Why Do You Want To Be A Police Officer?

Guest Blogger: Lieutenant Joey D. Benford, Prince George’s County Police Department (MD), Visiting IACP Fellow

One afternoon in 1995, I sat in front of a personnel board for an oral interview. My mission– to convince the board that I was a qualified candidate, and should be hired as a police officer.

I had waited for this day for over a year from the time of my initial application. The lengthy process to become a police officer had taken me through the wringer: there was the written test, medical evaluations, fitness evaluations, background investigation, credit checks, the psychological exam, and the infamous polygraph. But at this defining moment, as I sat in front of the personnel board and was asked “Why do you want to be a police officer?”, the first thing that came out of my mouth was the famous five words of every police recruit and rookie, “I want to help people.” There was a reason that my answer was so common and routine, because until I responded to my first call for service, “I didn’t know, what I didn’t know”.

I think that all police officers can remember at least one time in their career where they thought to themselves “Why I am doing this?” As we interact with members of the community every day the interactions can be positive or negative, and sometimes thankless but when the day is done, we get dressed the next day and come back for more.

19 years later, after 7 different assignments, a number injuries, promotions, and let’s not forget “age,” I would now like to change my answer.

The reason I wanted to be and still enjoy being a police officer is because I believe. I believe in the mission statement of my agency, I believe in the core values and principles of our society. I believe that this profession allows me to interact with people that I would normally never cross paths with. I am honored that society has chosen me to be a representative to many.

Police Officers are the 911 of society, both literally and figuratively. We are asked to deal with the things that most only experience on the internet or in movies. We put our lives on the line, not for a person, but for the purpose. Deep down inside we believe in the “purpose of the profession.”

Every year during the month of May as I remember and honor those that have made the ultimate sacrifice, I tell myself that those officers gave their lives serving “the purpose”. I will never forget the pain felt and the tears shed over the course of my career. Yet, I still wake up every day, I get dressed and I do it all over again. Why? I believe in the purpose.

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