How to be a good police officer: 14 steps

Table of contents:

How to be a good police officer: 14 steps
How to be a good police officer: 14 steps

To be a good police officer, it takes dedication, hard work, and a willingness to always be learning. It is not a secret that it is a difficult job. If you prioritize service to your community, you will have started on the right foot. You can also work together with other officers to develop a sense of shared values and principles that they should focus on in their work. Then you will have a better idea of the specific skills you want to develop to fulfill your goals as a police officer.


Part 1 of 4: Establish a connection with your community

Be a Good Police Officer Step 1
Be a Good Police Officer Step 1

Step 1. Get out there and chat with people in your community

Take some time to walk the streets of your town. Talk to civilians just to get to know them better and introduce yourself. If people know the police officers in their community, they will have better relationships with them. You will have a better idea about the community and this will help you protect it and solve problems, if any.

Be a Good Police Officer Step 2
Be a Good Police Officer Step 2

Step 2. Participate in community events

There are many ways that police officers can positively impact their community outside of their regular work. See them as opportunities to strengthen ties with local residents and help them build trust in their police force. Try things like the following:

  • run a toy drive for toddlers
  • organize "Shop with a Cop" events at the end of the year parties and back to school times as a way to help financially needy children and families
  • Volunteer to visit schools, community organizations, religious centers, and other places to meet people and discuss the work that police officers do
Be a Good Police Officer Step 3
Be a Good Police Officer Step 3

Step 3. Study the demographics of your community

If you want to serve your community in the best way, you need to know as much as you can about it. Talking face-to-face with people will tell you something about what is important to them and what concerns them. Also, getting an overview of your community will help you to serve it sensitively. Consider census data and other sources to learn things like the following:

  • What is the average age in my community?
  • In what age range are most of the people?
  • What is the breakdown of the population in terms of gender, race and ethnicity?
  • What is the median household income in the area?
Be a Good Police Officer Step 4
Be a Good Police Officer Step 4

Step 4. Learn about biases and how to overcome them

Serving a diverse community is the reality of police officers. It is important that you identify the biases that could impact your thinking so that you can overcome them to make good decisions in your police work.

  • When biases are not controlled, they can lead to problems such as racial categorization. Evidence shows that they can be overcome with proper training.
  • Ask your superiors to organize a diversity workshop to help officers.
  • Invite experts who are trained in the areas of diversity and bias to speak to your police force.
Be a Good Police Officer Step 5
Be a Good Police Officer Step 5

Step 5. Be as communicative as possible with the media

Sometimes you need to withhold information from the press, especially in the case of ongoing investigations. However, if you appear unnecessarily reserved, this will make it more difficult for people to trust law enforcement.

  • In case you can give the media the information they ask for, do so.
  • In case you are unable to release information for any reason, say something like, "I cannot comment on this right now because the investigation is ongoing. However, I promise to release that information to the public as soon as possible."

Part 2 of 4: Developing Your Values

Be a Good Police Officer Step 6
Be a Good Police Officer Step 6

Step 1. Talk to other officers about their police culture

Ask each member of the police force to which you belong to make a list of the five values that are most important to him as an officer. Then share them with each other and talk about them.

Ask yourself: what kind of relationship do these values suggest that you have with each other and with the community? Is it an "us versus them" relationship or do you see yourself working together with the community?

Be a Good Police Officer Step 7
Be a Good Police Officer Step 7

Step 2. Come up with a list of official values

Now is the time for both you and the police force to which you belong to establish what they should aim for as officers. Look at the lists of values and determine the ones that are important enough to be officially adopted. Then make the list and share it with law enforcement. Ask questions like the following:

  • What goals do you want to achieve in your community?
  • How do you want the public to perceive the police force to which you belong?
  • How will you evaluate yourself to make sure you do your job well?
  • How will officers be reprimanded for not doing good service?
Be a Good Police Officer Step 8
Be a Good Police Officer Step 8

Step 3. Share your list of values with the public

If you want members of your community to trust you and understand the important work that officers do, educate them about your values. See if it is possible to share the list of official values on the website or social networks of the police force you belong to so that people can be aware. They will appreciate seeing statements on principles that are recognized as fundamental to police work, including the following:

  • defend democracy
  • protect human life
  • prevent and solve crimes
  • involve the community

Part 3 of 4: Coping with work-related stress

Be a Good Police Officer Step 9
Be a Good Police Officer Step 9

Step 1. Focus on developing a sense of compassion for others

The basis of police work has to do with protecting and serving people. If you want to do well, you must see through the eyes of others and try to feel what they are doing. Having compassion helps you make good decisions, especially in the heat of the moment.

  • For example, if you find yourself in the middle of a domestic dispute in which one of the parties is upset, compassion will help you realize that their anger is not necessarily directed at you to be threatening but only to express how annoying it is.
  • Similarly, if you learn to recognize the signs of mental illness, you will be able to understand when a person's behavior is due to illness and not criminal intent.
Be a Good Police Officer Step 10
Be a Good Police Officer Step 10

Step 2. Resort to conflict resolution and not the use of force

There are times when force is necessary to protect citizens or yourself. However, he considers the question of whether or not to use force as a matter of human life and not of keeping the law.

  • Before using force against a person, ask yourself questions such as: "Is it necessary to use force in this case? Did I do everything I could to protect this person's life without using force?"
  • Even though you were required to receive training in the proper use of force, ask your superiors if they can organize a refresher course for officers.
Be a Good Police Officer Step 11
Be a Good Police Officer Step 11

Step 3. Find a work-life balance

Being a police officer can be very stressful. If stress builds up and you don't deal with it properly, it can lead to serious mistakes at work. As an officer, you must not hurt anyone or simply do less than your best due to stress. Set aside time regularly to relax and distract yourself from the worries of work.

  • Try to spend time with your friends and family as often as possible.
  • Take a vacation in case you get the chance.
  • Consult with a mental health specialist if you feel that stress is having an impact on your job performance.

Part 4 of 4: Improve Your Skills

Be a Good Police Officer Step 12
Be a Good Police Officer Step 12

Step 1. Find a mentor

If there is a more experienced officer you can turn to for guidance, it will make a big difference. From a mentor you will get not only moral support but also practical knowledge. If your police force doesn't already have a formal mentoring program, ask about starting one.

Try doing something like meeting your mentor once a month for lunch and talking about how things are going

Be a Good Police Officer Step 13
Be a Good Police Officer Step 13

Step 2. Advance your education

Studies show that officers who get an advanced education do better at their job. You might consider getting a degree in an area like criminal justice if you don't already have one. If you already have a degree, you could also look for an advanced degree (for example, a master's degree) or just take continuing education classes in areas such as the following:

  • criminal justice
  • conflict resolution
  • interpersonal communication
  • Informatic security
  • Forensic Science
Be a Good Police Officer Step 14
Be a Good Police Officer Step 14

Step 3. Request an evaluation in case you haven't received one in a while

Talk to your command officer about your job performance. Which are your strenghts? Your weaknesses? What areas should you focus on improving? Feedback like this is invaluable when trying to become a better police officer.

Expert advice

Focus on these areas to be the best officer you can be:

  • Continues to grow.

    As a police officer, you are bound to make mistakes. While you could do some things that would end your career (for example, drink and drive or use excessive force), these will generally be minor matters and you just have to learn from it and move on.

  • Stay connected with the community.

    Get out there and chat with the community and try to get the big picture. Attending a school event and reading to children is just as valuable as going out to stop cars and look for criminals.

  • Be strong.

    When you're a police officer, it can be very easy to slip into a negative mindset where you don't trust anyone, especially after you've been at that job for a while. However, the vast majority of people respect police officers in general and truly value them. Therefore, do not alienate your friends and family.


  • Also avoid neglecting your health and fitness. Eat well and exercise so that you are physically prepared for your work.
  • Be careful to carry at least one pen with you at all times to write fines and note information to use or give to others.

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