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Preparing for a Law Enforcement Career

Fitness

Physical Fitness is a critical component of a successful Law Enforcement Career.  Maintaining your physical fitness will help to lower stress, prevent injury, and increase career longevity.

Education

The Sacramento Police Department requires potential police officer candidates to possess 60 semester or 90 quarter units from an accredited university or college. Applicants will receive 25 semester units in the Police Academy, which can be applied towards the 60 unit requirement. Applicants that are short the required units at the time of graduation will be appointed as a Limited-Term Community Service Officer. These units do not have to be focused on a Criminal Justice or Administration of Justice major. Some of the various degrees currently held by SPD officers are: Communications, Business, History, and Horticulture. Writing and comprehension of the English language are crucial for today's law enforcement officer. People underestimate how important writing is to a law enforcement employee. Many candidates are screened out for poor grammar, punctuation and spelling.

Drug and Alcohol Usage

Getting involved in alcohol and drugs will put you in a bad situation, regardless if you get arrested or not. The life choices you make at an early age will shape your future. Stay away from drugs and alcohol, and stay away from "friends" that do not respect your future aspirations. You are responsible for the choices you make in your life, make sure they are the right choices. Alcohol use is a drug that leads to a whole lot of disqualifying areas. For example: fighting, DUI’s, missing work, and poor health.

Driving Record

Agencies look at the number of tickets you have received, your vehicle accidents and license suspensions. Also, a disqualifying area is failure to carry proper insurance.

Credit History

Be responsible with your finances. Pay your bills on time and do not show irresponsibility by amassing a large debt in relation to your take-home income. A check of your credit history is conducted as a part of your background investigation. Even if you have bad credit, take the necessary steps to show that you are responsible enough to rectify the situation. (You can contact a non-profit, consumer credit counseling service to help you manage your debt.) Do not go to credit repair agencies looking for a quick fix on a bad credit report. Many of these "credit doctors" recommend illegal (felony) ways to obtain new credit and will sink you further in financial trouble. It is wise to check your credit history with the three major credit agencies to verify its authenticity. According to credit counselors, more than half of the credit reports have inaccurate information.

Employment History

Your conduct on the job is a factor when the Police Department considers you for potential employment. Be professional at your job and work well with your co-workers and management. While you may not get along with everyone, staying professional can earn you the respect of your co-workers and supervisors. Even a job working in the fast food industry will help you develop interpersonal skills with the public that is necessary for a job in law enforcement. Remember, we communicate with people from all walks of life, and must maintain a professional demeanor. You can develop necessary communication skills at every job you work.

Honesty

Sure it’s an old fashion phrase, but many candidates are eliminated for stealing or lying. If a person is not honest, he/she has no business being a police department employee.  Peer pressure is a very powerful force, but the real test for a person is the ability to be true to his/her values.