When you were a kid, you may have idolized police officers. The most exciting movies were the ones in which the good guys caught the bad guys, and communities were kept safe. Today, many people have varying perceptions of law enforcement, particularly in the wake of the social justice rallies of 2020. There are those calling for police reform and a reallocation of funds within police departments. Others believe we should stand behind our officers, who are there to protect and serve. There is, however, one thing we can all agree on: The need for good police officers is greater today than ever before.
Just as it is within any professional field, there are those who are better at their jobs than others. Of course, not every career brings the kind of pressure that police officers experience. In law enforcement, the role can mean the difference of life or death – literally.
Proper police training and education are key in helping officers develop the tools needed for success on the job. But great officers need more than just on-the-job training. If you’re interested in becoming a police officer, you may be wondering if you have what it takes. If you find you’re asking yourself: ‘Would I make a good police officer?’, read on. Here, we will break down some of the key qualities and skills needed in policing, so that you can decide whether this career path is right for you.
Would You Make a Good Police Officer? Four Checkpoints to Cross Off Your List
- Compassion and Empathy
This may surprise you, as we tend to think of nurses, or teachers, when we think of these qualities in professional settings. The truth is: Good police officers have a healthy amount of compassion and empathy. In order to put on that badge and protect the community, you need to care about those that you’re serving. You must be willing to put your own life on the line for the sake of the safety and survival of your community.
Of course, there will be times on the job that you will also need to have patience and emotional strength. There will be moments of frustration, and many days that are hard to forget. As important as it is to have compassion and empathy, it is also important to be able to detach from role at the end of the day. Many officers struggle with this, particularly officers who have a lot of compassion. They care so much that their work often comes home with them and causes emotional distress. Striking a balance will help you perform your job, protect the community, and live a full and healthy life outside of the squad car.
- Communication Skills
Here is an important skill that can mean the difference of life or death, as we mentioned earlier. As an officer, it is important to relay information in detail, painting a vivid and accurate picture of what happened. Excellent communication skills are a key part of serving your police department.
As an officer, you may find that you need to write reports, discuss investigations, and converse with the general public on a daily basis. Strong communication skills can also accurately convey your compassion and empathy as you protect and serve, which helps build trust within the community.
- Negotiation Skills
If you’ve ever had to talk your way through a problem or talk your way out of trouble with a parent – you may be blessed with the gift of negotiation. Just like your communication skills, you will need to have some serious skills when it comes to negotiating.
Police officers are first responders. They are often there on the scene of an accident or crime scene, working to help those in need of assistance. Negotiation skills help with these tough situations. Some of the qualities that encompass strong negotiation skills include:
- Active listening
- Expressing empathy
- Keeping calm
- Treating people with dignity and respect
Police officers who possess – and practice – these qualities may find that their workday goes much more smoothly than those without. Police officers who have short fuses or are quick to judge do not have the same success on the job as those who have strong negotiation skills.
Here is an often overlooked, but highly important, quality for a good police officer. It is not enough to want to carry a gun and “catch the bad guys.” A good police officer needs to have a good character and strong backbone.
Not only are officers responding to accidents and crimes, but they are also defending the innocent. Police officers need to stand up for what is right and protect the community while maintaining peace.
The best police officers are often the ones who go above and beyond, just because they care. An officer will follow up with families and continue to monitor the community with a close eye.
As you ponder, “Would I be a good police officer?”, you can look over this list and consider if you have these qualities and skills. If you think you have what it takes, you may be able to polish these skills with a Criminal Justice degree, like the one offered at Goodwin University. The program is taught by experienced police officers, detectives, lawyers, and others who have worked in law enforcement. Their experience can help give you insight as you prepare for policing, better than any textbook could.
If you would like to step up and serve your community, learn more about the Criminal Justice degree at Goodwin University. Call 800-889-3282 or visit us online to request more information.
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.