You Will Never Be Bored – Assignment Diversity

You will never be bored again! Very few professions provide a wider choice of assignment opportunities than law enforcement. The breadth and scope of specialty assignments available are staggering. The number of specialty details available is dependent upon the mission, size, and capabilities of the agency, but the universal truth is the larger the agency, the greater the opportunities, and the smaller the agency the fewer the opportunities. Most everyone will begin at the lowest rung of the latter. If you work with a sheriff's department you may begin in corrections. If you work for a municipal police department you will likely start off on Patrol. The following are a listing of a few specialty units available at medium and large-sized law enforcement agencies.


     Aviation Unit

   K9 Unit

    Marine Unit

Traffic Unit

     Narcotics Unit

   Vice Detail

    Gang Unit

Robbery Unit

     Intelligence Unit

   Crime Analysis


Auto Theft

     Economic Crime

   Internal Affairs

    Media Relations


     Defensive Tactics


    Homicide Unit

These factors all need to be taken into consideration when choosing an agency to apply to. Larger agencies allow for movement between units and a greater opportunity for advancement. If your ultimate goal is to be a pilot in an aviation unit, but you are hired by a department without aircraft you will eventually need to transfer to a different agency. If your goal is to be a detective and you work for a 15 person agency with two detective positions you may very well get the position in due time, but in a larger agency, there might greater opportunity.

I encourage everyone to thoroughly investigate all of the individual aspects discussed in this chapter before selecting an agency. Although it is entirely possible to start with a smaller agency and later transfer to a larger one with more opportunities, it is not always possible nor wise.  My best advice is to carefully select an agency you could spend an entire career with. The “grass is not always greener on the other side,” and I have seen numerous people leave my own agency thinking there were better opportunities elsewhere, only to eventually find just the opposite. Some of these officers realized their error and were rehired, but lost seniority in the process. Others we were glad to be rid of and did not rehire them when they asked to return. So, there is a risk if you leave your first agency of a negative outcome. Hedge your bet and try and find an agency you can live with for the rest of your career.

The geographic location, population density, economic stability, tax base, crime rate, and level of budgetary support factor into the size of an agency and thus the number of specialty units needed to support their mission. The larger and better-funded an agency is the more specialty units there tends to be. We will discuss some of these statistics later in the book.

Choose your agency wisely if you desire to work on several assignments throughout your career. I was fortunate to have worked in every division and many of the specialty units. I had other colleagues who were afforded many opportunities to promote or move to other assignments, but were perfectly happy to work Patrol for their entire career - the choice is yours if the agency you select has unlimited opportunities.

Research as much as possible about an agency BEFORE you apply. My recommendation to to not apply to any more than three agencies at a time. Given this limitation, they should be your top three picks. If you find yourself not being selected, these rejections can haunt your future application prospects and hinder your future selection as the background investigators start to wonder why you were not hired by the other agencies you applied for.

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