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I put in an application to take the law-enforcement entry exam today. I'm going to try and join the Michigan State Police. I think being a State Trooper will be something that I enjoy doing, and while I don't know much about the job, getting my foot in the door will give me the option. I don't have much of a resume though. Basically the only thing I could put down is my High School Diploma, 6 years of work at the same business, and my CCW. I have't got much to show for myself right now, so I'm going to talk to a recruiter to see if I even have a shot.

Currently have a dead end job that will get me no where, and I've been waiting for almost a year to get hired into General Motors as a temporary employee. They've been stringing me along since last December. It's been a long silent process for a job that could last as little as a week, or as long as 5 years from what I've heard talking to GM employees. The plan is to hope for a permanent position, as GM does have a preference to hire temps as permanent employee's depending on your performance and luck. The whole thing is uncertain, and has been frustrating to say the least.

Anyone have any advice, or experience that they can share with me about joining law enforcement?
 

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I put in an application to take the law-enforcement entry exam today. I'm going to try and join the Michigan State Police. I think being a State Trooper will be something that I enjoy doing, and while I don't know much about the job, getting my foot in the door will give me the option. I don't have much of a resume though. Basically the only thing I could put down is my High School Diploma, 6 years of work at the same business, and my CCW. I have't got much to show for myself right now, so I'm going to talk to a recruiter to see if I even have a shot.

Currently have a dead end job that will get me no where, and I've been waiting for almost a year to get hired into General Motors as a temporary employee. They've been stringing me along since last December. It's been a long silent process for a job that could last as little as a week, or as long as 5 years from what I've heard talking to GM employees. The plan is to hope for a permanent position, as GM does have a preference to hire temps as permanent employee's depending on your performance and luck. The whole thing is uncertain, and has been frustrating to say the least.

Anyone have any advice, or experience that they can share with me about joining law enforcement?
Well...can't comment much on the LE job but if it doesn't go anywhere, go talk to an armed forces recruiter. There's plenty of jobs that provide training and skills you can't get anywhere else and it should make you marketable outside the military...even if you only do the minimum service obligation. The Army has dumped a lot of training into me and if draw down takes a turn for the worst and they no longer need me, I have plenty of other opportunities.

CMS
 

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Well...can't comment much on the LE job but if it doesn't go anywhere, go talk to an armed forces recruiter. There's plenty of jobs that provide training and skills you can't get anywhere else and it should make you marketable outside the military...even if you only do the minimum service obligation. The Army has dumped a lot of training into me and if draw down takes a turn for the worst and they no longer need me, I have plenty of other opportunities.

CMS
+1 on the recruiter, many LE jobs these days are going to veterans.
 

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Pretty hard to get in the door if you don't have education in criminal justice and or LEO experience....especially with so many military personnel getting out with both. I concur with the others give the military a go....

I don't know what the recruiting situation is in the different branches now with the draw downs and all but you really can learn a trade that will transfer to civilian life. I did 4 yrs in USMC as a Electronics Tech. Hawk Missile Systems back in the 80's and have worked as a Tech in industry for the last 30 yrs.
 

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I would go talk to a Military recruiter as others have said.

The Army has sent me all over the world, and given me life long financial security.

Based on your age, you might look at an Army Special Forces contract. If you dont make the SF part, then you become Airborne Infantry, which is still not a bad life. It will give you job experience, money for college while you are in, and pay for a 4 year degree after you get out.

The Army also has PAYS, which is guaranteed civilian job interview after your term of service is over. Often times, there are bigger LE agencies. Normally, the bigger ones are easier to get into (due to turnover) and have better pay.
 

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Good luck to you, first of all. Deciding you want something better for yourself is to be applauded.

Talk to the Police recruiter and find out what type of people they are looking for before getting discouraged. Any civil service job worth having is going to be a tough one to get. It may turn in to a long term project to get there, but you can get there if you stick to it. It may mean night school for a couple of years, or being a reserve officer in a smaller dept for a while, but if that is what it takes then that is what you have to do.
 

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You're getting some excellent advice up above.
I owe everything in my life to the U.S. Army. They took me in, let me finish college and gave me a skill (MP and then CID). That led to my civilian job. I stayed with the Army Reserve and just passed 30 years total service.
Basically for a LE job you need one or more of the following: college degree, military experience or coming from a LE related field.
Talk to the recruiters and then come up with a plan!
 

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See if your local department has a Citizens Police Academy and if so, sign up for it. It'll give you some idea of what a patrol officer does.

Veteran's preference does count a lot towards getting hired by most agencies, but it isn't absolute. Only about a quarter or less of the SAPD cadets I help train are prior military. It helps, but don't think it is essential. Some departments are in such need of officers that they are recruiting heavily.

Good luck! M2
 

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Border Patrol was heavily recruiting a while back...Spanish a must however.
 

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Border Patrol was heavily recruiting a while back...Spanish a must however.
If that is your choice, don't let that discourage you. Everyone goes through a standardized Spanish language program. I'd say 40% of the people I work with don't even have a moderate level of proficiency. The others are of course of Hispanic descent and grew up speaking it. As a non native speaker, I'd say my Spanish is pretty decent. Just don't have time to hone it.

Your question is a little too general especially since there are many differences amongst whether you're talking federal, state, or local. Joining the military like others have said may be a good choice for your also, even if it's just the Reserves. I'll try to get back to you later.
 

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1) Most of your big name prestigious federal agencies require a minimum bachelor's degree to even be considered. Contrary to popular belief, for these agencies, a criminal justice degree is not worth a whole lot. The FBI for example seeks out business degrees, accounting, sciences, etc. I have a criminal justice degree and I can tell you it doesn't weigh much. USBP does not require a degree but you will more than likely have to relocate to the SW border area and the possibility of a transfer is very difficult. I think CBPOs are a lot more forgiving in hiring and lateral movements, but it likely isn't the kind of law enforcement you had in mind. You'll be standing at a POE, airport, or shipyard inspecting vessels, vehicles, receiving travelers, etc. all day. Your state and local departments vary on whether there is a requirement for a degree or age. You'll have to find that out on your own.

2) As others have said, prior service is very beneficial but is not necessary. Veteran's preference is weighed heavily and is often the deciding factor amongst comparable applicants.

3) If you end up wearing a badge and or uniform for a living, understand that some people will hate you just for that reason alone. Some people out there will wish you harm and will act on their wishes. Luckily, the former is uncommon and the latter even more so.

4) It depends on what you end up doing, and I don't think it applies so much to state police, but try not to bring the job home with you.

5) Don't let the bureaucracy of your institution lower your morale and sidetrack you from the importance of the mission or detract from your service to your community or country.
 

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Great comments, CGSteve, right on the mark.

I would only add that the OP should try to go on a few ride-alongs with his local department before making a final decision. It will give you some valuable insight as to what an "average" day for an officer is like. There are a lot of great aspects of the job but also a lot of stressful ones as well.
 

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Yugom5966,

I've been in local level LE for 7 years. It is an interesting job to say the least. Might want to do a handful of ride alongs. Not just a few hours but full shifts. Also if you hate typing or doing reports then it's not the job for you. I use to have shitty typing skills but the job forced me to improve. If you have any questions, shoot me an IM. I have handled just about every type of call at one time or another (shootings, stabbings, rapes, robberies, riot, burglarys, booting doors, accidents, neighbor's dog shit in my yard, so on and so on)
 

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Yeah I have to hand it to the local guys. My job has its own dangers but unless you're on certain gigs, when you're done you're done. There definitely isn't much to take home like you local guys. I guess I'm talking about local PDs in major cities in particular. I am originally from Philadelphia and I could not even imagine dealing with the people there for about $40k a year.

Good point majormadmax. Like everything else, Hollywood has given a very false perception of law enforcement. Everything is either balls to the wall or it's gotta be about some dirty cop in order to be interesting. A large portion of LE is very mundane, if not downright boring.
 

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There are large parts that are boring. A lot of it depends on how proactive you are. That's also why I suggested to ride along for the entire shift. You can ride for just the busy times depends on the shift mine is 9pm to 3am. But then you need to watch as they do reports for a few hours that cover the calls they have just been on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I ended up getting a full shift ride along with a deputy at our county PD. Overall it was exactly what I thought it would be like, and we even had a guy take off on foot after we got a report of theft and rolled up on them as they were driving away. Kind of a slow day otherwise, and the deputy that I rode with was only supposed to be traveling back roads and doing traffic stops/accident reports. I think I'm going to try to get another ride along with somebody that responds to everything.

From the guys I've been talking to, it looks like I won't get anywhere without going to school for an associates degree or more. I plan to talk to a recruiter soon, and see if I can get some federal aid to go back to school. I do appreciate all the replies, I've read through them a few times. Not really too big on joining the military at the moment, but I'm only 22 so I've got plenty of time left to change my mind.
 

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................ Not really too big on joining the military at the moment, but I'm only 22 so I've got plenty of time left to change my mind.
A bit of advice, if you have any notion of going into the military, the younger you are the better off you will be. 18-22 is the prime age bracket of most recruits in basic. Older than that, you start to be the odd guy out because age and maturity wise, your peers in basic will have a harder time relating to you and the younger guys immaturity will grate on you.

22 will become 30 in the blink of an eye. Time to change your mind will be a shrinking luxury if you dilly dally around with no long range game plan being executed now. It's a tough market for LEO's and while an associate may get your application in the door, people with a Bachelors will pushing your application to the bottom.

Lastly and I speak from experience going through the application process for the Tennessee State Police back in the early 1990's, you can have the education and even with veterans preference points added on top of your test score be at super maximum, that can and will be put to the wayside if they have minority quota to fill and you are not in that group.
 

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State law enforcement usually requires a higher level of education than local law enforcement. my step Son is applying all over the state and has an associate degree in criminology and is working toward his bachelors. been to allot of interviews but nothing yet.
 

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I don't know about Michigan but Illinois now requires a 4 year degree to be hired but when I was hired in 1988 an Associate in LE was preferred but not required. A lot of governments are a financial mess and Illinois is at the top and Michigan may not be to far behind. I know Illinois has screwed new employees with their changes to pensions and are trying to make deep cuts in salaries.

It it is amazing how many people apply for law enforcement jobs and can't pass the physical agility and back ground checks. A lot of applicants will miss a mandatory step in the process and have to start over. My daughter is currently a Trooper and the competition for her was easy compared to males. When I got hired in 1988 they had approximately 10,000 take the written test, 75% of those were white males. My class started out with 100 cadets, 50 white males, 25 minority males and 25 females. My class ended up graduating 83 but they even called in 5 extras after people quit in the first day or two. Most State Police Academies are 25 to 27 weeks long and similar to military boot camp. Being a Trooper is a great job but your basically signing your life away to the state. They tell you you have to work, you work. You work a lot of nights and weekends and very rarely get holidays off. You may get sent to any part of the state for who knows how long. There is a certain amount of risk and it is plain dangerous to work as a road trooper in inclement weather.
 
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