Question Hey, my name is Andrew and I'm going to school for criminal justice at this time as a freshman in college. I want to become a SWAT member in the future and was wondering, should I go to school for more than two years? Or just go straight into a police academy after two years in my degree? Since I'm not going into the military, I also want to know if there is any other options to "stick out" from the others.
Answer Good Morning Andrew,
I highly recommend a four year degree versus a two-year degree. Many agencies are going to the requirement of a four-year degree just to get hired. As for SWAT the only way to get on that is to be hired by an agency and serve several years on the road as a patrol officer and then apply for a position on the SWAT team when one becomes available. The agencies around here have SWAT tryouts about every 2 to 3 years as members rotate in and out due to other assignments. SWAT is not a full-time position and you are a regular patrol officer until you are called out to a SWAT callout at which time you carry your gear in your car or it's in the SWAT vehicle and upon arrival at the scene or your called you change into your SWAT equipment.
If you want to get a head start on the testing process for SWAT I highly suggest a Crossfit styletype the training system with a lot of upper body strength improvement. If you go to Facebook and look up SFC Institute of public safety, you'll find a video of some of our SWAT guys running some of the obstacles on the SWAT course. The video also shows the SWAT course we can get an idea of what the type of thing shall be running an required to do. The other thing that you can do is practice marksmanship. By that I mean actually being able to aim and shoot a firearm, but the style of shooting that a SWAT member does is not the same as going to your local range and shooting at paper targets will standing still. If you want to see what it's like and some really good firearms training for SWAT try to find a Rogers shooting school class nearby that you can attend. They are expensive but they are worth the training that you receive.
In order to be hired by police agency you have to make yourself more marketable than the next person. There are a lot of people because of the economy applying for law enforcement jobs. You need to make sure that you are marketable and have more offer than the next person. A four-year degree is a good start, veterans get veterans preference points which usually places them at the top of the list. Although you say you're not entering the military have you thought about the reserves or the National Guard? Even though that is not active duty full-time it does give you veterans preference points and some extra cash, just trying to help you pad your resume. Plus the training you receive in the military will definitely benefit you when you comes to applying for SWAT position.
Of those suggestions help and good luck.
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Thank you so much for the time you took to answer my question. It provided more than enough information for me to get a head start.
I have been a police officer for 30+ years! I am the Police Academy Commander at the Santa Fe College, Institute of Public Safety in Gainesville Florida It is a full service Law Enforcement and Corrections training facility. I can answer most questions concerning law enforcement procedures, law enforcement training and general questions about law enforcment. I can also answer questions about becoming a law enfocement officer. I have a booklet and web page I have written that answers many questions about how to become a police officer called "So you want to be a cop (police Officer) in Florida?", which is free, Google it.. All you have to do is ask. I teach the following subjects: RADAR/LASER, Law Enforcement Driving, Law Enforcement Firearms and Patrol Techniques, Officer Safety, WMD's for Patrol Officers, Application of Law, Communications skills, Dealing with the Mentally and physically handicapped, and many more subjects. I have worked as a subject matter expert for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and helped to write the police curriculum for the State of Florida.
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I am a 30+ year veteran police officer, I am currently the Police Academy Commander of an Academy in North FLorida. I have been training police officers since 1993 and have trained them in all aspects of law enforcement, including firearms, Driving and legal subjects including patrol techniques and others and training all over the world. I have trained over 5000 officers worldwide in the last 16 years of training.
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Education/Credentials I have 2 degrees, in Criminal Justice.
Awards and Honors Phi Theta Kappa, plus 50+ Departmental Awards over the years. FBI Directors award for assisting in a Nationwide investigation into Child pornography.