So I've been deployed for about 3 months.
I have 8 months left until i get home. When I get back home I'll be off of active duty and be in the National Guard. Having talked to my buddy who is a sherrifs deputy and one of our plt sgts who is a police officer. I've decided I want to pursue a career in law enforcement. I have around 10 college credits, however by the end of this deployment I will have near 4 years of military service as an Infantrymen. I have State/Federal TA and my GI Bill to pay for school.
I've read that many of the departments in NC have there own academy and that community colleges have BLET. I would have to pay with GI Bill for BLET and acadamy would be payed for by the PD. Would using my GI Bill and doing BLET increase my odds? Or would being an Infantrymen for 4 years and 2 deployments be enough for a hire onto an academy. I have a clean driving record and no misdemeanors. I max my PT Test and am a expert with M4/sharpshooter M9.
Along with that, how do you enjoy life as a LEO? Is a police department better than a sherrifs department? Any tips?
No idea about the specific North Carolina academy situation. if it were me, I'd contact a department you want to apply for and ask them point blank if you'd have to go through a community college program before getting into one of the academies. That's the only way to know for sure.
I can only tell you what it was like for Nebraska. In Nebraska there are 4 academies... one for the Omaha Police Department, one for the Lincoln Police Department, one for the Nebraska State Patrol and one for everyone else. There was no college requirement to gain entry into any of those academies from what I know (I know Omaha and the State run Basic for everyone else didn't) but you did have to pass the entry requirements to get in.
I'm not military but several of my classmates were. They all used their GI bill while AT the academy. Got paid to be at the Academy by their departments and by the government to be there. From what they told me, they could continue to use the GI bill all the way through field training at a reduced rate. Lucky SOBs!
Life as a LEO is challenging, but not insurmountable. Smaller communities seem to be harder because everyone recognizes you off duty which is neither good or bad from my perspective. It just means you need to be more vigilant. Smaller communities tend to support their LEO's much more though which is nice. It is an extremely stressful job, the hours suck and the clientele rarely enjoy your presence but the job is extremely rewarding in other ways. The benefits usually kick ass and the job "pays out" in the long run. It will change who you are and you WILL lose friends because of it but you'll gain new ones, and have a huge family.
Me, personally, I was hired in November of 2013 and haven't "worked" a day since. I've busted my ass and done a shit ton of stuff that people would consider work, but I'm enjoying it so much right now that I can't say I would call it "work." It was never about the money for me, it was about being a part of the solution and not on the sidelines. It was about trading "consistent" work for something more dynamic. I've gotten every bit of that and more and I can't really complain about the pay either because it isn't that bad. Don't get me wrong, it isn't great and I would definitely take more!
Have you ever done any ride alongs before? I would suggest finding a department you want to work for and seeing if they offer them and then do a bunch. Don't rule out small departments either. Some of the best times can be had in smaller departments when things operate more like a family (for better or worse) and less like a corporation.
As a last piece of advice, because you are military, when you get to an interview, I'd not rely too heavily on your expertise in combat to carry you through an interview. With the current climate with regards to police work, those skillsets are going to be less and less appealing to city councils. I'm not saying you shouldn't be proud of being in the infantry and the time served in the US military, just don't make it the cornerstone of why you would be a good cop because use of force is less than 1% of all contacts you'll make and even fewer than that with any form of firearm or in lethal force situations. I would focus on how that experience has given you the opportunity to fine tune your interpersonal skills and problem solving skills and downplay the actual combat portion of it as much as possible.