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Free «To Protect and to Serve» Essay Sample


The perks that one can attain by working as a police officer in Los Angeles is that he/she can move from one division to another and be equipped with new skills. The LAPD police department seeks to hire bright individuals, who are willing to make a difference in their lives and the communities as well. However, all the LAPD recruits must start working as patrol and then they might opt to remain patrols or put in effort into becoming eligible for promotions as well as transfers to more specialized divisions. As a police officer in Los Angeles Police Department, it is a prerequisite for one to have skills pertinent to reading maps, analyzing crime statistics and meeting deadlines (Forst & Dempsey 56).

Requirements to Become a Police Officer and the Reasons to Become a Cop

For one to become a police officer in Los Angeles, he/she ought to be at least twenty one years old. He/she should also have graduated from a US high school or institution and have a corresponding certificate.  Los Angeles also requires its police officers to be citizens of the Unites States while the non-citizens ought to be permanent residents. However, a candidate applying for a position of police officer in LA doesn`t have to be LA resident (Bultema 92).

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In the event of a candidate qualifying for the position of LAPD officer, he/she will be expected to fill a Preliminary Background Application (PBA). The application is a background check that ensures the candidate will be in a position to handle stress and trauma, inherent in the routine duties of a cop. Persons who have had a history of engaging in immoral or ethical practices will not be hired. Candidates will also be expected to exhibit exemplary levels of integrity and honesty by avoiding the fabrication of any information submitted in the course of the application. Other tests that a candidate will be expected to pass include a department interview, medical examination, polygraph test and psychological evaluation after which he/she will undergo certification and appointment.

The reason that compels individuals to become cops is the desire to be entrusted with responsibility to protect the city and keep it safe from crimes and corruption. For this reason, the ethical background of an applicant will be closely scrutinized. In addition, being a cop is a duty that accords someone the satisfaction of putting things in order and assisting people whenever they need help from the cops. One feels useful when he/she has the ability to attend to criminal complaints from the community and maintain peace and tranquillity. In typical working days, the cops at Los Angeles Police department start their day by checking whether there are any crime alerts that require analysis of detectives (Halle, David & Andrew 139).

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The Type of Training Cops Receive and Remuneration

When a candidate is successful in the preliminary procedures of being cop, they will be subjected to a training to be imparted with necessary skills. The training encompasses hands-on career technical training and the corresponding academic training. Those, willing to pursue job corps, will be imparted with the relevant academic training pertinent to the fields of electricians, computer assistants, medical office assistants, networking and programming just to mention a few (Forst & Dempsey 126). Cops, who venture in other fields, will also be provided with the relevant training applicable to their respective designations. For instance, there are those who will choose to be patrols, sergeants and detectives and those, who will be required to handle specialized assignments. Sergeant and detectives will be trained how to conduct criminal investigations and orchestrate field supervision. Therefore, such a training will help the trainees to comfortably conduct homicides and drug trafficking among other crimes. In a nutshell, the kind of training that cops will be subjected will be a function of the precise area of specialization. Moreover, the police officers in Los Angeles have been given the prerogative to switch jobs and work for various specialized assignments and divisions as well (Halle, David & Andrew 39).

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However, for a more general training of the officers, they go through difficult situations and experience a lot of pressure (Greenberg 52). While undergoing training, a typical day begins at 6 am and ends late in the evening. They are also expected to set aside some hours for studying and getting ready for the next day’s classes. When a recruit does not pass an exam, he/she will be forced to repeat it after some time and will be expelled if they fail the second time.

The salaries that are awarded to cops in Los Angeles are dependent on the rank that an officer occupies. In case of new recruits, the salary ranges between $5,000 and $10,000.  However, the compensation is awarded through sign-on bonuses (Greenberg 121). The full salary is awarded after the first day of academic training.  For applicants with a GPA of above 2.0 or college units that exceed 60, the salary range would be between $47,000 and $51,000. The payments always change depending on the negotiations that take place between the city and police officers. In 2014, for instance, basic remuneration was increased to $57,420 and it is also expected to be adjusted in the course of 2015.

Importance of a Polygraph Test and Questions Asked During the Test

The purpose of a polygraph test is to measure and record the physiological responses such as perspiration, breathing rate, heartbeat and pulse. A police officer undertaking the test will be required to respond to certain questions and the polygraph will detect the physiological responses while the questions are being answered. The polygraph uses the concept that people are nervous when giving false information. A polygraph test is important in revealing information that cannot be obtained using the conventional test methods (Hess & Orthmann 87). In addition, the test will also aid in establishing someone’s background information so as to identify the undesirable applicants.

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Most of the questions entailed in a polygraph test are personal questions, all of which ought to be answered truthfully. Some of the frequently asked polygraph questions are: Have you ever stolen from your employer? Have you ever been tardy for work for any personal reason? Have you ever been apprehended for any criminal reason? Have you ever engaged in sexual relations with an under-age female partner? Have you ever engaged in acts that deprived an individual of their property or merchandise through theft (Hess & Orthmann 77).

It is a prerequisite for applicants to exhibit a clean criminal record that would prove the applicant is free from any illegal activities that might haunt them later in their profession. A clean criminal record is also important in ensuring that the applicants pass the background check and prove that they are morally upright and responsible citizens.

One can only be disqualified from being a cop if they do not portray honesty by failing a polygraph or background test. Other causes of disqualification are not attaining the legal age of twenty one years, not being a US citizen, past or current gang affiliations, credit issues, dishonourable discharge from the military service, a terrible driving history and cases of domestic violence. The record of the applicant should always be clean. A candidate should also qualify for the minimum fitness requirements as stipulated by the Los Angeles police department and have at least a high school diploma. In addition, some acts that appear not to matter can disqualify someone from being a cop. An example is failure to pay the student’s loan or having an eye vision that is less than 20/20 in either eye.

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However, there has been an on-going trend that involves expungement of criminal records. The procedure involves the removal of a conviction from one’s criminal record after certain requirements have been met. One can qualify for expungement of criminal records if they prove they don’t have other convictions in the course of the rehabilitation period. In addition, the offense in question should not have an imprisonment sentence that exceeds five years. After the expungement process, a candidate can successfully apply for a desired position as he/she will be free from a negative criminal record.

The Type of Person Needed to Be a Cop and the Risks and Benefits Involved

A person, who qualifies for becoming a cop, ought to have certain traits that make him/her eligible for the appointment. For instance, a cop is expected to be able to solve problems by applying relevant judgements within a short time span. In addition, such a person should demonstrate assertiveness, exhibit high levels of integrity, engage in team work and exercise empathy and compassion where needed. It is also important to acknowledge and comprehend community issues and concerns, perseverance and working effectively with individuals from varying backgrounds and ethnicities.

A cop should also have the ability to apply the current best practices, accept criticism constructively, be approachable and accountable for his/her actions. They should serve the community by caring for their safety. A cop is a person, who can seamlessly apply his/her leadership skills in handling disputes, working through difficult predicaments and solving altercations amicably (Bultema 72). The required physiological attributes are pertinent to the ability to have excellent vision, being mentally sound, physically fit and have excellent hearing aids. Cops are people, who exercise intrinsic motivation, as they are driven by a positive attitude that does not stem from any extrinsic sources (Fyfe 118). Their attitude is to always shine their shoes for themselves and not for anybody else. The act of policing is not a game and cops should always be prepared for whatever a day might bring forth.

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The risks involved in being a cop are that they are required to handle criminal cases, which call for bravery because of the inherent risks involved. A criminal might attack back and a cop might be badly injured or even lose his/her life depending on the severity of the attack. Murder threats faced by police officers are intense and cannot be compared with other occupations. A practical example is Randall Simmons, who was killed in the line of duty in 2008.

Cops are also faced with the risks of facing harmful pathogens because they are the first people who come to scenes of accidents. Their presence makes them susceptible to either air borne or blood pathogens. Similarly, their chances of being faced with diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis are always on the rise. Even though they undergo relevant training on how they ought to protect themselves, at times there is no time to put on protective gear because of critical situations (Siegel & Worrall 113). Moreover, one should only be a cop if he/she is prepared to deal with traffic fatalities. They face many challenges, like drunk drivers, because criminals may resort to attacking officers in order to escape and avoid being caught. Due to these risks, it should be important to expose the police recruits to stress management training because it can be traumatic coming across a dead body or a dangerous threat for the first time. Even though the duties of a cop revolve around ‘serving and protecting’, the duties can be hazardous to the wellbeing of the police officers.

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Shape, Age Limit and Education Levels for Police Officers

In order to be eligible for qualification of being an LAPD officer, a candidate will be expected to have attained the age of twenty one years. However, in the event of a candidate not having attained the age of twenty one years, they are allowed to take a written test as long as they are six months away from being 21 years on the day of taking the tests.

As for the education levels, a police officer will be expected to have attained a college degree from an accredited United States College or other foreign institution. Alternatively, a candidate must have graduated from high school in the U.S or have a certificate from California High School Proficiency Examination.

As for the shape, a police officer must be physically fit and at least six feet tall. However, an applicant will be expected to undergo a physical abilities test the ulterior objective of which is to measure strength, endurance and agility of the applicant.

Training and Rank Promotions

The LAPD career leader can either be through a promotion or an assignment to a higher grade. As soon as the applicants qualify and are taken in by the police department, they undergo a training of six months after which they are deployed in the practical arena to serve as patrol officers (Siegel & Worrall 131). The time spent on patrol might be between two to three years after which they become eligible for promotions. The typical career ladder for a police officer in Los Angeles includes police officer I, police officer ii and police officer iii. Higher ranks include Sergeant I, sergeant ii, detective I, detective ii, and detective iii. A detective can be then promoted to Lieutenant I, Lieutenant ii, Captain i, captain ii and captain iii. Higher ranks that follow include commander deputy chief I, deputy chief ii and the chief of police. The chief of police is the highest ranking officer as well as the general manager in the police department.

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The Ego and Divorce Rate of Police Officers

The divorce rate of police officers has always been a controversial issue for quite some time now. The high divorce rate of police officers is attributable to how demanding their duties are depending on the areas of specialization. Others are compelled to attend to critical emergencies in the wee hours and may be on duty for long hours. Subsequently, the stress levels the officers are confronted with might have a detrimental impact on their families. Less time will be spent with their families and their wives might feel the levels of compassion offered to them are insufficient.

Other cops work late at night only to return home to find their spouses leave for work. The degree of devotion required as a police officer is what makes women feel as if their husbands are married to their jobs and thus seek for divorce. Moreover, officers are accustomed to authoritative positions and in most cases they find themselves bringing such habits to their homes. They might demand their partners to say where they are, what they are doing, who they are with and what they are up to. Consequently, the wives feel that their freedom is being compromised and the situation may reach a point where it becomes too much for them to take and thus they might opt for divorce.

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Police officers have an ego because they are used to taking advantage of their position to get things done through commands. In addition, cops feel superior because they have been accorded some extra privileges that have not been availed to ordinary citizens. The officers are also portrayed as individuals, who are invincible and are always right (Urbina et al., 90).

Police officers are social beings because their roles revolve around protecting and serving the community. To fully play their roles, they have to be special and amicable with residents, who can also provide useful information in the event of orchestration of an investigative procedure. However, even though police officers are social individuals, their social traits do not extend when handling criminal or criminal cases because they have to exercise the law to punish the criminals. A vast majority of police officers are strict parents because they extend their privileges to their households while others vent out their work frustration on their family members. They get used to issuing orders and at times they don’t draw the line on where they are supposed to issue the orders (Anderson & Gardner 98).

When Can Cops Apply Deadly Force?

Cops are allowed to apply deadly force only when they are sure they have come across a tough criminal that has been hiding for a significant period of time (Belur 78). Cops have also been given the mandate to use deadly force to defend themselves when a criminal is heavily armed. Before applying deadly force, police officers are expected to issue a verbal warning and use warning shots as well (Anderson & Gardner 112). However, whether officers should use deadly force to shoot a fleeing suspect is still a controversial issue. Officers can also apply deadly force if they are assured that the application of force will prevent crime and effectuate arrest (Fyfe 89).


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For officers, writing reports is not a key component of their job because of time; the cops are expected to be in the practical field of maintaining law and order by serving and protecting citizens. Corrupt cops are severely punished as they breach the moral and ethical conducts that officers should uphold. In extreme predicaments, a cop may be suspended for taking part in corrupt practices (Belur 112).

Cops like donuts because most donut shops are located in strategic places where the cops can meet and converse with other officers during shifts. Donuts have high levels of sugar and carbohydrates and are sources of quick energy. After all, cops are just human beings, who love donuts because it’s a quick and sweet snack, which is inexpensive.


In order to be a cop in Los Angeles, one ought to conform to the requirements set by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). The requirements are comprehensive as they include educational background information and a polygraph test that confirms the accuracy of the provided answers. The profession also has some risks and rewards that the officers will be expected to put up with in the course of their duties.

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