Although state and local requirements for becoming a police officer vary, many requirements are standardized across the country. Before undertaking the completion of educational and training obligations, future police officers should possess traits essential for succeeding at such a high-stress, often perilous career. Anyone working in law enforcement should have a strong desire to protect the welfare of others, have excellent communication and interpersonal skills, and not harbor bias against any demographic or ethnicity. Read on to see what law enforcement training entails in the state of Florida.
Getting Started on a Career in Local Law Enforcement
After earning a high school diploma or equivalent, prospective law enforcement students will need to:
Enroll in a Local Police Academy Law Enforcement Training Program
Police academies offer classroom courses, physical training, and simulated scenarios to prepare students for certification as a police officer. The federal government leaves it up to state and local regulations to determine certification requirements. For this reason, police academies in Florida and elsewhere may offer different coursework subjects and mandated hours. In addition, police academies are often associated with community or vocational colleges or local and state police agencies.
In some cases, individuals are first hired by a police department, which then sends that person to a police academy. When this opportunity is available, individuals pay little to nothing for attending the academy and often receive a stipend while attending the academy.
Many police departments do not require applicants to hold a higher education degree. You just need to show you have completed a police academy training program and pass rigorous background checks to be considered for employment. A few agencies may require applicants to have an associate or bachelor’s degree. If you want to work for law enforcement at the federal level, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree.
Getting Hired to Work as a Police Officer
You must be at least 21 years old to work in law enforcement in the state of Florida. Once you have completed a law enforcement training program, you will need to pass a written examination, a physical fitness test, alcohol and drug tests, and a background check.
Regardless of having passed all the tests mentioned above, a felony could disqualify you from becoming a police officer. Having felonies or serious (Class A) misdemeanors on your record. Examples of Class A misdemeanors include burglary, unlawful possession of weapons, and violating a restraining order, as well as:
- History of drug abuse
- History of domestic violence
- History of bad credit
- Past gang affiliations
- Dishonorable discharge from the military
- Providing incomplete or false information on application forms
Probationary Periods for Newly Hired Law Enforcement
Police officers are hired on a probationary basis. On-the-job training may last as long as six months, depending on where the officer is training. Law enforcement hires working in highly populated, urban areas will likely remain on probation longer than officers working in smaller, less populated areas. Once an officer is no longer on probation, they can begin patrolling alone or be assigned to special events.
Training Requirements to be a Corrections Officer
Police officers can work as corrections officers in jails or prisons only after completing a Basic Ability Test and scoring 70% or higher. This is because a police officer can have more training than a correctional officer, and step into this line of work, whereas a correctional officer who has only worked in a jail or prison will be required to complete more training that involves learning self-defense tactics, proper use of firearms, and laws regulating the behavior of corrections officers towards inmates.
Federal prisons require corrections officers have at least three years’ previous experience as a CO, as well as a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or other relevant fields. In addition, federal corrections officers must complete 120 training hours within the first two months of employment and an additional 200 hours within 12 months of their hire date.
Local and state correctional facilities normally do not require COs to have a degree. However, a high school diploma or GED is mandatory to be hired as a corrections officer.
What are Rapid Response Teams?
Rapid response teams are comprised of law enforcement officers trained to quickly neutralize dangerous situations as effectively and safely as possible. Rapid response teams are typically called to manage active shooter situations, riots, crowd control, and severe weather conditions involving mass looting and crime. In addition to being trained to defuse life-or-death events, rapid response teams learn how to properly utilize full riot suits, riot helmets with face shields, anti-riot batons, and other crowd control equipment.