Policing is a unique and demanding career, and recruiters only want the best of the best to apply. While training will prepare you for police work, you’ll be a better candidate if you already have some of the most essential skills. Before committing yourself to the long selection process, make sure you have what it takes to be a stellar police officer.
Good stress management
While much of police work is routine—sometimes even mundane—you won’t be patrolling without incident or filing paperwork all the time. Certain situations, like apprehending criminals or pursuing traffic offenders, can be incredibly stressful—physically and emotionally. When your job is to protect the public, you can’t afford to fold under pressure or make irrational decisions.
Police officers make decisions all the time: to chase or not to chase traffic offenders in busy areas; to charge, hold, and/or release suspects; what routes to take and which areas to patrol; which vehicles to stop, people to question, or activities to investigate; if it’s necessary to call for backup or emergency services— the list goes on and on. If you’re not comfortable making decisions, police work just isn’t for you.
As a police officer, you’re almost always in touch with other people. While working at the station you have to liaise with others. While patrolling, you’re always connected to dispatchers and emergency operators. You have to be able to give clear and concise instructions—like which documents people have to supply, asking armed suspects to drop their weapons, and threatening use of deadly force—ask and answer questions, and provide information. Communication skills also come in handy when asked to testify in court or speak at schools, conferences, or to media.
Play well with others
While many police duties are solitary, being able to work as part of a team is paramount to safe and successful police work. Police officers often coordinate and strategize with others to complete tasks or arrests. They also have to work with other professionals, such as emergency service workers, fire fighters, and educators.