A police officer is a respected member of the community. From answering disturbance calls, to responding to accidents and incidents, to solving crimes and protecting the community, a law enforcement official is always performing a vital service for the good of society.
If you’re thinking of police work as your career, consider what qualities and characteristics you should possess as a police officer.
Characteristics Best Suited to Police Work
Every officer should have the highest integrity and character. However, when we asked police officers what they saw as the most important qualities to performing work as law enforcement officials, they thoughtfully offered these additional traits.
Police officers must:
- Enjoy Working with People. Police work among the general public every day. Whether they are providing security services at large events or patrolling highways and city streets to ensure citizens’ safety, they are talking to people for at least half of their work day. Being a “people person” is cited by many police officers as an essential requirement of the job. Many days, a police officer must help those who are suffering, which can be overwhelming and exhausting. To be a good police officer, you must truly care for people—those you know, those you don’t, and those you’ll meet some day in the future.
- Enjoy English, Science, Math and Computers. While working with people involves a part of an officer’s day, office work takes up at least another few hours. Officers use computers to write and file reports and must have fundamental knowledge (and often much more) of science and math. Many police officers earn an undergraduate bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, which is grounded in communication and critical thinking, to ensure that they can successfully multitask.
- Be a Team Player. An important aspect of police work is coordinating with other law enforcement departments, court officials, and various first responders — all integral parts of the law enforcement community. This means that officers will often be in a leadership position and will have to delegate items to others on their team. You must know how to communicate with others to create a safe environment.
- Be a Fast Problem Solver. An officer is called upon to make hundreds of decisions throughout the course of a day, often using a combination of instinct, research, proper procedure, and analysis. While some problem-solving abilities come with years of experience, it’s still important to be able to make snap decisions at the beginning of your career.
- Easily Adapt to Change. The rise and fall of political parties and those who appoint police commissioners guarantee that a police officer’s environment will be ever changing. A good officer has the ability to modify his or her methods without sacrificing results.
Keep in mind that law enforcement hiring is very competitive now. If you would like to be a police officer, an undergraduate degree in criminal justice will make you a valuable applicant when it comes to finding employment. Those who currently hold a position as a police officer also have found it useful to earn a four-year degree, but have difficulty finding the time to attend school at a traditional campus. Lindenwood University Online offers an accredited online bachelor of Criminal Justice degree that can be completed using just your computer — on your own time. Our online courses are designed for those who work long hours or in shifts. Contact us today for more information on our online Criminal Justice undergraduate degree.