3 Key Pieces of Advice for Rookie Police Officers

Being new to any job has a fair share of challenges. It is especially challenging to be a ‘rookie’ on the police force. Even with your academy training there’s still a lot to learn. You’ve got to deal with being the ‘new guy’ on the police force, as well as the demands of the job itself. It’s not easy, but every successful veteran had to do the same thing.

Here are three essential pieces of advice for making your rookie year on the police force a successful one:

DON’T ACT LIKE A KNOW IT ALL:

You learned a lot at the academy, but that represents only the ‘tip of the iceberg’ of everything that you need to know to be a first rate police officer. Strive to know the laws and rules you’ll be enforcing inside and out. Additionally, learn everything you can about department policies. This information is crucial for any police officer to know and by having fluency with this material you’ll be able to make quicker and better decisions in the field.

Another great educational resource is the veteran officers on your force. They’ve not only gone through the same training process that you have but have years of practical, ‘real world’ experience to go with it. Sometimes the surest way to get ahead at a new job is to just ‘listen and learn’ to the best and most experienced veterans. Don’t be afraid to ask questions–the majority of veteran officers take pride in helping rookies ‘learn the ropes’ of police work.

There’s a flip-side to this, however. While most veterans will provide good information and solid advice, it’s important to be objective and evaluate what is told to you. The worst thing you can do is give too much credence to bad advice. It’s also helpful for figuring out who knows what they’re talking about and who doesn’t. Knowing this will enable you to go to the right sources for advice in the future.

BE CONFIDENT, NOT COCKY:

Even though you’re new on the job, the worst thing that any police officer can do is not trust their judgment. Make the best decisions you can as quickly as you can and then stand behind them. You’ll quickly respect for decisive, proactive action, and that translates into earning the trust of your supervisors and colleagues. Being slow to react or afraid to make a decision not only shows a lack of confidence it can be extremely dangerous to you or your fellow police officers.

At the same time, humility is necessary. No matter how well you performed at the academy or how much you think you already know there’s still a lot more to learn. No one likes a ‘know it all’, and especially one that is new to the job. In most professions, it can make you unpopular or cost you the respect of your peers. In law enforcement, this attitude can jeopardize the lives of you and your fellow officers. It’s not easy to find the right degree of confidence without gaining a reputation for being ‘cocky’ but doing so can help you immensely as a rookie police officer.

CHARACTER MATTERS:

The best police officers aren’t just good at their jobs–they also have the strength of character that makes them positive role models to their colleagues and the citizens they serve. If you’re the type of person who has no problem ‘cutting corners’ to get ahead there’s a good chance you’re in the wrong line of work.

As a rookie officer, it’s essential to build the habit of being truthful and accountable. If you do something wrong it might be possible to lie about it, shift blame or cover it up. Don’t do it. Owning up to mistakes is not only the right thing to do but will quickly make you a highly respected member of the force. They’ll not only admire you for your character but want to work with you due to their confidence that you’re a solid individual that will do what’s right.

In addition, try to keep a cool head at all times. Having control of your emotions is essential when working in the field or with the public, but it’s also important in dealing with the people in your department. Police officers are notorious for making life difficult on the rookies. Just remember it’s nothing personal, just part of the process of becoming a veteran police officer.

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