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#TDT…Casey Bokavich A day in the life of a Police Sergeant!

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Our profession has numerous openings across the country that cannot be filled due to a lack of qualified candidates. The profession is actively looking for citizens from all walks of life to be a part of our team. We need you….

1. What is your current job title and how did you decide on this career choice? Casey Bokavich

My name is Casey Bokavich. I am a sergeant with the Redding Police Department. I have been in law enforcement for 26 years. My current assignment is the “Administrative Sergeant”. In essence the administrative sergeant deals with the “business” side of our operation. I am responsible for hiring, equipment, training and a whole host of other duties.

2. What types of qualities are important for this career choice? (What do employers look for? Tips to help them get hired)

We are looking for a who has demonstrated a track record of the following character traits and work habits. The information below is right out of the background investigation manual.

. MORAL CHARACTER

1. Integrity

• Honesty
• Impartiality
• Trustworthiness
• Protection of Confidential Information
Moral/Ethical Behavior

2. Impulse Control/Attention to Safety

• Safe Driving Practices
• Attention to Safety
• Impulse/Anger Control

3. Substance Abuse and Other Risk-Taking Behavior

HANDLING STRESS AND ADVERSITY

4. Stress Tolerance

• Positive Attitude and Even Temper

• Stress Tolerance and Recovery

• Accepting Responsibility for Mistakes

5. Confronting and Overcoming Problems, Obstacles, and Adversity

WORK HABITS

6. Conscientiousness

• Dependability/Reliability

• Personal Accountability and Responsibility

• Safeguarding and Maintaining Property, Equipment, and Belongings
• Orderliness, Thoroughness, and Attention to Detail

• Initiative and Drive

• General Conscientiousness
INTERACTIONS WITH OTHERS

7. Interpersonal Skills

• Social Sensitivity

• Social Interest and Concern

• Tolerance

• Social Self-Confidence/Persuasiveness

• Teamwork

INTELLECTUALLYBASED ABILITIES

8. Decision-Making and Judgment

• Situation/Problem Analysis

• Adherence to Policies and Regulations

• Response Appropriateness

• Response Assessment

9. Learning Ability

10. Communication Skills

• Oral Communication

• Written Communication

3. What is a typical day or week in your position like? What exactly do you do?

I have to start by stating my position is not what people aspire to do when entering law enforcement. My position is job within the department. One has to have obtained a large amount experience in various positions and rank in order to effectively perform in the admin sergeant role. I believe what is best is to describe a typical day of a police officer and that is not an easy answer. There is no telling what an officer will handle on any given day. Officers are charged with enforcing the laws of our state with the goal at improving the quality of life for all of our citizens. They handle calls for service from the community that can range from a barking dog complaint to a robbery call. It is that varied workload which makes the job so appealing to those that do it. Officers need to be able to work independently without direct immediate supervision due to the nature of our deployment from a centralized location (police station) to a beat.

4. What areas of study would you suggest for kids interested in your field? What path would you suggest?

This is a loaded question. Many departments require some level of college before one can apply. What we are finding in our profession is that many people do not have the basic writing skills needed to perform the job. Officers must be able to author accurate and detailed reports when investigating crimes. Many people choose to obtain a degree in criminal justice. I personally believe this is good, but not required. I would recommend that a person obtain a degree prior to entering law enforcement that will provide that an alternate skill set to prepare for another career should they discover law enforcement is not the career for them or if the get hurt and can no longer do the job. A four year degree is best if that is an option. Many departments provide a financial benefit for those that have degrees. Furthermore, if a peson chooses to promote, many departments require a four year degree.

Many young people may not have the opportunity to go to college due to family finances. In that case, I would recommend a young person to have a look at the military. That way a person can obtain a great deal of life experience and take college courses with the community colleges of the different services. A person will also earn a G.I. bill which could be used to go to college for say a business degree or find their attendance at a police academy at a community college.

5. What is one piece of advice you would give to someone interested in your field?

Make good decisions in your life EARLY. Mistakes or criminal violations committed early in life may preclude a person from being considered for employment during the background investigation process. This includes driving, theft, use of drugs…..it all gets looked at when we are selecting a person.

6.What is one myth buster you would like to share about your field?

Our profession can be very fun. There is nothing like it.

7.Did you take a linear path to get here? If not, what were some pivotal points that changed your direction? (setbacks, sacrifices, advice you received, life changes, realizations)

I did not set out to be a police officer. I wanted to be a Marine Corps pilot but due to having a asthma, I could not do that. I looked around a decided on law enforcement because it appeared to be a close to the military.

8. What personal qualities have helped you succeed in your career?

Work ethic and being able to talk with anyone, anywhere.

9. What do you most enjoy about your career?

I have been able to do a lot of different assignment’s. It has been exciting at times and I believe I have had a positive impact on my community.

10. What kind of work experience as a student would be the most beneficial for this career?

We look at work history. Does a person give more than is expected? Would the person be re-hired by a former employer? Any time a person can obtain prior experience where they can work independently and assume leadership roles is helpful. Do they show up on time? Can the person be trusted? Does the applicant do the right thing when no one is looking? Just remember that unlike other professions, we do an extensive background investigation to ascertain the if a person should be hired. From that point there is an extensive training and probationary period.

11. What education or training is required, if any, to reach your position?

In order to become a sergeant one must have been a successful police officer. From there a person would then move to a specialty assignment such as investigations or traffic. Advanced degrees are not required but desirable. Roughly 35% our department have master’s degrees.

12. If you weren’t in this career field, what other career would you be interested in? and why?

I have no idea. If would have to be something where I could work independently in an ever changing environment.

If there is anything else that you would like to add about you or your career for our LaunchPad readers, please do so here: (community involvement, advice, suggestions, etc.)

At the Redding Police Department we have what is called an “Explorer Post” which is a program from high school age people to learn more about law enforcement. Our Explorers are utilized at all of the city’s special events to assist with traffic control and other duties. The program is an excellent educational opportunity for any young person wishing to see if law enforcement is something they would like to do. More information about the Explorer Post can be had on the RPD website.

For college age young people we have a cadet program. This is a paid part time, non-benefitted position. Cadets work part time at the department doing a variety of support functions. Cadets are not used for any enforcement functions. This is a great way to gain experience at a police department. The department interviews for the position about once a year. Interested individuals should go to the city’s website and complete an electronic interest card for the position.

Find out more about Casey BokavichForce Options Training by Sergeant Casey Bokavich

 

#TDT Jason Williams…A day in the life of a Police Officer!

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts

1. What is your current job title and how did you decide on this career choice? 

Jason Williams, Commander of Support Services (Ret.) Bellwood Police Department Bellwood, ILWork Photo-2
21 year veteran of the force

I was 15 when I first thought about joining the police department only because my father was a police officer. In fact, he was the first black police officer in the Village of Bellwood in 1978. I was able to grow up watching him come home for lunch in uniform and he allowed me to sit in his police car and turn on the emergency lights. Seeing all this gave an unfair advantage to the field but I did not originally want to go in this direction. I first wanted to go to school to be a lawyer. As I got older I realized the overwhelming urge to go into law enforcement. So In 1994 I decided to apply to work part-time as a police officer. I figured I could actually work the job at a less intense level and still determine if I wanted to do this for a living. I worked 1 year as a part-time officer and was immediately hooked. In 1995, I got hired on as a full-time law enforcement officer.

2. What types of qualities are important for this career choice? (What do employers look for? Tips to help them get hired)

In today’s world of law enforcement employers like to see NO criminal background in their candidates. It doesn’t stop there but I want to focus on that area. When I go to middle and high schools to talk to the students on career day I always stress the importance of NOT having a criminal background. Most students don’t realize that criminal arrests, no matter how small follow them throughout their life. Even if you do commit a minor crime and get the arrest expunged your background will still show that you were arrested. It will not show why and the particulars of the case. And employers may pass over your application just from seeing the arrest. This is why I stress to teenagers to stay out of trouble and stay away from the trouble kids cause trouble can affect your tomorrow.

Police Departments usually like to see their candidates have other qualities like college degrees and military training. Having these experiences should show employers that you have some education and a “go- get’em” attitude. The education area shows that you can write and have the ability to accomplish a higher degree. The military background shows that you were able to accomplish physical fitness goals and are very disciplined. Because most police departments mirror a lot of what the military does and they love to have candidates with military experience. They actually get preference points for it and can be hired over other candidates without the experience.

They also like to see someone who is street smart and can navigate the town/city. People who have a heart and can talk to people. Sometimes book smarts is not always good without street smarts. In fact, in my opinion a person who is really book smart but has not street smarts may actually have a hard time working in the lawn enforcement field. May even be dangerous for them. There are so many other attributes that I think are important but that’s a whole other conversation.

3. What is a typical day or week in your position like? What exactly do you do?

For the last 10 years I was a supervisor so my day was mostly inside at a desk. I did a lot of phone calling and ordering supplies for the officers and department. I fixed computers in the station and in the police cars as well as the radio system. I wen to meetings several times a week and dealt with the public daily. I was the person who took care of customer service issues and complaints. I was also the Fleet manager so I had to get cars fixed, oil changed and items repaired. I was very busy and there was always something to do. I trained officers on computer software and reset passwords when they forgot them. I also hired new officers and gave them new equipment, set up their training etc. I was the “go-to” person in a medium size department and I was responsible for several different areas.

Prior to that, I was an officer on the street. I answered calls for help when people were fighting or stealing items from a store. I prevented crime by driving around looking for criminals daily. I also was a school liaison officer. I worked in the local junior high school for 8 hrs a day. I talked this the kids and help them through problems and when students were fighting with each other. I ran a conflict resolution program which helped kids talk through their differences and resolve disputes.

4. What areas of study would you suggest for kids interested in your field? What path would you suggest?

I would suggest kids get a criminal justice degree. I believe the higher you go the more opportunity comes your way. Not ALL police departments require a degree. Most only ask for a high school diploma. But if you think you may want to be promoted one day, a higher degree may help. Although, a higher degree is not required to be promoted either. If I had a chance to do it all over again I would have stayed in school to finish my college degree sooner and gone straight to the Federal Police (ie FBI, US Marshalls, DEA). A lot more opportunity and you get to see the world for free.

5. What is one piece of advice you would give to someone interested in your field?

See #4. But also, if you want to become a police officer, keep in mind you can not save the world. There are a lot of bad people out their who you can’t help. It is very dangerous and you could get hurt. If you’re not willing to give of yourself and go the extra mile to help those that may be less fortunate then this job may not be for you. You will no get rich but you might change a mind for the better and/or save a life. This is where your riches will be.

6.What is one myth buster you would like to share about your field?

Law enforcement is not rewarding and you are always in harms way. In today’s world it is kinda dangerous just because of a few bad seeds out their but overall it can be rewarding. Financially, depending on which department you are hired at you can make some good money. Overtime is a big deal with police work and can make you rich if you are disciplined with your money and put it in the right places. The best thing about la enforcement is that you get a pension that will pay you and your spouse until you leave this earth. After working 20 years you can retire and still be young enough to start another career. Most of the time officer move into high level management careers and really start to make $.

7. Did you take a linear path to get here? If not, what were some pivotal points that changed your direction? 

As stated previously, I watched my dad work in law enforcement and he is a lot of the reason why I went into law enforcement. If I had’ve gone to be a lawyer like I originally wanted to I probably be very well off (financially). But GOD evidently wanted me to touch hearts in a different way and I am thankful for my career.

8. What personal qualities have helped you succeed in your career?

I believe because I have a giving heart and have a vested interest in the neighborhood I grew up in to give back this has allowed me to be successful. You have to want to do the job and do it for a good reason. Not for the money or benefits. Whatever job you go into you have to have the drive to give back. This is what propels you to succeed in your position. Feeling good about what you do and who you do it for. Giving your best and knowing its helping or making a difference.
9. What do you most enjoy about your career?

I really enjoyed my co-workers and the citizens I helped. I saw many friends who I went to high school with and have helped their kids with projects or even law enforcement jobs. I was always a man of intergrity and I got a lot of positive feedback from the people in the neighborhood who felt I did a good job and treated them with respect. I am very thankful for this and to this day I am still invited to come and speak to the children on career day at the local schools.

10. What kind of work experience as a student would be the most beneficial for this career?

Internships always help. I recommend getting an internship and work at the business you are trying to go into. Sometimes you will find that the atmosphere you want is not exactly what you thought it might be. Plus you get to meet the important people that might hire you and they will see what kind of person you are and if your the right fit for the department.

11. What education or training is required, if any, to reach your position?

Most departments only require a high school diploma. But many are moving to requiring a bachelor’s degree. After you go through a written exam, physical exam and other testing you must attend the police academy for 4 months (apprx.)

12. If you weren’t in this career field, what other career would you be interested in? and why?

I would have become a lawyer. That’s what I originally wanted to become and since I am retired from law enforcement I may still go back to school to do this. I enjoy working around laws that govern our society. I believe I could have been a lot more financially stable in this career.

As a side note, I enjoy coming out to talk with kids in person about their career choices and the importance of keeping themselves out of trouble. This is another way I give back and makes my career choice all the more enjoyable. I hope this helps and do not hesitate in asking questions or more clarification.