Preparing For Your New Career

One of MVPD’s patrol teams in briefing.

It is never too early or too late to start preparing for a career in law enforcement. The only automatic disqualifiers for a position as a police officer are felony convictions as an adult or any misdemeanor domestic violence convictions. If you have questions regarding your background, contact us at:

Mountain View Police Department
Personnel Services
1000 Villa St
Mountain View, CA 94041
JOINMVPD@mountainview.gov
(650) 903-6344

If you are under the age of 18 and you are interested in a career in law enforcement, here are some things you should prevent/control:

  • Alcohol and drug abuse: Being involved in drug use could hurt your opportunity become a police officer.  If you are planning a career in law enforcement consider the consequences of drug and alcohol usage.  Although alcohol is legal (if over 21), abuse can lead to life changing events that could have an adverse effect on your health, family and career in law enforcement.  Drug use is never a wise choice and it will have an effect on your career in law enforcement.  Drug and alcohol use is not an automatic disqualification.  Drug usage is taken under consideration and the decision is at the discretion of the Chief of Police.
  • Juvenile crimes: If you have made a conscious decision to become a police officer, the things you do as a juvenile could affect you becoming a police officer.  Juvenile criminal records will be addressed on a case by case manner.  The important thing is to cease any criminal activity and become a law-abiding, productive citizen of your community.

If you are over the age of 18, besides the above information, here are additional things to consider and control:

  • Employment History: Your conduct on the job is a factor that the Police Department reviews when considering you for potential employment. Be professional at your job and work well with your co-workers and management. While you may not get along with everyone, staying professional can earn you the respect of your co-workers and supervisors. Even a job working in the fast food industry will help you develop interpersonal skills with the public that is necessary for a job in law enforcement. Remember, police officers communicate with people from all walks of life, and must always maintain a professional demeanor. You can develop necessary communication skills at every job you work.
  • Credit History: Be responsible with your finances. Pay your bills on time and do not show irresponsibility by amassing a large debt in relation to your take-home income. A check of your credit history is conducted as a part of your background investigation. If you have bad credit, take the necessary steps to show that you are responsible enough to rectify the situation. (You can contact a credible non-profit, consumer credit counseling service to help you manage your debt.) It is wise to check your credit history with the three major credit agencies to verify its authenticity.
  • Education: The Mountain View Department requires potential recruit police officer candidates to possess 40 semester or 60 quarter units from an accredited university or college. These units do not have to be focused on a Criminal Justice or Administration of Justice major.
  • Physical Fitness: Prepare for the physical demands of the career field by keeping yourself physically fit. You must pass the physical agility test to move forward in the hiring process. This will also help you to prepare for the Police Academy’s Physical Training regimen, if you are hired.  The South Bay Regional Public Safety Training Consortium offers practice physical agility tests prior to the actual testing : http://theacademy.ca.gov/. Find out how you can prepare for the physical agility test here.
  • Know the Job:  Educate yourself by going on a “ride-along” with your local law enforcement agency. The Mountain View Police Department’s ride-along program allows authorized participants to accompany a patrol officer in his/her patrol vehicle for part of their shift. You will respond to a variety of service calls with that officer. You will see and hear everything that the officer does during your ride-along. It could be a busy night and you might get exposed to a lot of different situations, or it could be a slow night, and you may get the chance to ask the officer job related questions. It is the most realistic exposure to law enforcement. You may find yourself more excited about the prospect of becoming a police officer, or you may realize that becoming a police officer is not for you. Either way, it is a learning experience you won’t soon forget.
  • Know the Process: Getting a job in law enforcement takes time and patience once you turn in your application. We want to make sure we hire the best candidates, and besides the written, physical, and oral examinations, potential candidates must undergo a thorough background check, polygraph test, psychological exam, medical exam, and a Chief’s interview prior to getting hired. If you get hired, you will be paid to go through a 6-month intensive police academy where you must adhere to the rules, regulations, and protocols of the academy.
  • Know the Department: The Mountain View Police Department has a 12-month probationary period after the academy (18 months total). Once you pass the probationary period, you will become a full-fledged civil servant.  The Mountain View Police Department has a wide range of specialized units to transfer to throughout your career such as:  Person Crimes, Property Crime, Auto Theft, Narcotics, Robbery, Burglary, High Tech Crimes, Sexual Assaults-Child Abuse, K-9, Traffic (Motors), County Narcotics Task Force, FBI Task Force, School Resource Officer and more!

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