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Law enforcement as a career

Law enforcement offers a wide range of post-military careers. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

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Like military members who serve the nation, police officers serve in municipalities, counties and states around the country.

For those thinking about a law enforcement career after the military, the field offers an opportunity to continue serving.

"It is an extremely rewarding career," wrote Sgt. Scott Novasky, in an email. "Over my career, I have been fortunate enough to be involved in projects that made a significant difference in the lives of individuals and communities in a positive way."

An Army veteran who served in the Military Police Corps, Novasky is the professional standards officer at the Lakewood Police Department. He offers a great deal of practical advice to those thinking about a career in law enforcement.

The first piece of advice is that prospective police officers should do their homework about the duties of police officers, regardless of where they may be thinking of working.

"Knowing exactly what we do will go a long way in guiding how to prepare yourself for this field," Novasky said.

Going on ride-alongs with local police officers is a good way to accomplish this.

For those who are already serving in a law enforcement field in the military, Novasky suggests that they take advantage of every available training opportunity.

"Teamwork, leadership, and emotional intelligence are all very important qualities we look for in new officers," he explained. "The military provides opportunities to learn and excel in these areas."

Within the law enforcement field, there are a wide variety of specialties ranging from patrol officer, K9 duties and detective to gang-suppression teams, internal affairs and community, and neighborhood policing.

Novasky also touched on a point that cannot be stressed enough -- having an education.

"I wish I would have devoted more of my effort in continuing my schooling," he said.

"More and more police agencies are seeking candidates with a college degree; this will expand the possible departments one can apply to."

Rounding off his list of suggestions, Novasky stressed the need to prepare for the oral interview.

"I can't understate how stressful and uncomfortable it can be in a 30-minute oral board if you have not adequately prepared."

To underscore his point, Novasky offered some very important advice that can make the difference between employment or not -- practice in front of a mirror.

"Practice answering the ‘tell us about yourself' or ‘what have you done to prepare?' questions by standing in front of a mirror.  It may sound and look a little silly, but it will make a huge difference."

Novasky pointed out that Joint Base Lewis-McChord servicemembers can take advantage of Camo2Commerce, an organization that helps them transition from military to civilian employment.

"One of the leaders in that organization, Dave Guttu, is a retired lieutenant from our department; he runs mini-tests and mock interview training for folks wanting a job in law enforcement," Novasky said.

For more information about a career in law enforcement, contact

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