To become a law enforcement officer today – whether that be a police officer or public safety official – you must fulfill a certain set of requirements to be deemed qualified for the job. For example, you must have the physical strength and aptitude to catch criminals, and pass a background check to ensure you have no criminal record yourself. However, to become a great law enforcement officer, there is much more involved.
The best law enforcement officers today employ a variety of soft skills, in addition to the usual qualities and qualifications that are required in the field. The most respected modern officers today have strong moral character, the ability to think on their feet, and a level head to help them to resolve conflict. If you are considering entering the law enforcement field, you will want to check the following skillsets off first.
Goodwin University is a leader in law enforcement education, helping aspiring professionals into successful public safety and criminal justice careers. Below, we outline the “soft” law enforcement skills that employers and communities are seeking in their law enforcement leaders.
Integrity is synonymous with strong moral character. It means that a person is consistently honest, and shows an unwavering commitment to moral and ethical values. A person with integrity is honorable. Law enforcement officers who show integrity in their role are the ones who go above and beyond to keep their communities safe. In turn, they are the most trusted and respected in the public eye. Citizens will trust that they can ask the officer for help, talk to the officer about something they’ve seen, or trust that the officer has good values at the heart of everything he or she does. Considering modern day events, showing integrity as a law enforcement officer is one of the most beneficial things you can do.
2. Empathy and Compassion
Empathy means having the ability to understand someone else’s feelings – to try and feel what it is like to be in their shoes. Compassion means taking that understanding to the next level, and turning it into action. Now you may be wondering, what does this have to do with law enforcement? The best law enforcement officers can see from all angles. They try to understand what a person on the other side, is going through, whether it’s a suspect or victim of a crime, or just a local civilian needing help. Having empathy and compassion helps law enforcement officers build trust and rapport within their community. It also helps bring positivity and healing to otherwise traumatic situations.
Law enforcement is an exciting, and often unpredictable, career. Every day is unique, with different calls and cases coming in every hour. As a result, law enforcement officers must be adaptable and ready for whatever comes their way. One day they may be assigned overseeing a local marathon or parade. Another day, they may be designated to assist on a homicide case. In either situation, challenges can arise. A fight could break out at the parade. New suspects or victims could come forth in the homicide investigation. Law enforcement officers must always be able to anticipate, adapt, and overcome challenges in their day-to-day roles.
4. Mental Agility
Law enforcement officers must be smart and sensible. They must have the ability to evaluate and understand their surroundings at all times, and anticipate what’s ahead. This enables them to think quickly on their feet, especially in the face of danger. You see, while most officers can predict a situation, they never truly know what is going to happen. In life-threatening situations, they may only have seconds to react. A good law enforcement skillset includes the mental agility to think quickly and critically about situations, and to effectively solve problems that arise along the way.
5. Listening and Observation
Law enforcement officers often need to interpret and understand the needs of others in conversation. They listen to the stories of witnesses, the tragedies of victims, the perspectives of suspected criminals, the concerns of the local community. So, in order to be a great law enforcement officer, you must have strong active listening skills. The more you absorb from others, the more prepared you will be to help.
Active listening goes hand-in-hand with observation. Just as you need to pay attention to others and effectively interpret their needs, you must be able to pay close attention to your environment and take in all the details around you. These will be essential for your success in law enforcement, as well, whether that be solving a case or writing an investigative report. The more detail-oriented you are in your listening and observation skills, the better equipped you will be for your future career. Listening and observation will be key components of any law enforcement training you pursue.
6. Effective Communication
Similar to observation and listening skills, law enforcement professionals must be able to communicate effectively with others – those on their team, and those in the community. They must have both written and verbal communication skills. On the written side, officers must be able to communicate the details of a scene or report clearly and thoroughly. On the verbal side, you must be able to communicate positively with a diversity of people and populations. People from all walks of life will look to you for advice and guidance. The better you can communicate with them – and the more thorough, factual, and empathetic you are in your delivery – the more the community will trust you and all that you do.
7. Conflict Resolution
Conflict is an inherent part of law enforcement work, with calls and arrests often involving some level of dispute. However, if you excel in conflict resolution and can tactfully “keep the peace,” you will find great success in a law enforcement role. Ask yourself: Do you find that you are the peacemaker between your friends, family, or children? Do you find that you can de-escalate situations that are getting out of hand? Can you effectively calm someone down who is overly angry or emotional? Can you keep a level-head yourself in these situations? If so, conflict resolution is a skill that will help you thrive in your career path as a police or law enforcement officer.
Whether you wish to become a police officer, detective, park ranger, immigration specialist, DEA agent, or public safety guard, these law enforcement skills can be difference-makers in your career. By exercising empathy, integrity, and agility in your role, you will become an effective and respective law enforcement officer. How do you develop these skills, you ask?
Becoming a great law enforcement officer starts from within. Evaluate your morals, your perspectives, and your ability to serve the greater population. If you have a passion for helping others and wish to serve your community, you can take your skills to the next level through a law enforcement program. Some law enforcement careers require academy training, while others require a college education. No matter your path, most modern employers value and desire law enforcement officers with a postsecondary degree, such as the criminal justice degree at Goodwin University.
To learn more about law enforcement skills that will help you succeed, or to learn about our law enforcement programs, please do not hesitate to reach out. Learn more about our criminal justice school in Connecticut today by calling 800-889-3282.
Goodwin University is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.