Part of Lesson Plan: The Police Officer - The Application & Hiring Process
Activity Overview / Details
The next step in making this decision is to assess whether or not you can do the job. Each agency that advertises for candidates to apply for the position of police officer will list their requirements. The California Occupational Guides, which you can view through the Employment Development Department, lists the typical job requirements. They are:
- Be at least 18 years of age. (Most departments require 21 years of age).
- Pass the Peace Officer Standards and Training Entry-Level Law Enforcement Written Test to demonstrate reading and writing ability at the required levels. (You can view an online copy of the test at www.post.ca.gov. There is an applicant preparation guide at http://lib.post.ca.gov/Publications/poWrittenPracticeTest.pdf that contains the practice test.)
- Pass a physical agility test.
- Pass an oral interview.
- Be personally interviewed by the hiring authority to show maturity, communications skills, appearance, etc.
- Be a high school graduate or achieve satisfactory scores on the General Educational Development Test (GED) or the High School Proficiency Examination. (Some departments require a college education).
- Be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident alien who is eligible for and has applied for citizenship.
- Be of good moral character as determined by a thorough background investigation.
- Be fingerprinted and have a search of local, state, and national files for any criminal records.
- Have no felony convictions of any kind, and no misdemeanor convictions involving domestic violence.
- Be free from any physical limitations that would interfere with job performance. You will be medically evaluated by a physician.
- Pass a psychological screening examination conducted by a psychologist.
What Personal Skills Make a Good Police Officer?
The California Occupational Guides list the following:
Speaking- Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Critical Thinking- Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Active Listening- Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Social Perceptiveness- Being aware of other people's reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
Service Orientation- Actively looking for ways to help people.
Time Management- Managing one’s own time and the time of others.
Negotiation- Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.
Judgment and Decision Making- Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions and choosing the most appropriate one.
The above are skills; learned behavior. If you are evaluating your own suitability for law enforcement, consider the following attributes that the Career Occupational Guide says an officer should have. Attributes may be learned behavior or they may be intrinsic. They are:
Problem Sensitivity- The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
Oral Expression- The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Deductive Reasoning- The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
Oral Comprehension- The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Inductive Reasoning- The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
Speech Clarity- The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
To that list consider adding:
Courage and Self Confidence- Law enforcement can be a dangerous job. The nature of police work is conflict and confrontation. People call for the police when there is a conflict that they feel they cannot handle. With the conflict often comes high emotions and confrontation, so to the above list you should consider adding courage and self confidence. An example of courage and self confidence is the ability to think clearly and act under stress. Courage does not mean taking reckless actions. It means being able to think calmly in dangerous circumstances, and to choose a carefully considered course of action that does not shy away from difficult situations and protects lives, property and civil rights.
Assignment: Self Assessment
Read through the list of personal skills and attributes again. Pick three items and consider when you have used these skills or demonstrated these characteristics. You are looking for specific events as examples and proof that you have those attributes. Write the experiences down. Include one that you would feel comfortable sharing with the class provided it was done anonymously. Turn that one into the teacher.
Group Activity: Assessment
The teacher shuffles the student-submitted experiences and reads one aloud. Do not read the student name. Do not choose one where the circumstances make it easy for the class to figure out who submitted it. Ask the class, in discussion, to consider whether that experience demonstrates one or more of the skills or attributes. Ask the class what could be done for the person to build on that experience.