What is the hardest part about training to become a police officer? If I am thinking about applying to a police department or a police academy, what should I do to prepare myself in advance? What is harder, the physical requirements or learning/remembering all the laws? Any advice you can give for a young person to prepare in advance would be appreciated.

Andrew, from St. Joseph

If you were to know someone thinking about becoming a police officer I would strongly suggest they do a ride-along, or several with a police department. While doing a ride-along it might be found that this career option isn’t for you, or the opposite and it solidifies your interest. If it isn’t for you, it would be better to find out before attending college and going through the police academy, which is expensive.

When it comes to the preparation of becoming a police officer there isn’t one answer that would be the same for everyone. Some people are more physically fit than others to begin with. I would strongly suggest that if a person knows they will be attending a police academy in the near future, they begin a physical fitness regiment. Some of these activities should be distance running, to build stamina, and some weight training. This will also be beneficial once they become a police officer because there are times you’ll definitely need to be physically fit. To see what the physical fitness pre-academy standards are you can search MCOLES (Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards) pre-enrollment test on the internet. This is what you must meet prior to being enrolled in an academy.

Just like the physical aspect of the training there is a large academic curriculum. It’s important to stay on top of the material because there are tests along the way with a MCOLES state test at the end of the academy which you must pass.

So you now have attended college and received an associate or bachelor’s degree and passed the MCOLES approved academy, now the fun starts of getting employed.

This entails finding a prospective department, applying, writing a cover letter, resume and completing several interviews. Some departments require a written test be taken prior to an interview. After successful completion of the interview process a background investigation will be completed, medical screening and a psychological test.

You will then receive a conditional offer of employment. Most departments have a 16-week Field Training Process you will complete. After successful completing of the field training you will be assigned to a shift working by yourself or with a partner.

Good luck, and we hope to find a lot of dedicated, energetic people looking to enter the criminal justice field.

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