Moving Up In The Law Enforcement Profession

Most of us never think of what it takes to move up the professional ladder in law enforcement, but those who are interested in policing our streets should be well informed as to their career path.  Missed opportunities in law enforcement are not easy to undo.  

When it comes to progression in the field of law enforcement, your progress depends on your drive.  The job benefits those who are always willing to learn and grow in their craft.  Like with any professional position, you must have a proven positive track record to progress.  Here are a few other tips for moving up in law enforcement.

The patrol officer position

The first position you will be placed in after training school is the patrol officer.  This is the traditional cop everyone envisions when they think of law enforcement.  Most cops do not progress past patrol officer, and spend their career enforcing local, state, and federal laws in a nearby neighborhood or city.  

The duties of this position include patrolling an area in their police vehicle, on horseback, motorcycle, or foot.  Beat cops are first on the scene to vehicle accidents, robberies, domestic disputes, and a slew of other criminal activities.

Detective or crime scene investigator

After serving your time as a patrol officer, the next rung of the professional ladder is to be promoted to detective or crime scene investigator.  There is a written exam to progress to this position, and it is a very competitive job force.  

Most jurisdictions require officers to serve on patrol for at least two years before becoming eligible for the position of detective.  Larger forces require up to five years of service before a promotion.  Sometimes, schooling in criminal justice is required as well.  

Detective supervisor position

After mastering the position of detective or crime scene investigator, the next position to acquire is detective supervisor.  In this stage of the profession, you will be responsible for overseeing the department’s detective force.  

Detective supervisors are responsible for case assignments.  In addition to divvying out assignments, supervisors relay important information within the department, and discipline officers.

Police sergeant is the doorway

After proving to the service of law enforcement that you can competently handle the position of detective supervisor, the next step of the professional ladder is that of police sergeant.  A police sergeant has a multitude of important duties within the department.  They oversee entire shifts.

The road to becoming chief

Police sergeants move on to the next rung of the ladder to lieutenant.  From there, the law enforcement path to the top moves to captain, deputy chief, and chief.  Any movement up from there most likely involves federal enforcement services.  

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