Let’s face facts: not everyone is cut out for a career in law enforcement. It is a difficult and sometimes dangerous job that requires making the right decision in a matter of seconds. It requires the ability to interface with the administration above you and the citizens you serve. It’s a job that requires discipline, commitment and skill. Just having the ‘right tools’ for the job is not enough, however. No matter how badly you want a career in law enforcement these personality characteristics suggest that it might not be a good fit for you.
1. YOU ARE A ‘HOT HEAD':
A bad temper can hold you back in most professions but in law enforcement it can be fatal. Law enforcement requires a cool head and the ability to demonstrate ‘grace under pressure’. The ideal candidate can make the right decision quickly. That’s no easy task, and sometimes even the best officers make the wrong call. Even so, there’s a big difference between making an incorrect decision after deliberation and doing something stupid after ‘flying off the handle’. If you’re the type of person that ‘acts first and thinks later’ you’re likely not suited to a career in law enforcement.
2. YOU DON’T LIKE TAKING ORDERS:
With the possible exception of the military, there is likely no career path worse for someone that doesn’t like authority than law enforcement. The ability to follow orders and work within a hierarchical chain of command is essential for every law enforcement officer. There are plenty of good careers that allow you to work independently without supervision–where you can ‘be your own boss’. Law enforcement is not one of them.
3. YOU DON’T LIKE WORKING WITH PEOPLE:
Some people prefer to ‘work on their own’, and there are many jobs and careers that not only allow, but reward this kind of autonomy. Law enforcement, on the other hand, requires the ability to work well as part of a team. An officer has to not only work with his colleagues as a team but deal effectively with the citizens he serves. The inability to work with and for a variety of people is a clear indication that your personality isn’t conducive to a law enforcement career.
4. YOU DON’T HANDLE STRESS WELL:
Law enforcement is a difficult job and the ability to manage difficult situations effectively is a prerequisite. People who have a serious problem dealing with stress are seldom interested in law enforcement, and that’s a good thing for everyone concerned. We’ve already discussed the importance of having control over your temper but no matter the adverse reaction to stress it’s not going to lead to law enforcement success. ‘Cool, calm and collected’ is an ideal personality trait for the aspiring law enforcement officer.
5. YOU DON’T DEAL WELL WITH DIFFERENT ETHNIC GROUPS:
Our country has always been a multi-ethnic society, and the ability of a law enforcement officer to interface with a variety of ethnic groups is only going to become more important in the coming years. This ability is not only a job requirement for working in some jurisdictions with sizable ethnic populations, but also for performing well within an increasingly diverse law enforcement organization. The problem caused by out and out racial prejudice goes without saying, but just ‘not feeling comfortable’ among different races speaking a variety of languages is going to be an issue for any law enforcement officer.
6. YOU ARE EASILY MANIPULATED:
A law enforcement officer must perform his duties objectively by a clearly defined set of criteria. For this reason, an individual who is ‘easily manipulated’ just isn’t cut out for a law enforcement career. In this line of work, you’ll be exposed to countless manipulation attempts including the extreme examples of bribery and the offer of sexual favors. It is imperative that an officer has the strength of character to remain above any manipulation effort they may face. The ideal candidate has a strong set of ethical convictions that doesn’t allow for easy manipulation.
7. YOU ARE AFRAID OF CONFLICT:
Conflict is inevitable for any law enforcement officer. If you can’t deal with conflict situations, you’re just not cut out for a career in law enforcement. The flip side of this is also bad–deliberately trying to find or provoke conflict. The ideal mindset for a law enforcement officer is to try and avoid or defuse potential conflict situations. If and when it does arise, however, they must do their job confidently and effectively no matter how difficult the circumstances.