Careers in law enforcement look nothing like the over-the-top depictions of police work on television and the big screen. The reality is, it's hard to find a good public servant. Finding a great public servant is even harder, but why?
Myths are in no short supply when it comes to hiring law enforcement officers. Some potential candidates mistakenly believe that they don't qualify, so law enforcement agencies should be vigilant against the top five common myths about hiring police officers.
Myth 1: Candidates need a degree in criminal justice to apply
A college degree isn't necessary to start a career in law enforcement. College degrees in criminal justice can put a rookie officer in a position of leadership as his or her career progresses over time.
The same concept holds true for any profession. Not having a college degree in no way disqualifies candidates from a career in public service. The only requirement is a desire to make communities safe and serve the good of the public.
Myth 2: All background checks are the same
This myth is arguably the root of the problem of finding proper law enforcement officers. Not so long ago, background checks were more or less comparable, but today, with so much of our lives online, technology must play a more significant role. For example, multi-jurisdictional background checks may not be working from the same data sources, which makes it difficult to confirm identity and a criminal record in a single search.
Myth 3: Fingerprint background checks aren't necessary
Also known as bio-metric background checks, fingerprinting potential candidates can reveal much more verifiable information than people assume. The key here is correct. Only about half of all court records in the U.S. are accessible online, and many jurisdictions across the country maintain records, even digital files, for a statutorily limited number of years. Sometimes all it takes is someone changing their name to beat a necessary background check with no bio-metrics involved.
Myth 4: Candidates must already know self-defense
There is no requirement that law enforcement candidates must know self-defense techniques before applying. The same holds true for marksmanship. Candidates can apply for police work without ever having discharged a firearm. Today, law enforcement agencies take a holistic approach to officer training.
It's not about knowing how to shoot straight but when to use deadly force, if at all. Most law enforcement officers retire after long careers without ever discharging their service weapons.
Myth 5: Background checks can't reveal personal biases
Technology, such as KENTECH’s platform, allows law enforcement agencies to build much richer profiles of prospective officers. A bio-metric background check is a great start, but that's only one part of the equation. Bias comes in many forms, so today, digital profiling is about digital fingerprinting by including data from new sources, such as social media.
Many misconceptions abound about the law enforcement hiring process, but these five myths are most common. By having a better understanding of the law enforcement hiring process, the confusion on what is fact and what is fiction becomes clear. Let’s not fall victim to the Hollywood tales that falsely identify the type of individual one must be to be a great public servant.