From the Cop side: When I got out of the Regular Army in the late 1970’s, I figured I could get one of a few types of jobs. Since I had been a highly trained soldier in the Infantry, and as a truck driver, I started looking at:
1.) Being a hit man for the Mafia
2.) Being a truck driver
3.) Being a cop.
I found out the cops had a better medical and retirement plan, so that’s the route I took. …but I had no idea how to get a cop job. So, I asked a few of my buddies from high school who were going to the local Junior College and taking Administration of Justice classes. They said the classes were easy and you could meet girls there. I looked at them after a few minutes of thought and asked: “you mean you’d want to go out with a girl who wants to be a cop? She might kick your ass or something.”
So, using the GI bill I went to college. When I first started, I had no clue what I was getting into. After a few semesters, I started filling out applications for different agencies. In those days, there were lots of departments hiring and even more people trying to get hired.
One department I applied for had 6 openings. The Saturday of the written test there were about 600 people standing outside the room waiting to get in and take the test. I remember this old crusty police sergeant standing in front of everybody and yelling out: “Now listen up. If you are here to take the written police exam, raise your hand.”
All the hands went up. Then he said: “If you have ever been convicted of a felony crime, stand over there.” He pointed to another officer. About 50 people walked over and were told to go away.
Then the sergeant said: “If you have been convicted of the following crimes (he listed a few) or have ever been a drug user, dishonorable discharged from the US military, then step over there.”
About another 100 or so walked over and were told to go away. Then the sergeant said: “If you have any missing fingers, eyes, ears, toes, loss of hearing, vision less than 20/100, have had any of the following illnesses (he read off a few) then step over there.”
A bunch more walked over and were told to go away.
That got it down to about 200 of us to take the written test.
I past all the test, but that department found better people than me to work there...but I didn't give up.
Now days, we have 2 openings and we’re lucky if 10 qualified people apply. Then half of them have mental problems and will never work in police work. We try to pick the best (which makes me wonder how in the hell I ever go hired.)