Selecting a Police Agency

Large Agency vs Small Agency.

The goals and objectives of every single police agency in the U.S. is to “Protect and Serve” the citizens of the community for which it serves; however, police agencies and the way they meet those goals and objectives are as diverse as the communities in which they serve.

Police Officer candidates can and should use the internet to conduct research when searching for the best agency to work for that would best fit their own personal goals.  The larger Police Departments usually have multiple different positions where it can seem like you’re starting a whole new job every couple of years whereas the smaller agencies may have just a couple of different types of positions such as patrol and a detectives unit that may have just a few detectives.

For most of the Larger Agencies you may find these types of additional duties outside the scope of regular Patrol.


Bomb Squad

Dignitary Protection – Governors protection detail, Mayor’s Protection Detail.

Community engagement

Aviation Section

Criminal Investigations Division – Detectives investigating Homicides, Assaults, Gangs, Burglary’s, Drugs.

For the smaller agencies, depending on size, they may only have a patrol bureau.  Others may have a patrol bureau and then assign just a couple of Officers to a detectives unit.

For smaller to mid-size agencies, some locations may offer opportunities where multiple agencies combine their resources to develop Regional SWAT Teams or Regional Gang Investigation Units.

From a professional view point, candidates should ask themselves what kind of a career they see themselves doing for at least 20 years.  Do you want the opportunity to try different positions?  Have you always wanted to be a SWAT Officer or a Homicide Detective?  Some candidates feel they might be able to make a bigger impact on crime and the communities they serve if they worked for a smaller agency where they may have a more personal connection with the people in those communities.

From a personal viewpoint, If you’re a candidate with a family, there are additional concerns that should be taken into consideration.  Larger city’s often times come with a higher crime rate. If you have children, then you should realize that larger city’s will have larger schools and larger class sizes.  You may also take into consideration the career opportunities for your spouse.

Police Officer Candidates can find most of the information they need about a police agency by visiting that agency’s website.  I would also recommend going on a ride along with the agency or agencies you’re interested in working for.

Ken Emerson