If you’re interested in becoming a law enforcement officer, you’re probably willing to do whatever it takes. Although it’s a lot of work, the important thing to remember is that with a little bit of planning, you can succeed. It’s important to train effectively. Knowing how to prepare for police academy training makes your preparation effective.
Only part of the training is physical. It’s true that you have to be in great shape to become a police officer, but that’s only half the battle. There are also a lot of laws that you have to learn. You also have to learn procedures, such as when you can use your weapon or how your employer expects you to respond in certain situations.
Here in this blog post, we will discuss what to expect when prepping for the law enforcement academy, and what regiment that you can employ right now to help you get a head start on other recruits.
How Long is The Law Enforcement Academy?
This question is a typical question that most would be police officers have before enrolling in the law enforcement academy. It is quite okay to ask your respective recruiter or potential employer how long you’ll actually be at the police academy.
Another good question to ask your recruiter would be how often are you allowed to go home during the law enforcement academy. Some academies are really strict on how often you are able to leave the training site, while others are really lax.
The first question I can answer really quickly for you. Depending on your state’s standards, the academy will be around 16-24 weeks. Usually larger metropolitan cities like Chicago, Los Angeles and New York may go a bit longer, but smaller cities are around 26-24 weeks long.
It is always best to review the state’s official website to know more about the exact length of time for the law enforcement academy. The duration of the academy is different from city to city and state to state. Therefore, it is best to ask your recruiter or visit your state’s official law enforcement website.
Each State Have Unique Training Requirements and Qualifications
Each state has laws that govern standards for police officers. Some of the states have very specific laws and others are more generic. Most states set a minimum age and education requirement. Age requirements typically range from 18 to 21. Education requirements are usually a high school or college degree. Even in cases where a college degree isn’t required, it certainly gives you a leg up over other candidates.
Expect to have to pass a physical test as part of the police training and certification process. You might also have to pass a polygraph test, too, to see if you are being truthful about what you said in your application paperwork. Check your state’s police training agency for the specific information to see if you measure up for police academy training.
Tests and Interviews
Most states and even specific police departments have tests that you need to pass in order to continue the process of becoming a law enforcement officer. Written tests are more common than oral tests, but they’re both possibilities for you. Both tests evaluate your communication skills, reasoning skills and knowledge of criminal laws.
To pass a written test, you need to show that you can read and understand what you read. Police officers have to read and write reports as part of the job. It’s important that they can communicate well in writing. You should speak English fluently to work in any police department in the United States, but if you speak a second language it’s a real plus, especially if that language is one that’s common in the area where you hope to work.
In addition to these tests, there are psychological tests that you have to pass as well. These are to ensure that you can handle the demands of law enforcement work in a professional way. You can’t have any significant mental health defect that could make you act in an inappropriate way towards the public, or that could cause you to handle the pressures of the job in a poor way towards yourself. These tests check for these things.
Physical Health Testing
Demonstrating physical fitness to work in law enforcement is more than just being able to run and do push ups. You also have to show that you are generally physically fit and free of physical health defects that interfere with your ability to do the job. If you have a physical issue that prevents you from running, operating a motor vehicle, or performing a takedown of an unruly arrestee, you’re not likely going to get approved for police academy training.
There are even tests for vision and hearing. The standards to pass can vary wildly from state to state and department to department. Some states have standards for corrected and uncorrected vision. Some require your vision to correct to 20/20 while other states are more lenient.
Check the Order of Testing
Some states don’t even let you start police academy training until you can pass a physical fitness test. Others want you to pass the test by the end of training, and still others by the time you begin work. This is true for all of the different things you’re evaluated on during the process.
You might attend police academy before you apply to work in law enforcement. Other times, you might get your job, and then the department sends you to their specific training. Usually large departments self-train, and you are hired before you train. Smaller departments usually want new hires that are already trained and certified. Check with the department where you want to work.
Training for Your Training
Most candidates that are ultimately successful in police academy training started their training long before they set foot in police academy. You should begin your preparation as soon as you know that you are serious about becoming a law enforcement officer. There are a lot of ways to get ahead.
In police academy training, you must show that you are competent with your service weapon. That means knowing how to handle it with care in order to prevent tragic accidents. You also have to make sure that you can shoot effectively and accurately.
For this skill, you likely don’t have enough time in police academy training to expect to master this skill there. It’s best to start early. The best way is to ask a friend who is in law enforcement or ask a friend who is a proficient marksman. You might also consider earning a Concealed Pistol License, or CPL.
They can also help you identify what specific weapon you need to know how to use. That way, you can train with the exact weapon that you need to master. This can give you a lot of confidence heading into police academy training.
Study Sample Tests
Sitting for a test is much less intimidating if you know what to expect. Most states offer some kind of sample questions so that you can study and get used to what’s going to be on the test. Just like you would practice for the running and push-up test, you want to practice for the written and oral tests.
Go to the state commission on law enforcement standards to find more information about the written test in your state. For example, in Texas, this is called the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE). In Michigan, it’s the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES). They should have information on their websites for what to expect on the test.
Obtain a Study Guide
There are expert guides that help you prepare for what you need to succeed in police academy training. Many of these guides have information to study for testing. Some of the things that you learn are state specific. For example, in Michigan, drunk driving is called Operating While Intoxicated. The law is Michigan Compiled Law 257.625. In other states, drunk driving might be called Operating Under the Influence or Driving While Intoxicated.
The specific law might be called something different, but for the most part, the generic laws are the same. Drunk driving is a crime in every state. The standard is usually a blood alcohol content of a .08 or driving while influenced by alcoholic liquor, no matter what it’s called.
Other laws are generally the same, too. It’s illegal to break and enter in every state. It’s illegal to steal someone’s car. It’s illegal to assault or batter a spouse. There’s also a difference between assault and battery that’s important to learn.
However, generically, you can buy an expert guide for police training that helps you learn what all of these laws are. Laws are made of pieces called elements, and you can start memorizing these elements. This helps you both pass your police training as well as succeed once you’re on the force.
Start Conditioning and Physical Training ASAP
You can start your physical training today. Especially if you’re new to an exercise program, check with a doctor to make sure you can succeed with an exercise program, and then begin slowly. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you can’t get in shape in a day, either. You can get injured, though, so it’s important that you don’t overdo it.
Do a gentle warm up to get your muscles ready for exercise. Make sure you have good shoes that are made for running. You need to train for both speed and endurance, so gradually increase your distance until you run about two miles.
Strength training should consist of squats, push ups, jumps and reaching. You also likely have to be able to pull a weighted dummy, so arm and core strength is critical. A good way to strength train is to do as many repetitions as you can in a set period of time, such as thirty seconds. That way, you can monitor your progress.
Drink lots of water while you train. Take time to cool down with light aerobic exercise after a workout. You should also take a day between your strength training days. This helps your muscles grow.
Look the Part
Another way to prepare for your police academy training is to eat well. You’re going to need your body to work for you, so eat fruits and vegetables and cut out the junk. Get more sleep than you used to, especially if you’re just beginning an exercise program.
When you’re going in for examinations and testing, cover up your tattoos. Shave any facial hair. It’s also worthwhile to get a modest, clean haircut. These modifications can help you look the part, which can win over an interviewer or an examination committee.