Police and law enforcement work involves specialized skills, ranging from human relations and diplomacy to physical strength and agility.
Apprehending a suspect requires a specific kind of knowledge, while interviewing a distraught victim requires another kind. Consequently, a well-rounded background education can provide you with the means to excel as an officer of the law.
Most officers are expected to have some college education, with a concentration in criminal justice or a related field.
Criminal justice programs typically cover basic law enforcement principles such as:
- Police Tactics
- Correctional Systems
- Criminal Courts
- Juvenile Law
These programs usually last from 9 months to two years, ending in a certificate or associate’s degree, and provide a solid educational foundation for graduates to become officers. (Click to see what schools are in your area.)
Besides classroom work, every law officer also undergoes a rigorous and challenging training regimen to make sure they’re up to snuff with their department’s standards.
Uniformed Officer Training
Uniformed officers, detectives and other police earn their badge by powering their way through a 12 to 14-week police academy.
Training varies depending on jurisdiction, but every academy involves strength and agility training, where troops are required to bench press a certain percentage of their body weight and undergo strength and stamina conditioning. Firearms training is also part of the regimen, with officers logging hours with handguns, shotguns and other weapons to achieve high accuracy standards. Officers also learn how to use a vehicle as a pursuit tool, using controlled skidding tactics, two-way radio work and crash avoidance techniques.
Federal Agent Training
Government agents have an even more rigorous training schedule. The FBI, for example, utilizes a 17-week training program at the FBI Academy based at the Marine Corps training facility in Quantico, VA. New agents pass a training program consisting of classroom learning, physical training and integrated scenarios, including the solving of a simulated case that results in several arrests.
A portion of FBI training takes place at the mock city training grounds known as Hogan’s Alley, where scenarios are carried out in a lifelike city setting. The firearms training is more involved as well, with agents becoming familiar with bureau submachine guns as well as handguns and shotguns.
These training programs are designed to give new law enforcement officers a feel for the dynamic and challenging situations they will face in their line of work, as well as to provide them with the physical and social skills they will need to be successful. It takes a disciplined mind and an able body to stand up to the demands of law enforcement training, which is why U.S. law enforcement agents are considered the finest.