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Careers: Police/become a law enforcment officer

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QUESTION: Dear Mr.Rogers,
  My name is Joseph and I'm 18 years old, I've always wanted to become a police officer ever sense I was a young boy. About a year and three months ago while I was 17 two friends and I were stupid and decided to drag items such as trash cans and shopping carts into parked vehicles. We were later caught by the local police department. I went through a diversion process which I completed on time. What I'm worried about is if I can still become a police officer or if I messed myself up by doing what I did. If I can still become a police officer what would I put down for my criminal history sense I was never formally charged with anything even though I did go through a diversion process. Thank you and I hope to hear from you soon.
         Joseph

ANSWER: Joseph, sorry for the delay in answering...my computer was giving me fits.  My response to you is one i've given to many others with your problem.  You can view your early misdeeds in two ways...take a heavy hand to it or use a light touch.  What I mean is that you shouldn't make too much of what I would describe as an early glitch in your behavior.  You strayed...you were caught...and you learned from it.  When it comes time to describe your antics to a recruitment board, I would describe it as an enlightening experience...the time when your attitude and you perspective morphed into the adult realm and you realized that things like this can have lasting effects.  If you do not have a criminal record and your life is free of much more damaging behaviors (drugs,booze), I would think you have nothing to worry about.  What you have to think about now is a college education in that most officers today have a four-year degree under their belts. Think about how impressive your application will be with that!  Good luck.

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QUESTION: Mr.Rogers,
  Thank you so much for your response it makes me feel alot better knowing that I didn't screw myself up because of the glitch in my behavior. I am glad to say I've never touched any type of illegal drug nor do I drink. I was planning on doing some classes on criminal justice. I already have a couple of credits from high school for college from my law and public safety class. But what I was considering was doing the military and becoming a military police officer until I'm the age to get out and work for a local police department. What I'm trying to get at is in your opinion am I better off doing college plus also doing a explorers program with Las Vegas metro or going into the military and starting my career a bit early. I hope to hear from you soon thanks again.
         Joseph

Answer
Joseph, it really depends on your circumstances.  If you can afford to attend college without having to join the military (they will underwrite your college education for a 4-year hitch, I believe), I would oft for that...the main idea is that with a college degree, you can offer more to the department you join and well as prepare you for advancement.

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Dick Rogers

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I`ve spent twenty-five years in law enforcement as a state trooper and deputy sheriff. Retired as a lead homicide investigator. My interest is in answering questions dealing with ethical and moral dilemmas facing officers in the field.

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