February 25, 2020

AZ Big Media

Keeping Arizona safe: Is a career in law enforcement right for you?

Responsible for protecting members of the public and our communities, police forces play an integral role in the state. As well as maintaining public order and upholding justice, law enforcement agencies are also major employers in Arizona.

Currently, there are around 15,000 sworn-in police officers serving Arizona and over 160 different law enforcement agencies within the state. However, not all law enforcement personnel are police officers or work on the front line. Support staff, forensics specialists, and victim support workers are just an example of the range of job opportunities within law enforcement.

With the vast majority of state police forces actively looking for new recruits, law enforcement is a viable career path for many people. If you’re considering joining your local police force, read on to find out if a career in law enforcement is right for you.

What Is a Law Enforcement Career?

To determine whether you’re well-suited to a career in law enforcement, it’s important to understand exactly what it involves. Becoming a police officer is, perhaps, the most widely recognized law enforcement career. On a day-to-day basis, police officers perform a wide range of tasks, such as:

• Responding to emergencies

• Interviewing witnesses and suspects

• Maintaining public order

• Securing crime scenes

• Undertaking community outreach

• Monitoring road networks and highways

• Delivering citations

• Patrolling neighborhoods

• Controlling traffic

• Arresting suspected offenders

• Undertaking searches

• Collecting evidence

• Completing incident reports

As you can see, police officers undertake a wide variety of duties and have a range of responsibilities. Many people enjoy working in a fast-paced and changing environment, which makes law enforcement a fulfilling career choice. If you work best under pressure and want to avoid a repetitive role, then becoming a police officer may the ideal law enforcement career for you.

Of course, there are numerous other roles within law enforcement. If you don’t want to work on the front line, this won’t prevent you from building a successful career within the industry. Other jobs within the sector include:

• Crime Analysts

• Forensics Specialists

• Ballistics Experts

• Forensic Psychologists

• Loss Prevention Specialists

• Computer Investigators

• Victim Advocates

• Emergency Services Dispatchers

Although these are civilian roles, they are integral to the process of solving crimes, apprehending offenders, and making communities safer. The range of specialties needed within law enforcement agencies highlights the range of opportunities open to new recruits. If you have a tech background, for example, you may want to pursue a career as a computer investigator with one of the police forces here in Arizona. Alternatively, if you have science-based training and qualifications, you could begin a career as a blood splatter analyst, ballistics expert or crime scene investigator.

In addition to these roles, there is also a range of job opportunities within professional and support services. Law enforcement agencies require a high number of civilian staff to facilitate their work, so there are plenty of roles to explore. From administrative staff and HR specialists to logistics managers and training personnel; it takes a wide variety of expertise to ensure law enforcement agencies can function effectively.

With so many great career opportunities available, it’s easy to see why so many people consider working for law enforcement. As well as fulfilling entry-level positions, joining law enforcement means you can look forward to climbing the career ladder and taking on increasing amounts of responsibility.

Career Development Within Law Enforcement

Following your initial appointment, you will be provided with on-the-job training and professional support. Whether you’re a sworn police officer, a crime scene analyst or a member of the administrative team, there are in-house training programs to help you develop the skills you need.

As you gain experience within your role, there will also be the opportunity to apply for promotions. If you want to take on a leadership role, for example, you can combine your professional experience with your theoretical knowledge to showcase your talents.

However, there can be a great deal of competition when it comes to securing the top jobs within law enforcement agencies. If you want to ensure your career is on the right path, you’ll need to do everything you can to show that you’re ready to lead a team, department or police force in Arizona.

One of the most effective ways to prepare yourself for future leadership roles is to undertake further study. When you complete a BA in Policing with Wilfrid Laurier University, for example, you will learn how to excel as a leader. Ideally suited for current or former law enforcement workers, this level of study at Wilfrid Laurier University enhances your knowledge and formalizes your knowledge. When it comes to applying for subsequent promotions, successfully completing a policing degree will help you to stand out from other candidates and highlight your suitability for leadership roles.

Graduating from this type of program can prepare you to take on senior roles within law enforcement agencies, such as:

• Detective

• Staff Sergeant

• Sergeant Major

• Superintendent

• Inspector

• Deputy Chief of Police

• Chief of Police or Chief Constable

However, a policing degree also prepares you for working in leadership roles outside of law enforcement. If you wish to diversify and work in a different sector, for example, the skills gained via postgraduate policing studies will be extremely transferable. While ex-law enforcement personnel are highly valued across a range of industries, having additional qualifications will only serve to increase your employability.

What Does It Take to Work in Law Enforcement?

Serving your community is a privilege and offers great job satisfaction. As you might expect, some law enforcement roles can be stressful and fast-paced. If you’re responding to emergencies as a police officer, for example, you will need to be calm, focused, and analytical. When dealing with victims and witnesses, you’ll need to show compassion and consideration. To complete the relevant paperwork efficiently, you’ll need to show great attention to detail and organization.

With so many facets to law enforcement roles, there is a range of skills and characteristics needed to help you perform well. While some people are naturally more suited to particular elements of their role, you will be given the training and support you need to help you develop the competencies you need.

There are some overarching traits that can mean you’re well-suited to working for law enforcement, however. These include:

Community-Minded

If you care about your community and you’re passionate about increasing safety within local neighborhoods, you have the makings of a successful law enforcement worker. Anyone who works for the police force is integral to serving the public and making communities safer. No matter what your role, when you work for a law enforcement agency you will have the opportunity to positively impact your community and the lives of the people who live within it.

Problem Solver

Natural problem solvers thrive in law enforcement. When you work for the police force, there are theoretical, strategic, and logistics problems to resolve. In fact, these will make up a significant proportion of your workload! Whether you’re defusing an argument, rerouting traffic or preserving evidence, you’ll be using your problem-solving skills to find the most effective solution in the shortest amount of time.

Calmness

Working for law enforcement means operating in a fast-paced environment. Depending on your specific role, you may deal with chaotic and stressful situations on a daily basis. Being able to remain calm and think logically, even in times of high stress, is one of the greatest attributes you can have. While training plays a large role in preparing you to function in stressful environments, people who are naturally calm and even-tempered are often well-suited to careers in law enforcement.

Communication Skills

When you join a police force or law enforcement agency, you will be required to communicate with a wide range of people. You may be on the front line instructing suspected offenders to surrender, supporting victims of crime as an advocate or liaising with police chiefs across the state to facilitate the strategic implementation of new policies. Being able to communicate effectively is critical to any law enforcement role, so it’s something you should certainly prioritize. If you are a good communicator and can work well with others, a role in law enforcement could be a great way to make use of your natural talents.

Beginning Your Career in Law Enforcement

If you’re committed to making Arizona a safer state, you may be considering a career in law enforcement. If so, there are plenty of ways to learn more about what your future career can offer. Although police forces have their own requirements and admission criteria, they always welcome interest from potential new recruits.

Perhaps you have a clear idea of what agency you want to work for or maybe you’re keeping an open mind. No matter how far along you are in the process of joining a law enforcement agency, it’s easy to access specialist information. With open days, online portals and Q&A sessions, you can find out more about joining the police and beginning your career in law enforcement.