Is it possible to become a cop for only a few years?

In the last few days a strange notion has popped into my brain and refuses to go away. I’ve been thinking that working in law enforcement would be a valuable experience that could lead to other opportunities. So I’ve been wondering if it is possible to become a police officer for only 2-3 years. Of course, the academy process would eat up 6 months or so, and most departments have a 1 year probationary period. Is there any reason this cannot be done?

So long you didn’t tell them about it up front, there’s no reason you can’t do this. be forewarned, however, that rookie policeman are generally not paid all that well, and IIRC equipment and uniform expenses are a significant front end cost for new hires. In addition the job can be dangerous and tedious. Beyond this what exactly do you think a 3 year stint as a policeman is going to qualify you for other than low paid security work. The better paying transitional jobs are generally reserved for Law enforcement personnel with a lot of experience.

My little brother is a college student at LSU. He is majoring in Mass Communication but also had an interest in law enforcement. He got himself a spot on the campus police force somehow and slowed his class schedule way down. LSU is the size of a small city and the officers on campus are full Louisiana police officers. He loves it and he will be a detective soon. I assume that he will do something different when he gets his degree but who knows.

Trust me, I’m under no illusions about the quality of the assignments or the pay. Nor do I intend to pursue a career in law enforcement, or any field where someone would say “oh, you were a beat cop for a year” and offer me a killer job. Im interested in this for experience only. How would you leave the job that early? Super-early retirement?

My brother was a cop for a few years. What he did was, he quit. His wife convinced him to change careers after they had a couple of kids. She wanted him to be doing something safer and he agreed.

Policemen are expected to buy their own uniforms and equipment?

Couldn’t you simply resign?

For sure you can, but it is not cost effective as pointed out by Astro Quitting is as easy as quitting. I do warn you, you pay an emotional price. Those tv reality shows are mostly BS. For example, the barely breathing thing that arrives at the ER is the cleaned up version, after the first responders (usually cops) and the EMT’s (angels from above) get done. It is an ugly business. I would not recommend it as a lark. There are few things in life so scary as making life and death decisions with only a few milliseconds to decide, and damn little information to work with. My answer is yes you can, but my advice (take it or leave it) is you really think about it before you do.

My uncle became a cop and only lasted two years. The job was so stressful he started drinking a year later and one night he broke into a elementary school while wasted and ended up leaving his gun in there, thankfully a teacher saw it in the morning and reported it. He “resigned” the next day. But to answer the OP, I don’t see why not, it’s a free country. But that’s a lot of training to just quit after a few years.

I spent 35 years with a Fire Department, and personally watched over 40 cops transfer over to the FD when their name came up on the civil service list for Firefighter. Some with one year, some with more than ten.
I, myself, when I was in my ‘what the hell do I want to do in life’ phase, applied for, and took the civil service tests for Firefighter, Police Officer, State Trooper, County Sheriff, and Corrections Officer.
I DID NOT want to be in law enforcement, but my Dad told me to always have a back up, so I applied for all, and hoped that Fire would come a-callin’ first.
It did, and it ended up being the best job on Earth.
The Police and Fire pension system in my state are joined. If you spend 5 years on the Police Dept., those five years go with you when you transfer. Big plus. To a man, these guys who quit the Police said that Fire had been their first choice, but Law Enforcement had given them the benefits and pension rights they wanted while they were in a holding pattern for the FD.
And, the benefits and pension , in my City, at least, are identical, so, it made no nevermind to the City.
(…and we had beds to sleep in. :smiley: )

To ltfire: Thanks, you guys in the bunker suits bailed us guys in the blue suits out more than once.

I first thought that you were going to insinuate that becoming a cop for a few years would be a valuable experience if you wanted illegal opportunities. There have been a few cases in which gang members have infiltrated the police Gangsters becoming Cops

I don’t understand why this is a question. The answer to how you leave any job at any time is you quit. Why would this be any different?

Yes, in most cities.

Often there is a uniform allowance given, but it’s usually only enough to buy 1 uniform a year. If you don’t want to wear the same uniform all week, you will have to spend some of your own money to get extras. Cop uniforms tend to get dirty quickly. And you may want to get both the heavy, long-sleeved winter shirt(s), and the lightweight, short-sleeved summer one(s). Plus both the winter and summer coat, plus the optional raincoat. Etc.

Often your gun itself is supplied by the city. But that’s just the basic weapon. Many cops prefer a different one, with more stopping power, or lighter, or from a different manufacturer. Most cities have lists of allowable optional weapons, but if you choose anything other than the basic gun, you have to pay the price difference yourself.

And that’s only the gun, belt & side holster or shoulder holster you have to buy yourself. (I used to work at a leather store that gave discount coupons to cops when they graduated from the academy. And gave good prices, too – we were in an area of town where we liked having cops coming into the store frequently.)

The cops don’t buy their own uniforms here. Everything but their socks and underwear is supplied by the department. Everything. Plus is is replaced regularly as it becomes worn or if your sizes change. Plainclothes police get a generous clothing allowance. No variance in the gun is allowed. You use the one the city gives you, and they are replaced every few years.

Training here in TN is 8 weeks at the Police Academy plus whatever trainig the individual department gives you, which varies, obviously.

Some small departments still require you to supply your gun, but they are disappearing.

And you’re right Cunctator: you quit by quitting. I’m with Gary T in being confused by the question.

Yeah, this is what the quote box above was supposed to look like. I’m not sure what happened to Cunctator’s name. Sorry.

I’ve worked for four different departments, and leaving is as easy as what others have said. In some parts of the country, part-time officers are quite common (I know of some departments in Penn. that are 100% staffed by part-timers), so you might consider either starting as a full-timer then reverting to part-time if that option is available in your area and it makes sense for you.

I’m sure there are departments where you must pay for your uniform, but none of the four I worked for are like that, nor were any of the neighboring departments. At the time, the officer supplied the sidearm for half of those four, but I suspect at least one (if not both) have since gone to department-issued pistols (which I’m sure is a contentious issue).

I don’t know where you are located but here in California that is not much of an issue. My son looked at both LAPD and CHP. Pay for both was IMHO excellent for the first year. CHP told him that with O/T he could expect $60,000 - $62,000 his first full year on the force. LAPD was somewhat lower, but not chickenfeed.

In many/most non-urban areas it’s a very different story. Thare are police with over 20 years on the force that don’t even make that (60K +) in many areas.

Ditto. Could the OP clarify this?

All the interesting info about what it’s like to be a cop aside, why would it be any harder to just quit this job after a few years than any other job?

Sorry, what I meant was, would you be able to retire, and collect some sort of benefits, or would you quit, and not have any of the benefits of being a retired LEO. I’m sure the answer is no, as I bet almost all departments require 15-20 years of service before you can retire (no matter how early), but its something to take into consideration.