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Posted: 2/22/2006 9:44:26 AM EDT
So, I'm thinking about becoming a cop......

I've had this itch for as long as I can remember............early childhood.

I grew up in a home with a cop for a dad, so I've been around it my entire life. When he retired, and we moved to TN., he got a job at the Regional Police academy located near us. As a result, I've volunteered alot of time there, and it just keeps reminding me of my desire to persue a career in law enforcement.



Anyways, to make a longer story short.......

The job I have now is good, pays good, has flexible hours, brings me home alive every night, yada yada yada. However, it's REALLY boring, and I have NO interest in my line of work. The only reason I'm good at it is cause I deal with people, and I'm a people person.
If I take up law enforcement, I'll be getting roughly a $4-6k pay cut at least. However, I'll only be pinching pennies for about a year, until my wife graduates nursing school.

My theory is this..........


People tell you when you're growing up to persue your dreams, and be whatever you want to be, regardless of pay.
However, my theory has always been that sometimes life can't be a "bed of roses", and you should sometimes take the slightly less desireable job if it pays well and supports your family comfortably.

Am I wrong? Do I need to do this if it's really what I want?


I've seen a few cops on here before.........your opinions would be greatly appreciated. I know what I'm getting myself into, as well as my family. I'm just not sure if it's really worth putting us all through this, and losing so much pay, just to go play "cops and robbers" every night.


Opinions wanted.


Application deadlines are March 10, and the Civ. Serv. exam and physical test is mid April.

Link Posted: 2/22/2006 10:33:45 AM EDT
Here is my suggestion.....

Keep your current job and look for a department that has an auxiliary or reserve program.
Make sure you find one that will sponsor you to go through the academy to get a full LEO certification.

It could be tough to work your regular job and go through the academy at the same time, but it would allow you to maintain your current lifestyle without having to worry too much.

Your wife will still be able to finish up nursing school and do her internships and all that other stuff they have to g throug before getting a "real" nursing job....in the meantime you can be easing your way into a full-time LE job (if you end up liking what youe see of it).

The officers on my department that have had the most success in starting a career in LE (i.e. making it through FTO prgram and probationary period) are the ones that started out as auxiliary officers first.

Just my 2 cents based on what I have seen over the years....

Good luck!
Link Posted: 2/22/2006 10:48:29 AM EDT
Unfortunately, there's not many auxillary jobs around my area. The few that there are, I would only be willing to work for one of the departments. That particular department is about as hard to get an aux. position with, as it is a full-time position.

So, in short, the auxillary isn't exactly an option for me right now.


In regards to what you mentioned about the academy, and time off there............
The department in which I'm applying will pay you your regular pay while you're in the academy. So, going to the academy isn't a big issue either.


One thing i just found out that's a real bummer...... My wife called as I was typing this and says that she heard we have to live within 15 miles of the central point of the city. Unfortunately, I live roughly 5 miles just outside of city limits.
I'm hoping this is something that might be a waivering rule. I'll have to look into it further.
Link Posted: 2/22/2006 11:24:47 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Toydeluxe:
So, I'm thinking about becoming a cop......

I've had this itch for as long as I can remember............early childhood.

Opinions wanted.

Application deadlines are March 10, and the Civ. Serv. exam and physical test is mid April.



How old are you? With the March 10th deadline upcoming, are you prepared to make a life changing decision in the next two weeks? If you are in your early 20's, then you have time to let your wife get out of school and get settled. Why the rush? Civil Service tests are given at least yearly. If you are in your 30's or later, I can see the need to make a decision a lot sooner.

How does your family really feel about it? I would be worried if they were reluctantly accepting of your choice but not totally behind your decision. On the other hand, if they encourage the move and back you all the way it would seem a lot better.

Do you really want to do what it takes to be a cop (hours, stress, disgusting situations, etc) or just want to play "cops and robbers"? It does take the cops and robbers attitude to some extent but is this just a childhood dream that you are trying to act out or are you seriously thinking about a career change for life and a career that will change your life.

How much hardship is the $4-6K paycut going to effect your family? Will your wife getting out of nursing school and getting a job make this more of a moot point, especially if you wait?

Are you ready to start working different shifts according to the agency's schedule? If you are not already working shift work, you might find that it takes a lot more time away from your family than you are ready to give up.

Have you explored different agencies and not just the one that is giving a test in April? As trippletap said, maybe a nearby agency has a reserve or auxiliary program that can let you ease into police work and give you a chance to back out without losing what you already have. A lot of areas, like mine, just don't have such programs so it is not an issue. Some may pay a lot more than others and it will offset some of the pay loss.

That is obviously a lot of questions and no real answers. Only you can provide those. My opinion is that if your family backs you on your decision and it will not cause a lot of family hardship, then go for it. Before you make the decsion just be sure everyone knows what is upcoming. It can be a fairly stressful job and a lot more in the beginning. I have seen a fairly substantial percentage of officers break off an engagement or get a divorce during or immediately after training.

I hope you can make the right decision and would welcome you into police work if that is what you decide.
Link Posted: 2/22/2006 8:24:21 PM EDT



How old are you?

24


With the March 10th deadline upcoming, are you prepared to make a life changing decision in the next two weeks?


As I mentioned above.........it won't be a decision to make on the 10th....that's just a gathering of exams. The time to decide will be in April. Furthermore, this isn't just a spur of the moment thing. I've been thinking about this off and on seriously for over 10 years. I've known about this hiring date for a couple months or more, and recently decided to act on it.


If you are in your early 20's, then you have time to let your wife get out of school and get settled.


How do you figure that? In a day and age where competition in the work world is cut throat, there is no such thing as "having time" to kill. The earlier you get started the better you prepare yourself for retirement, the more money/time you have in a retirement plan, and the list goes on. If I hire now, I'll be hired right around my 25th birthday in June. Add 20 years to that, and I'll be eligible for retirement around age 45. Alot of LEOs are doing 30 year terms now-a-days, so that puts me at 55 , the average age of retirement. I think my timing is perfect.


Why the rush? Civil Service tests are given at least yearly.

That doesn't mean they're hiring yearly, and not all areas do offer it yearly. The department I'm looking at has alot of guys that were among a huge hiring back in 76 and 78, and many of them are due to retire in the next 2-5 years. That means if I get in now, and get 2-5 years under my belt, these guys will be retiring right about the time I might be eligible for a promotion. Once again, I think my timing is perfect.


How does your family really feel about it? I would be worried if they were reluctantly accepting of your choice but not totally behind your decision. On the other hand, if they encourage the move and back you all the way it would seem a lot better.


My wife is my only immediate family, and she supports whatever makes me happy. She's a little worried that I'll turn out like my dad, and somewhat hardnosed, and doubting everyone I come across. However, that has nothing to do with being a cop, and if I stay unhappy where I'm at, it could happen just the same.
The only other family that would have a direct opinion is my parents. My mom, on the outside, wouldn't want to see me be a cop, after seeing what my dad went through. However, deep down, she would be happy if it's what I truly want, and I know she'd be proud. The thing that she forgets to realize is that my dad was working in a much different area than where I'll be. I don't doubt the fact that there is the potential danger of serious injury or death in ANY city, but we're talking about the difference between an area of over a million people versus an area of roughly 100k.


Do you really want to do what it takes to be a cop (hours, stress, disgusting situations, etc) or just want to play "cops and robbers"? It does take the cops and robbers attitude to some extent but is this just a childhood dream that you are trying to act out or are you seriously thinking about a career change for life and a career that will change your life.


I appreciate your concern, but I'm assuming you didn't read my original post carefully. I'm fully aware of what's involved. I know that there will be times that I might walk around a corner right into the barrel of a gun. I understand that I might go to a home where a child has been beaten, and burned alive by his parents. I understand that there will be times where a woman is beaten nearly to death by her husband, and then decides to fight me when I attempt to arrest her husband.
I understand there are times where I'm supposed to get off work at 7AM, and get stuck working an accident or some other case til 9AM. The list goes on, and while I may have not seen it all myself, I'm fully aware that each and every night presents new dangers, and new hardships. However, it also presents new chances for me to help the public. It presents a new chance for me to save someone's life from a criminal's hands. It presents a chance for me to save an unconscious victim from a burning car, while risking my personal well-being. It presents a chance for me to talk people, and lead them away from a life of drugs, or whatever negative addictions they might have.
There's alot of cons that people like to point out..........but there's alot of rewards in this line of work as well.


How much hardship is the $4-6K paycut going to effect your family? Will your wife getting out of nursing school and getting a job make this more of a moot point, especially if you wait?


Next fall, she has exactly one school year left of school, and she will be able to get a full-time nursing job starting out AT LEAST for $35-40k. Given the fact we started living together on my income of only $22k when we first met, I'm not to worried about our ability to survive. We have a new house now which presents a larger responsibility and larger amount of bills. However, I think that one year is doable. Once she graduates, even with the measly salary I'd make as a cop, we'd still be making more overall than we've ever seen before. It's just one year of tightening down the finances.


Are you ready to start working different shifts according to the agency's schedule? If you are not already working shift work, you might find that it takes a lot more time away from your family than you are ready to give up
.
I already work mids right now, and I enjoy it. There are some weeks in the month in which I work all different hours. Even when I'm not required, I often switch my sleep habits during the week from nights to days to be able to spend more time with my wife.
I can assure you I know how shift changes can be.
I remember when I was in high school, and my dad was a shift commander. He worked a relief shift which meant he was the LT that covered for all the other LTs weekends. That meant he worked 2 mids, then 2 evenings, then 1 day shift, all in one week. It sucks, but that's life as a cop.


Have you explored different agencies and not just the one that is giving a test in April? As trippletap said, maybe a nearby agency has a reserve or auxiliary program that can let you ease into police work and give you a chance to back out without losing what you already have. A lot of areas, like mine, just don't have such programs so it is not an issue. Some may pay a lot more than others and it will offset some of the pay loss.

Once again, I'm assuming you haven't read my posts carefully. I will not settle for other departments. I'm a person that strives to be the best, therefore, I only want to work with the best in our area. There IS one other city that is comparable, and is actually closer, but I'm going to try my hardest to get hired with my first pick.
There is no doubt in my mind I can meet the requirements on the civil service exam, and the physical exam. I'm even fairly confident that I will score among the top 25 that is required for hire. However, my goal is to be the best, if not the top 5 of everyone. That is the personal requirement that I've set for myself.


That is obviously a lot of questions and no real answers. Only you can provide those. My opinion is that if your family backs you on your decision and it will not cause a lot of family hardship, then go for it. Before you make the decsion just be sure everyone knows what is upcoming. It can be a fairly stressful job and a lot more in the beginning. I have seen a fairly substantial percentage of officers break off an engagement or get a divorce during or immediately after training.



And you've brought out some very good points.
However, regarding divorce.............my parents are still going strong after 30yrs of marriage, after 30 yrs of dad as a cop, after 3 years in VICE, 2 years in NARC, and a couple more decades on the street. He only worked inside for a year of the 30 he was employed. That is a set standard that I have set for myself. Regardless of careers, or hardships, one thing my wife and I agreed on when we got married is that divorce will NEVER be an option. No matter how much we hate each other and get frustrated, committment is what holds a marriage together over anything else.


I hope you can make the right decision and would welcome you into police work if that is what you decide.

Thank you
Link Posted: 2/23/2006 2:41:29 AM EDT
Sounds like it's what you want dude, go for it. I think that''s the decision you're going to make anyway. I lost about 4k a year the day I took the job and don't regret it.
Link Posted: 2/23/2006 10:09:50 AM EDT
I'm a little worried about this distance thing........

I'm hoping that the HR lady was wrong. She was talking like I had to be within 15 miles of the city's center. That sorta doesn't make sense since the "take-home car" limit is 5 miles outside the city limits. Those numbers would cancel each other out since they're two different permiters, and anyone worrying about the car limit already exceeds the first limit.

Anyways, as suggested by a friend that works there, I'm going to go through with the app. process anyways and see what happens.

I'm a little frustrated right now. I should be training my ass off, but I'm battling a cold right now, and the weather outside sucks as well. I'm not bad sick, but what little I have on top of the chilly,rainy weather would be sure to have my down and out. I've been at least hitting the weights some more in my basement.
I need to be practicing some long runs, and some short shuttle runs. I figure I could jump rope in the basement, and that'd give me a little bit of cardio.


So far, what little I've heard about the phys. agility test........

1mile run in less than 15min...........I'll bury that test. I used to run it in 6min. in high school.
Drag a 200lb. dumy 30 ft., and something else with it...........not sure how I'd do on that.
Obstacle course, which includes a balance beam, tire shuttle run, and some various walls........easy.
Pushups -- can't remember the limit there.
Situps -- I think it's 35 in a minute .............no prob.....I can do that out of shape.

I'm not sure what else is involved. I may find out more this week when I turn in the app.
Link Posted: 2/23/2006 10:26:02 AM EDT
If you've sat down with your wife and gone through the pros and cons of the career change and this is something you want to do then I say go for it.

My father was the kind of guy that didn't pursue his "dream job" and instead took a job that took care of his family. And although he is a very happy man in regards to his family he has never liked the work he does and is miserable with it.

I've always felt that I should be happy with what I'm doing and not just with the pay. People can live off of any income as long as there is an income to speak of.

4 - 6K cut in salary is that a year or a month? If its a month then you need to start saving now for the budget restraints lol.

WhenI transferred to the department I am with now I took a HUGE pay cut. My wife and I sat down and looked at the money we were losing (about 40K a year) and crunch the numbers. We decided it would be hard but that we could survive the change.

Now two years later we're still doing fine financially and my wife just finished her nursing school as well. Now once she starts at her hospital we will surpase my previous salary.

You have to be happy with what you do.. If you aren't it shows at home.. Same is reversed..

This may not be for everyone but if you get it under your skin you will love every minute of it! The good and the bad!

Go
Link Posted: 2/23/2006 11:05:03 AM EDT
It's roughly a $4-6k a year cut.

The PD starts at $28

I cleared just under $35k this year, which is pretty good for this neck of woods. My pay waivers with the current job. When I was hired, they guaranteed at least $29k, and then some commissions would be assumable. I'm not sure how well I'll do this year. I've lost some business, and gained some business. There's also the chance I could take over a friend's route, if he gets promoted. That means some better commissions.

Alot of this decision also depends on my friend's promotion, right now. We were supposed to know a month ago, and we're waiting to find out any day now. To make a long story short, if he gets promoted, that opens alot of opportunities up for me, cause he will eventually be the manager of our area, and I could get promoted. However, if he doesn't I could be stuck in my current position for a long time.


I'm kinda in the same boat you mentioned..............once the wife graduates, we'll have more money than we did to start, in the first place.
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