Homework time... again...
Well, once again, the school year has started.
Once again, we start seeing lots of requests for information to help with papers and homework. As a free service, let me offer the following tips to students:
>Pay attention in class. When the instructor gives you a deadline, don't wait till the night before to try to find the answers. Often, instructors will give you clues about where to find answers.
>Read the textbook. Do the supplemental readings, too. Do some research on your own before you come on-line. In most places, I'd caution that there's no way to know if the person answering you is a cop. OfficerResource is one of the few places that I am confident saying that if a person's tag says "Verified" -- they are what they say.
>Interview assignments: Few instructors want you to do these by email or by asking on a message board. First, how are you going to know who you're talking to for real? Second, the give and take of an actual conversation is different and much more instructive than reading typed responses -- even if it's on a chat line. We're visual creatures, by and large. Lots of communication is non-verbal -- and therefore completely absent on-line.
So -- how do you get an interview assignment done? Well -- start by not waiting till the last minute. Then, contact the local police or sheriff's departments. Many officers are perfectly willing to talk to an interested student for a few minutes -- and most departments have a community resource officer or public information officer whose job is to either do this or make it happen. Contact the agency, and make an appointment. Show up on time. Show up prepared. And be respectful of the officer's time.>Papers: Plan ahead. Do your research first. If you ask a question here that shows you've done your basic research -- I bet you'll get more positive responses. There's a huge difference between "what are three issues facing law enforcement today" and "I've been reading about challenges facing LE today; is the economy really causing more crime?"
Oh... and you prospective LEOs... do at least one, and probably several ride-alongs. With different agencies. Ideally agencies of different sizes or missions; a rural county sheriff's day is not the same as a municipal cop's.
Finally, my general advice on majors in college: Study something you're interested in. Use criminal justice as a minor or dual major; you never know what might happen down the road, or what might help you on the job. For example -- 15 years ago, nobody would likely have predicted the need for computer forensics that we see today. Or if you want to investigate financial crimes, a good business or accounting background would probably be quite helpful, no? And -- if you're interested, you'll do better in your classes. Better grades and better class performance will reflect better on you than mediocre grades... Especially since we teach you most of the cop-stuff you need to know in the academy and field training.