The first piece of advice I give to all new police officers is to hit the ground running. As soon as you get out of your field training program you should go to every call you can go to. Trust me; you still have a lot to learn. The more calls you take, the more you will learn. One of the biggest mistakes I see new officers make is they wait for the dispatcher to send them on calls. Don’t let that be you. Volunteer for as many calls as you can take.
This is what I did when I started my career. And by the time I had two years on my department, I had ten-year veterans asking me for advice on calls. By the time I had three years on, I had such a reputation as a hard worker and good cop, I was offered nearly any position I wanted on my department. The same will happen for you.
I noticed that many of my fellow officers who weren’t having good careers just didn’t work very hard. They took very few calls and made very few arrests. They were uncomfortable at major calls because they just didn’t know what to do. Most of them took early medical retirements or just quit and went into some other line of work.
You will never enjoy your police career unless you get very good at it. So work hard and become the best you can be and I’ll promise that you’ll have a great career. I wrote a book about my career called Police Stories: Making One Bit of Difference. In my career I had to work with some lousy teammates and some poor leaders, but I still worked hard and made a difference in my community. And if I could do it, I know that you can too. And if you do, you’ll find out something I found out long ago; if you make a difference in other peoples’ lives; that will make all the difference in your own life. Don’t give up.
God bless you and stay safe out there.
Police Stories: Making One Bit of Difference (available on Amazon.com)
Steve Dixon began his law enforcement career in the Military Police (US Army). He then spent eleven years with the Santa Clara (CA) Police Dept. and transferred to the San Jose (CA) Police Dept. where he spent twenty years. He has taught at the local police academies for twenty-six years and has trained thousands of police recruits. He spent a total of twenty-five years on street patrol and served as a sergeant for twelve years. He also spent five years as the spokesperson for the San Jose Police Dept. He retired from police service in July 2008 but still teaches at the academy. He lives in Northern California.