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How to become a police officer in USA

There is a lot of talk about the police in the United States. Indeed, this department is very unusual there. For example, each state has its police unit, which is not subordinate to the federal government. In addition, getting a job in US policy is not as difficult as it seems at first glance but such employment has its characteristics.

Unlike most countries, the United States does not have a single police department; therefore, the term “US police” is used informally. Instead, every state, as well as every major city, and sometimes even a smaller town, has its police department, independent of the others. Large transport companies may also have their police departments.

Police structure in the United States

In the US, there are federal law enforcement agencies that investigate federal crimes:

  • FBI; 
  • Drug Enforcement Administration;
  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives;
  • Secret Service;
  • Federal Marshals;
  • US Immigration and Customs Police, and some others.

But the main burden falls on the police of the states and cities. The head of a local police agency is a commissioner, superintendent, or police chief. 

At the county level, the head of the police department is usually called the sheriff. Sheriffs are almost universally elected to this position and are empowered to appoint deputies. The sheriff’s office is also responsible for maintaining the county jail and securing the courtroom.

Police powers in the United States

US law defines police powers as rights delegated by the state or municipal government to legislatively regulate civil interests, protect the safety, health, and everything that concerns citizens. They also have to carry out preventive activities concerning criminal offenses, riots related to them.

The exact terms of reference of the police are very difficult to define, as they are constantly updated in connection with the development of the level of public life, technology, the emergence of new government bodies, or their reorganization.

The rules for the use of force by US police officers are formalized in the form of classifications of levels of force and resistance levels of subjects of the use of force. Developed in the 1980s, these regulations have served as the basis for similar regulations in many countries.

Police salaries and benefits in the USA

The salaries of police officers in the United States are far from the highest (when compared with salaries in other areas). To understand how salaries are distributed, let’s look at the career growth of an ordinary American police officer. So, when employed for the first time, a police officer is awarded the rank of officer, and a salary of 30 to 40 thousand dollars is assigned. After three years of service, an officer can apply for the position of detective or the rank of sergeant. As a rule, the level of wages does not change significantly from such an increase.

Having served as a sergeant or having worked as a detective for several more years, a police officer can expect to receive the rank of lieutenant, after that – captain, and only then he/she can become a police inspector.

Only after passing all these career steps, a police officer has the right to apply for the title of a police chief, and then commissioner. The latter’s salary, as a rule, varies in the range from 100 to 200 thousand dollars. Nevertheless, the intermediate ranks mentioned above assume earnings in the region of 40-100 thousand dollars.

Promotion in the US Police Force is not easy. Seniority does not play a role here. Everything is determined by education, work experience, and the successful passing of the exam (it is difficult, and you can take it no more than 3 times a year).

To receive a seniority pension, a police officer must have served at least 20 years. The average retirement age is from 40 to 55 years, while a serving police officer will receive up to half of his/her monthly salary. If the work in the police was given 30 years or more, then the pension will be more than 80% of the average earnings.

Besides, police officers in the United States have full medical insurance paid by the authorities for all types of services (and as we know, for ordinary citizens, treatment in the States is not a cheap pleasure).

Requirements to become a police officer in America

To get a job with the US Police, a candidate must meet several requirements:

  • have no criminal record even for minor offenses;
  • be a US citizen;
  • applicants are accepted for service at least 21 years old, but not older than 35 years old;
  • it is necessary to successfully pass the exam and fulfill the standards for physical training.

If the candidate meets all the requirements, he/she enters a 12-week course. Then the future American police officer undergoes a 6-month probationary period, and only after that, he/she can become a full-time police officer.

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