By Chris Wagoner:
If people wanted to see things change, they would look at all the options and pinpoint where they could create change with a positive outcome. I hear it a lot in the news and on the internet, people ranting about how unfair justice is for this or that group. When I can, I engage them in a conversation asking them if they would like to be a part of the solution and not the problem. I see people rioting and destroying others property, and when confronted they cry injustice about how the system is unfair. So, I tell them, why not be a part of the solution? And the answer I often get is “Who me?”
Overseeing a large police academy in North Central Florida I see all kinds of students come through our doors. I wish more people who believe they could do a better job than those currently policing would try and make a difference in their community. Becoming a police officer is not as easy as many may think. Candidates must complete written exams, interviews, background investigations, polygraphs, psychological exams, and intense training. And this arduous process is just the beginning.
In Florida, police are trained at the college level. Anyone who has a decent background and does not do drugs can apply to become a police officer. You do not have to be hired by a police agency, contrary to other states, to go to most academies. You apply, take tests, and once you pass and qualify, you attend six months of training, eight hours a day. You learn everything about being a police officer to include pursuit driving, firearms, self-defense, physical fitness, first aid, communication skills, and not to mention The Law. Most tests have a passing rate of 80 percent or higher, while others, including defense tactics, require a perfect score to graduate. Finally, a state certification exam is administered with a passing grade of 80 percent required to be eligible to apply for a career in law enforcement.
Once ALL the previously mentioned tests and training is complete, you are now eligible to apply and hopefully be hired as a police officer. The next step is 16 weeks of on the job “field training officer” instruction. Once you pass this iteration the final leg in the process consists of one full year of probation. Manage that and you are now a fully vested law enforcement officer.
The pay for the work is not exactly even. You put on a firearm, wear a ballistic vest, carry all kinds of weapons, and are trusted to make the lawful decision to protect your community, even if that means taking a life to do so. In today’s world, you also get the added benefit of worrying about being ambushed and murdered just because of the profession you chose to feed your family. It is also one of the only professions that require making instantaneous life altering decisions, see things no one should ever have to, and do things no one should ever have to do. For that, you earn a solid blue collar wage which is often less than most office jobs.
Now don’t take this wrong, police work is not all doom and gloom. It can be very rewarding. I have delivered two babies, saved a few lives here and there, helped elderly women change flat tires, and recovered an old man’s only means of transportation and watched him cry as I pulled up to his house with his bike in the trunk of my patrol car. I have loved my job more than hated it.
So, you want to make a difference in your community and in the “system” that you believe to be broken? Then I challenge you to try and become a police officer in your community. Once you do, I urge you to make it a career spanning 25 years. The result: you may never be the same again.
Chris Wagoner is a Senior OpsLens Contributor and U.S. Army Veteran . He has been in law enforcement the last 35+ years. He specializes in LE Firearms Instruction, and is in charge of a large Police Academy in North Florida. In his spare time Chris is a freelance Military Reporter and owner/founder of the Largest Military Videos Channel on YouTube “3rdID8487”.