when you are working nights, Christmas, weekends, Thanksgiving, you name it, she will get tired of that stuff. If you have kids you will never see them unless they are asleep. Departments everywhere are desperate to hire anyone. Wonder why? The reality of policing is not good and it gets worse every year. Most of the guys on my shift right now are late 30's to early 40's and every one of them except me and about 3 other guys has high blood pressure and takes meds every day. I guess if you get on some Mayberry type department it might be better, but if it's not a civil service job, it's not even a real job. If you are looking down the barrel of 40, DO NOT come out into the street. You can't do real, ghetto policing at that age and if you are having some kind of mid life crisis and think you want to "help people" remember the FBI profile of the victim officer is a nice officer who wants to "help people". Nice guys finish dead and 40 year old nice guys need to stay out of the street. I'd like to join the Marines and go kill rag heads for the next 20 years, but I'm too old and have a family. The time to do certain things comes and goes. If you can't stand it and think I'm full of shit, look at American Police Beat newpaper. I think they have a website. The whole back of it is classifieds for police jobs all over. Good luck and snap out of it.
Link Posted: 9/18/2002 3:01:35 PM EDT
Sorry for you to sound so bitter. I am probably going to join the Reserves too. I am divorced, and my ex makes visitation difficult even though we are "50/50". I don't know if I am too old to join the active service, but I can't think of my kids growing up with the threats that we have now, and knowing that I was too cowardly to try to do something about it. I am no coward. If I can't go overseas to protect my country and my kids, then I will do it at home.
Link Posted: 9/18/2002 3:47:50 PM EDT
Hmmm. The age is going to make things rough on you. they're not kidding about the physical demands of the job. I have two people out right now on injured status. One will have eye surgery, and will probably medically retire. That said, I'm 44 and been at it for 23 years. Course, I spend more time chasng paper than actual street work these days. (curses of senority) One thing you need to look at closely. Finances. Small departments, (the most desperate to hire) pay squat and work you a LOT. You'll most likely pick up the tab for equipment, state mandated training, and a host of other things. Not a small consideration. The minimum classes alone will run hundreds of dollars a year, and you need a lot more than the minimum. Just a suggestion, but i'd ignore small depts and concentrate on agencies that can afford to train, equip, and provide you with a benefit package. You're of the age where you don't have the luxury of all those extra years planning for retirement. lastly, a good dept will have a hiring process that'll take months, and weed out 99% of the applicants. Don't quit your current job yet.
Link Posted: 9/18/2002 4:16:05 PM EDT
I hear people talking about all the running in the academy I was wondering how much running do you really have to do in the academy and in what time?
Link Posted: 9/18/2002 4:39:21 PM EDT
Well, having just turned 30, I am in the same position. I am very actively training, including running, lifting, push ups and sit ups. I am wanting to get on a smaller municipality pd in WA, but I am shotgunning apps out to every agency in the greater Seattle area. Am I concerned about my age? yes, but not greatly so. I agree with whom ever said this earlier, but I think a little maturity will go very far in this job, if I am good enough to get hired. I am busting ass on Alki Point every night at around 20:30 if anyone wants to come down and join me!
Link Posted: 9/18/2002 4:49:06 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/18/2002 4:50:38 PM EDT by voilsb]
reading all these posts about the physical demands is kinda funny. i'm not saying that your job isn't demanding, and I very much respect all but the bottom 5-10% of police officers based solely on their profession, but around here (Oregon) i'd say about 85% of the cops [i]couldn't[/i] run down an 80yr old win a walker in a retirement home. granted, there are certainly some very in-shape cops around here, too (most are the bicycle cops). but the majority I see are just as wide as they are tall. it probably just depends on your district edited for SPELLING ERRORS!
Link Posted: 9/18/2002 5:40:54 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/18/2002 5:44:40 PM EDT by GeorgiaCop]
I don't know where all these people got the idea that you're supposed to chase every 18 year old crackhead that decides to take off on you. I'm 40 and started on the street when I was 38. Hell I couldn't have caught these bastards when I was 20. 99 times out of 100 if some maggot that's loitering around takes off on you he's a regular in the area and you will see him again and he'll still have some rocks in his pocket. I'm not going to take off after these idiots when they know every trail and cut through the woods between apartment complexes. I've found tripwires and even fish hooks hanging from tree branches that are just waiting for some gung ho cop to get snagged on. Yes I do "ghetto" policing in a suburb that borders on Atlanta. You can't get much more "ghetto" than that. The chief told me that he likes to hire older guys because of they usually think a little more before jumping into a bad situation. Patsue, go for it. I came from corrections where I was a Sargeant and bored to tears. I've been on the street 2 years and haven't regretted a day of it.
Link Posted: 9/18/2002 6:04:38 PM EDT
Well, as I said earlier, I tested for Phoenix PD last Saturday. The first step of the process was taking a written test. It was about 3 1/2 to 4 hours long, and you had to score atleast 70% to be considered for a position. There were about 400 applicants at the testing site. After the test, I would guess that 250-275 remained. Directly from the testing, you proceed to the academy grounds for the physical agility testing. They time you, and give you 30 minutes to get there (they time you, and it is very tough if you don't know Phx). There they split you into groups of roughly 50. We had to run 1 1/2 miles first. I had to do it in less than 13:36 minutes. Doesn't sound too tough, right? Well, how many of you have ran in Phx in Sept at almost noon? It is pretty damn hot. About 10 or 12 didn't make the cut. If you walk, you are disqualified, if you stop, ditto, automatically. They have spotters. Then, directly after the last runner crosses the line, you proceed to a 6' wall. You must go over the wall in less than 3 tries. No biggie? Guess again. There is loose pea gravel before the wall. A running jump won't work, no traction. The wall itself is smooth, with an inclined edge on top, that lends no handholds. Another 5 or 6 gone. Last one finishes, then it is time for sit-ups. I had to do 35. This one I breezed, and I think all others did too. Finally we had to do a strength test. Bench press atleast 88-135% of your weight. I didn't have a problem with this, but 2 of the 4 females did. Out. This was before they even had an application from us. No background checks yet, nothing. Who knows. On paper it doesn't sound like much, but reality was, it was harder than I gave it credit for. I will be damned if I let age, or some physical demand stop me. If nothing else, I wanted to prove it to myself, and give it my all. So as I said from the beginning. If you want it, go for it, but go 110%, and don't stop till they tell you to. Good luck, and let me know what happens. Mark
Link Posted: 9/18/2002 6:21:48 PM EDT
Speaking of background checks, I've always wondered what kind of things would disqualify a person?
Link Posted: 9/18/2002 7:30:05 PM EDT
Did you even consider that you could make more money as a public school music teacher.
Link Posted: 9/18/2002 8:48:09 PM EDT
Maybe so, but I don't have a degree. Plus AZ school teachers don't make much. They start at about 24k w/a BA in education.
Link Posted: 9/18/2002 8:49:26 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/18/2002 8:52:27 PM EDT by Colt-653]
Some answers to questions: 1.) How much should I expect to run in the academy?---A lot, You usually start out running 2.5 miles in the beginning and expect to do timed 15 mile runs by the end of your 22-36 weeks 2.) Should I work for a small town or a larger department? If you don't like infighting and bureacratic BS stay away from under 100 man departments( not saying it doesn't happen in larger Depts.---it's just eaiser to get away from it.Expect to pay for most if not all of your own personal equipment($1500+) if you go to a smaller department. Advancement in smaller departments can be easier as there are less people to fill slots, but you often are faced with the favorites game.Larger departments usually have more options. 3.) How old is to old?---In my Academy we had two officers who were in their late 40's and they smoked guys half there age in the runs and practical courses. Age is not a factor--attitude and overall health should be the guide line. 4.) How much will putting myself through an academy cost?---Figure $3500 plus, not including required equipment(gun, duty belt etc.... 5.) How long does the process take? From start to finish it's usually 6 months to 1 year+. 6.) What are things that will disqualify me? A.) Felonies B.) Bad Credit C.) Any domestic violence charges( Fed Law) D.) Sex crimes E.) Bad driving record 7.) How extensive is a background check?--Depends on the agency. In my case the department I worked for went back and talked to people I hadn't seen or talked to in 5-10+ years. If your wife or girlfriend is the jealous type, it's not too cool when ex-girlfriends start calling you! Rembemer, LE is not like the cop shows you watched as a kid. If you're a family type, get used to not see much of them. When you're new you work nights, weekends and holidays. The divorce rate is 75%+. It's often a thankless job, one you have to love doing or you're better off doing something else. Go on as many ride alongs as possible when deciding on an agency, get to know the good and bad points, and make sure you fit with the department. I also suggest that people try reserve programs before expending time, effort and money to make sure LE is something you really want to do.
Link Posted: 9/19/2002 6:46:43 AM EDT
You are not too old. We routinely hire folks who have retired from their "first" career and later decided to come into LE. They usually make excellent officers and tend to be more mature and make better decisions than the 20-somethings. It is important to be in good shape, but physical conditioning is more important to help you deal with stress and anxiety related to work that it is to chase down Joe Crarckhead (although it doesn't hurt their, either). By far, the most imporatnt skill a police officer can have is communications. You will spend most of your patrol shift talking to people and trying to get them to do what you want. Threats don't work well, and neither does bluffing. You have to able to talk effectively with people who have absolutely nothing in common with you and convince them to willingly do what you want. That is the toughest part of the job and the most important skill. I also think that you should avoid the very small agencies. The lack of pay, equipment, training and professionalism that often (not always, though) come with small agecies can be very frustrating and can compromise your safety. Pick a mid-sized PD with a good reputation. Ride out with them a few times before you make any major decisions.
Link Posted: 9/19/2002 7:06:28 AM EDT
I'd like to clarify one thng about my earlier post. Age is not a barrier specifically, it's just that it'll make the job harder on you. Older officers have to pay attention to health issues a lot more closely than a 22 year old rookie. We lose more officers to injury/illness than any other cause. Sure, a lot of officers are fat, slow, and smoke a lot. They also get medically retired and buried a lot. It's not that unusual to go to an officer's funeral where a heart attack at 42 took him out. It's just not about the academy, you are about to enter a VERY stressful lifestyle, and you need to take a hard look at your current physical condition, and honestly consider whether it's in you to undertake a continous workout and diet regimen. It's a major lifestyle change for some folks. As an aside, if you don't mind, I'd like you to go back to Natez's post and reread the section on communication. It's the most important thing in a post so far on this thread.
Link Posted: 9/19/2002 7:11:35 AM EDT
Originally Posted By GeorgiaCop: I've found tripwires and even fish hooks hanging from tree branches that are just waiting for some gung ho cop to get snagged on.
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I now you're not joking but holy crap. Traps don't discriminate their victims. How much longer before our inner cities start lokoing like Beruit? Or do they already look that way?
Link Posted: 9/19/2002 8:12:03 AM EDT
Thanks, John. As far as physical fitness goes, it is extremely important, and job-related injuries do take a severe toll. Another problem is that policing typically had an unhealthy lifesytle. Bad hours, high stress, junk food and lack of exercise made it very common for police officers to die of heart disease about two or three years into their retirements. You need to be in shape and stay that way. An agency that is progressive about physical fitness is also an agency that is probably progressive about a lot of other issues. Our agency is currently using the "carrot" method and giving incentives (proficiency pay) for passing the PT test on a regular basis. There are too many old, fat sergeants to bring out the "stick" yet, but that may change over time. We are already seeing a decrease in sick days over a year ago, and officers in good shape generally seem happier and better able to deal with stress. I know that if I don't get in pretty regular runs (and I hate running), my stress level raises considerably and my productivity and decision-making abilities take a dive. Good luck. If you do decide that law enforcement is the right career for you, make sure that it is for the right reasons and that you are mentally prepared for what lies ahead. It can be very tough, but rewarding as well.
Link Posted: 9/19/2002 9:58:24 AM EDT
I'm retired Army....was 47 when I went through the academy...spent most of my Army career on jump status and am in good health, well, when its not raining....the hardest thing for me was to switch from alpha, bravo charlie to adam, boy, charles.....hardest thing about the academy....accident investigation....
Link Posted: 9/19/2002 10:02:18 AM EDT
Let me guess--laid off tech worker? Why does everyone think that they can get government jobs whenever there is an economic downturn? You understand, of course, that adding more people to the government payroll is just exacerbating the decline of this nation, right?
Link Posted: 9/19/2002 10:12:34 AM EDT
Originally Posted By psychworker: Well, as I said earlier, I tested for Phoenix PD last Saturday. The first step of the process was taking a written test. It was about 3 1/2 to 4 hours long, and you had to score atleast 70% to be considered for a position. There were about 400 applicants at the testing site. After the test, I would guess that 250-275 remained. Directly from the testing, you proceed to the academy grounds for the physical agility testing. They time you, and give you 30 minutes to get there (they time you, and it is very tough if you don't know Phx). There they split you into groups of roughly 50. We had to run 1 1/2 miles first. I had to do it in less than 13:36 minutes. Doesn't sound too tough, right? Well, how many of you have ran in Phx in Sept at almost noon? It is pretty damn hot. About 10 or 12 didn't make the cut. If you walk, you are disqualified, if you stop, ditto, automatically. They have spotters. Then, directly after the last runner crosses the line, you proceed to a 6' wall. You must go over the wall in less than 3 tries. No biggie? Guess again. There is loose pea gravel before the wall. A running jump won't work, no traction. The wall itself is smooth, with an inclined edge on top, that lends no handholds. Another 5 or 6 gone. Last one finishes, then it is time for sit-ups. I had to do 35. This one I breezed, and I think all others did too. Finally we had to do a strength test. Bench press atleast 88-135% of your weight. I didn't have a problem with this, but 2 of the 4 females did. Out. This was before they even had an application from us. No background checks yet, nothing. Who knows. On paper it doesn't sound like much, but reality was, it was harder than I gave it credit for. I will be damned if I let age, or some physical demand stop me. If nothing else, I wanted to prove it to myself, and give it my all. So as I said from the beginning. If you want it, go for it, but go 110%, and don't stop till they tell you to. Good luck, and let me know what happens. Mark
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If you are really serious about Phx PD, the one thing you should be concered about is your run time. For some reason, this is the biggest factor Phx PD looks at for candidates. I've got some good stories about some of the dumbest officers I have ever met. The only thing that they had in common, other than being incredibly stupid, is their run time. Their background investigators moved heaven and earth to get them waivers on certain things that would have disqualified them otherwise. ALEA itself isn't that hard, except for the runs. South Mountain is where you will do all your runs, and you will never be on the roads. You need to do some serious off road running up hills, especially on loose soil. Most reasons people got dropped from the program was due to injuries, not academics, and the injuries were all shin splints and twisted ankles. If you miss 5 days of PT in the 16 weeks, you are gone. A seriously twisted ankle can easily keep you form running for a week. The park you ran around, will not be your normal run track. You will only see that for two reasons, your PT tests, and your graduation week Cadre/recruit vollyball game. I almost typed a bunch of stuff, but then I realized that it wouldn't be fair to the other recruits in your class. Just suffice to say, keep your mouth shut, always give 100%, and when an instructor gives you a job to do pay attention to every little detail. If you fail in the slightest, you will become very familiar with the "Academy Trail", although it may have officialy been changed to the "Sean Carney memorial trail". The commandant of ALEA approved the name change, but I don't know if it was actually implemented.
Link Posted: 9/19/2002 10:45:40 PM EDT
Well, time will tell. My run times will improve as time goes on. I hadn't ran for years and still made it (barely). I am worried about their credit check probably most of all. As far as the hours and the stress, I have been working county psych for about 10-11 years at a pretty rough hospital. South Mountain was the grounds we tested at, and the facilities were impressive, for the most part. I had thought that they would use ALETA here in Tucson, but I guess that stopped years ago. You sound like you have "been there, done that", and I am always open to criticism and feedback, so thanks. Mark
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