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I'm a corrections officer with a clean record. I'm smart, in shape and motivated, and have good credit, a solid work history and no criminal background. Although I love my job, I want to be a police officer, but I m running into a few snags.
It's been an uphill battle since I was DQed from the first department in 2005. Since then, I ve received 14 rejections all during the background phase from three different states. They range from the self-esteem-salvaging thanks, but no thanks to the blunt, but honest, if none of these other people wanted you I d love to know why.
Because I'm a girl, I'm entitled to unprovoked hysteria at times. I don't know how much longer I can be tough about this. There are a ton of incredible LEOs out there, but I can't help but get irritated about being denied when I run into another idiot, jerk or sadist riding a squad car. I'm told the field is hurting and in special need of qualified, motivated applicants.
If that's true, why did I just receive that 15th no thanks the one with the fabled indefinitely on the bottom? Because you seem to be knowledgeable in, well, everything, my questions are: Why is the indefinitely bomb dropped? Does persistence really pay off, or is it sinking me? Should I ahem give up? Or is there hope for me yet? Give it to me straight, boss.
Lorna in Albuquerque, N.M.
Dear Lorna: Young lady, you must be speaking with a forked tongue. I'll give you some ideas for getting hired, but first let's talk a bit about police hiring today.
Where I work, a lot of departments have taken pay/benefit cuts, a bunch were threatening layoffs and at least one actually let cops go. In that department, the chief did a great job of finding homes for all of his cops in some of the surrounding agencies. I m sure he had to cash in a few chips to get that done because all of those agencies were also hurting. The point: For the foreseeable future, anyone trying to get hired better be ready for some stiff competition.
You're not going to like this, so pour yourself a drink and sit down. One of two things is keeping you from getting hired: Either you're lying to me, or you're lying to yourself. Every department needs qualified women, so you must not be shooting straight when you claim to be damn close to Wonder Woman. Smart, in shape, motivated women are exactly what just about every department needs because we already have plenty of men who fit that description. You might be lying to yourself about how you fit into your current organization.
I read your letter a few times before I picked up on two things that may be causing you to get dropped like a parolee on the wrong side of a Taser: "I'm a girl" and "unprovoked hysteria." This ain't my first traffic stop, so I get the humor, but you might just be a complete nut bucket. You need to look at how you interact with your own agency. They re probably putting the baton to your applications because of something intangible, not something that gets you into trouble or even affects your evaluations. Maybe someone thinks you re as crazy as a 400-lb. naked guy in the middle of the street. In a competitive market, that's all it takes. It might be that they don't like or trust you, so they kill your applications.
Reassess and decide if police work is a good fit. If cop work is all that will make you happy, you still have options. Go finish your degree. Good grades mean squat without that. Try departments where no one wants to go. I m talking about places where it s either too hot or too cold for anyone who can get hired elsewhere. Those places are almost always hiring because cops go there and leave after a few years. You could also try the military. They have all sorts of police functions where you ll gain tons of experience. You can continue on and have an honorable career serving your country, parlay the experience into a civilian cop job or realize cop work doesn't fit.
The words on the rejection don t matter, so get over that. Departments don t need girls or hysteria. We need smart motivated women (and men). If you re not ahem crazy don t act that way! Figure out if you re an hysterical girl or a smart woman. That answer, Grasshopper, shall take you to the true path. Follow it.
Got a question or complaint? Let Bullethead hear about it. He'll give you his opinion WITH BOTH BARRELS. Contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or fax him at 619/699-6246.