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  1. #1
    Pudge's Avatar
    Pudge is online now Site Admin
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    What makes a good cop?

    This is a spin-off of jmur's thread.

    It got me thinking about requirements for certification, and departments.

    In your opinion, what makes a candidate a better Peace Officer? Does a College Education of two years or four make a person ready for the street and investigations? Is it life experience? Military? Or combination of any of those?


    I've heard lore of three LE administrators sitting around discussing potential hires. The first says that he likes his new hires between the ages of 21-23 with military experience or a college degree, perfect credit, and not so much as a traffic ticket. A second administator agrees.

    When the first two ask the third for his ideal candidate, they're astounded at the answer.

    The salty, older administrator says, "Give me a thirty year old who has worked a dead end job, been divorced, had a car repossessed, and is on the verge of bankrupcy"

    The first two bosses sit around and mumble about how crazy the third is, and they'd never hire that person. The third simply answers, "That guy or girl knows something about life and what effects it, they'll make solid decisions on the street, and work their ass off for me"

    It may be funny to think of, but I think there is alot of truth to that statement. What's your thoughts?
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  2. #2
    jmur5074's Avatar
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    I think it's a mix of life experiences, maturity, and common sense.

    I don't think a college degree makes you a good cop. I don't think making you a law abiding citizen makes you a good cop. I don't think being in the military makes you a good cop.

    Reason being, I work in a state that requires a law enforcement degree, and I've got some crappy cops on my dept, and we all have degrees. I also work with plenty of Mr. John Q. Public's who have never so much as farted in church let alone gotten a ticket, and some of them are crappy cops. And I also work with plenty of guys who were in the military who turned out to be crappy cops.

    I think a degree can help you be a good cop, as well as being the straight and narrow never been in trouble type, and so can having military experience.

    But the most important, and ideal quality to be a good cop is common sense. Every single thing we deal with requires common sense to find a solution, because when we get on scene no one there is using it.
    No one has greater love than this, to lay down ones life for ones friends - John 15:13

    "The Wicked Flee When No Man Pursueth: But The Righteous Are Bold As A Lion".

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    The opinions, beliefs, and ideas expressed in this post are mine, and mine alone. They are NOT the opinions, beliefs, ideas, or policies of my Agency, Police Chief, City Council, or any member of my department.

  3. #3
    tapout's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmur5074 View Post

    But the most important, and ideal quality to be a good cop is common sense. Every single thing we deal with requires common sense to find a solution, because when we get on scene no one there is using it.
    amen


    qualities of a good cop:

    -COMMON SENSE
    -INTEGRITY
    -the ability to think independently, and use discretion when appropriate
    -the ability to make quick decisions and to think on your feet
    -good communication skills
    -the ability to take control of a scene upon arrival
    -life experience
    -caring about your appearance (shirt tucked tight, boots polished, generally squared away)
    -survival mindset
    -ALWAYS courageous but not too proud to tactically retreat if necessary
    -thorough knowledge and interpretation of criminal statutes


    i could go on and on...
    in the warriors code there's no surrender, though his body says stop, his spirit cries...NEVER. deep in our souls, a quiet ember, knows its you against you, its the paradox that drives us all. its a battle of wills, in the heat of attack, its the passion that kills, and victory is yours alone.


    the posts and opinions stated by me do not in any way reflect the values, beliefs, or views of my department. they are simply opinions and/or observations which have been developed through my personal experiences. hell, most of the stories probably arent even true...wink wink

  4. #4
    Five-0's Avatar
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    Well said jmur. I think that military/college shows two things:

    1. You can stick out a decision.
    2. You are still capable of learning.

    A clean record outside of minor traffic shows you have respect for the law that you will be enforcing. Doesn't really make you a good cop.

    Being married shows that no matter how much of an asshole you are that there is at least one person in the world that can work with you. It also shows that you are a problem solver. Anyone that has been married knows that. Being divorced doesn't really mean that you are not capable. It does lend you some life experience points. Having said that, I would not hire anyone currently going through a divorce for any line of work. Just me. A steady homelife will bring stability to the workplace no matter where that is.

    Common sense isn't so common anymore. Credit ratings are a good indicator. Buying a bunch of shit you can't afford and over extending yourself financially is not an indicator of common sense to me. A steady work history shows a work ethic. Hell, I would wager I could tell a person's work ethic by designing an application that causes the applicant to work harder.

    Bottom line is different factors mean different things. Sometimes a good patrol cop is not a good investigator for example. The way our business is set up everyone starts in patrol though. I would have to think that positive steady examples of character and reliabilty would increase your chances of hiring a person that has eithics, morals, and good work ethic. We can train police officers. The experience will come. Now if they can't respond to training, the FTOs need to show that. If the FTOs are showing that the administrators need to heed that and act accordingly.

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  5. #5
    tapout's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Five-0 View Post

    Bottom line is different factors mean different things. Sometimes a good patrol cop is not a good investigator for example.
    yeah, and many great detectives sucked on the road. different strokes for different folks. ones not better than the other, there is a very necessary place for both.
    in the warriors code there's no surrender, though his body says stop, his spirit cries...NEVER. deep in our souls, a quiet ember, knows its you against you, its the paradox that drives us all. its a battle of wills, in the heat of attack, its the passion that kills, and victory is yours alone.


    the posts and opinions stated by me do not in any way reflect the values, beliefs, or views of my department. they are simply opinions and/or observations which have been developed through my personal experiences. hell, most of the stories probably arent even true...wink wink

  6. #6
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    There are 3 things that make a good cop: Common sense, maturity and integrity.

    You have to have the common sense to know that life is not black and white. There are many shades of gray. Especially in some of the situations you have to deal with. You have to have the abillity to think outside of the box.

    You have to have the maturity to do the job. Meaning, if you handed out a ticket to someone for doing 15 over, don't do 30 over going to get your cup of coffee. If you arrest someone for DUI, when you're off don't drink and drive. That also ties in to your integrity. Don't be hypocritical and ticket/charge people for things you do yourself. Also, if you make a mistake....admit it.

    If you have those three things as a rookie, everything else you can learn.
    Are you a 3%er? If you aren't, you should be.

  7. #7
    lewisipso's Avatar
    lewisipso is offline Injustice/Indifference/In God we trust
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmur5074 View Post
    I think it's a mix of life experiences, maturity, and common sense.

    I don't think a college degree makes you a good cop. I don't think making you a law abiding citizen makes you a good cop. I don't think being in the military makes you a good cop.
    Right on the nose.
    Do not war for peace. If you must war, war for justice. For without justice there is no peace. -me

    We are who we choose to be.

    R.I.P. Arielle. 08/20/2010-09/16/2012


  8. #8
    Checkman's Avatar
    Checkman is offline What's the nearest cross street?
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    I was thirty-two when I got hired in 2000.

    I first tried to break into the profession in 91/92 when I was 23. I had a college degree and was an officer in the Army National Guard. I was young, cocky and very very self-confident. Up to that point my life had moved along with no real speedbumps.

    Well 1991 - 1992 was a very interesting time in my life. First of all I didn't get hired by any of the agencies I tested with. I began to get the distinct impression that my youth and lack of overall life experience was working against me. Well that and the fact that I had a big mouth in my earlier days and pissed off some folks. The economy nose dived and nobody cared about my fancy college degree.

    The puffed up young man who just knew he was the baddest thing around on 01/01/1991 was a very different person when 01/01/1993 rolled around.

    In the long run it was a good experience for me. I stopped feeling sorry for myself and went on active duty with the U.S. Army as an enlisted man. My wife and I saw Germany, had our kids, went to New York and experienced both victory and defeat. I came to realize that getting your teeth kick in by life is not the end of everything and sometimes adversity is a very good teacher.

    If nothing else I came to realize that when bad things happen you just need to keep hold of yourself, put your head down and get through. That was a very good experience for what cops have to deal with.

    I do think education is a good thing. Having my B.A. has helped me out in many different ways. But I also know some outstanding officers who have just their high school diplomas.

    Common sense is important.

    You have to be flexible. Folks with a Black & white outlook on life won't do real well as a cop. People are messy.

    Some empathy isn't bad either.

    A good cop has to be comfortable with his/her authority and can't be afraid to use it. However a good cop shouldn't be "badge-heavy". That badge dosen't make you a god and you will make mistakes. If you can't accept that you will have a hard time as a cop.

  9. #9
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    I think it's a mix of life experiences, maturity, and common sense.

    .
    Agree,with the added caveat of being able to survive on black coffee 24/7

  10. #10
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    Ive been in the military with guys that had degrees. The officers above me had degrees. Some guys were good, others were not. A peice of paper saying that you can take tests and write papers does not entitle you to common sense, common decency or the ability to realize that you are human and will make mistakes.

    I work with guys that are prior service and those that are not. I like the ones that are prior service only because I can relate to what they have been through.

    Education does not make the officer. Prior service does not make the officer.

    The ability to realize that your biggest weapon is your brain and not your pistol, that the people you are dealing with are humans that have the same basic wants and needs as you and that sometimes bad things happen to otherwise good people makes a good officer.

    My chief asked me a while back if I thought myself a good officer. I paused for a few moments, thinking over my career and answered: " Chief I've not taken anything that wasnt mine, Ive not charged anybody with charges they didnt deserve and I havent lied in court to make me or my case look good." My chief smiled and put his hand on my shoulder and nodded, simply saying that good officers can realize they are not perfect and still do the job.

    A good cop realizes that their badge wont stop a bullet, that their badge is a sign of relief to many and despite the pitfalls of our career, that their badge means that they are a role model and must act accordingly.
    "Sometimes people need a little help. Sometimes people need to be forgiven. And sometimes they need to go to jail."


  11. #11
    Radar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pudge113 View Post

    The salty, older administrator says, "Give me a thirty year old who has worked a dead end job, been divorced, had a car repossessed, and is on the verge of bankrupcy"

    The first two bosses sit around and mumble about how crazy the third is, and they'd never hire that person. The third simply answers, "That guy or girl knows something about life and what effects it, they'll make solid decisions on the street, and work their ass off for me"
    Considering I fit exactly what he's talking about right now, and I'm having a really hard time staying above water, and would love to find the department that salty old guy runs and apply for it, because you bet my ass I would work till my feet fell off and people told me to take a vacation...

    So far every Leo position i've applied for recently has been run by the first two administrators. Which is really sad, one of the jobs I really wanted, and would've enjoyed cut me loose because of my bad credit and divorce problems, even though having the job was exactly what I wanted and needed to get me turned around and on the right track. Still looking for my big break.
    Here Speeder, Speeder, Speeder


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  12. #12
    Kimble's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pudge113 View Post
    In your opinion, what makes a candidate a better Peace Officer?
    A strong metabolism. Donuts and coffee don't digest themselves!
    "I'm the only one in this room, that I know of, professional enough carry this Glock 40." -Lee Paige, DEA (just before shooting himself in the leg)

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  13. #13
    Ryan701's Avatar
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    This is a great thread filled with a lot of information, especially for someone who is interested in becoming a LEO. This is the first thread I have read on here, and I already think this forum is AWESOME.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Radar View Post
    Considering I fit exactly what he's talking about right now, and I'm having a really hard time staying above water, and would love to find the department that salty old guy runs and apply for it, because you bet my ass I would work till my feet fell off and people told me to take a vacation...

    So far every Leo position i've applied for recently has been run by the first two administrators. Which is really sad, one of the jobs I really wanted, and would've enjoyed cut me loose because of my bad credit and divorce problems, even though having the job was exactly what I wanted and needed to get me turned around and on the right track. Still looking for my big break.
    You should apply for mine, I'm not a salty old dog but anyone that can put in 300 hours in a month and not bitch about the fact that they arn't getting overtime for all of it is worth looking into.

    I get salary not hourly pay, and I put in a but load of OT, and right now I'm a 1 man show. Haven't seen any interest yet from anyone except for the greedy ones that have this dream of big money in LE.
    Just because your sign off after you're shift is done, doesn't mean that it's over and put blinders on. You're a cop 24/7 wether you like it or not. If thats something you can't handle, you should find a new line of work!

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sapper_132 View Post
    Haven't seen any interest yet from anyone except for the greedy ones that have this dream of big money in LE.
    Never be afraid to do what's right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society's punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way" ~Martin Luther King, Jr

  16. #16
    Ryan701's Avatar
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    Sapper,

    I'm willing and able. Where do I apply?

  17. #17
    doubs is offline Dirt Road Deputy
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    Thats alot of good things and I agree. Commonsense is really important. Now that i'm getting older I can see were maturity plays a big role to. Looking back I coulda been better sometimes and safer sometimes.

    I tell my Rookies they have to do two main things to make it as a cop. Dont put your calls off on someone else and back up other officers when they need it. Of course I pound in Officer Safety too.

    sapper I'd come check you out, can I have a takehome car to South Georgia? Or I'd take and F150 like yours, lol

  18. #18
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    For me, I think common sense, integrity and able to handle stress are all very important. Also, I would like to add that a sense of humor goes along way as well.
    Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you, Jesus Christ and the American G.I.
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