Police officers perform a very wide range of duties, including patrolling neighbourhoods, interviewing suspects, and mediating conflicts. Because of this variety and unpredictability, and also because of the high level of trust placed in police officers, there are certain personal qualities that are very important for anyone hoping to enter a career in law enforcement.
If you’re considering becoming a police officer, you may have wondered what personal qualities you’ll need to succeed in this exciting and fulfilling career. Here are five of the most important.
1. Police Officers Need to Be Empathetic and Compassionate
Police officers spend every day working with the public, often in unusually difficult and stressful circumstances. They also spend a good deal of time working with vulnerable populations, including those with addiction and mental health issues. For these reasons and many others, compassion and empathy are essential qualities for police officers. This means the ability to understand what someone else is feeling in a given situation, to share those feelings, and to act on them appropriately in order to offer the assistance they need. By engaging with the public with empathy and compassion, police officers are often able to de-escalate heated situations, to help victims in times of distress, and to build a rapport with the communities they serve.
2. Police Officers Should Be Team Players
Being a police officer involves frequent coordination with other law enforcement officers and departments, as well as court officials, paramedics, social workers, and more. Whether following orders, taking on a leadership role, or coordinating among several officers or departments, police work is highly cooperative, so those hoping for a job in law enforcement should be good team players.
3. Critical Thinking Is Essential for Careers in Law Enforcement
Police officers deal with an incredibly varied range of situations in their work. To understand what’s happened or happening in these situations, police officers are often required to sort through a large amount of information, including statements and evidence that can be potentially irrelevant, misleading, or contradictory. In order to sort through this information effectively and arrive at the truth, police officers need to combine the skills they learn in their police foundations courses with excellent critical thinking skills, and they need to be able to employ them even in fast-paced or high-stress situations.
4. Adaptability and Flexibility Are Important When You Become a Police Officer
When you become a police officer, you can expect to work in ever-changing conditions. From the laws you’re enforcing, to the guidance you receive in how best to enforce those laws, to the problems and the people you encounter on the streets, as a police officer you’ll deal with a variety of shifting factors and need to be flexible and adaptable in order to stay current with those changes.
5. Integrity Is a Fundamental Quality for Police Officers
Public trust is essential for police officers to do their work. The public needs to have a high level of trust in police officers in order to feel comfortable, safe, and confident when reporting crimes, allowing police into their homes, or revealing private or sensitive information in the course of an investigation. In order to cultivate and maintain this trust, integrity is a fundamental quality for all police officers. Integrity means following through and performing your duties to the best of your abilities, honestly and thoroughly, even when you’re not being monitored or rewarded.
Are you considering a career in law enforcement?
Contact Anderson College for more information about our police foundations program.