Security Officer to Police Officer: Making the Switch

Security Officer to Police Officer: Making the Switch
Security Officer to Police Officer: Making the Switch

Getting your criminology and policing degree online from Wilfrid Laurier University is a convenient way to prepare for the leap from working as a security officer to a career in policing. If you’ve been employed as a security officer, you may have wondered what it would take for you to eventually transition to police work.

Here’s the good news: you’ve probably already developed many of the criminology and policing skills required to succeed in law enforcement. In this blog, we’ll describe some of these transferable skills. We’ve broken them down into three categories:

  • Practical skills that you use on the job day-to-day
  • Soft skills that help you to better support the public and be a team player
  • Mental skills that are important when it comes to analyzing complex situations

We’ll also discuss some practical steps to help you improve your skill set and stand out to the recruiters at police departments.

Practical Criminology Skills Required for Policing

Practical Criminology Skills Required for Policing

Patrolling is a major part of your role as a security officer. As a police patrol officer, you’ll find there are many similarities.

Instead of patrolling a retail outlet or office building, you’ll be responsible for a larger geographic area, also known as a patrol zone. In both roles, you need to patrol your area in a calm, collected manner. Your presence acts as a deterrent to crime and you may also be asked for help by residents.

As a security officer, you’ll likely have received some training in surveillance techniques. This training will be useful as an introduction to this key policing and criminology skill required for effective service.

As a police officer, you may need to stake out a suspect’s home or place of business or use advanced technology to collect evidence. Knowing how to unobtrusively surveil potential wrongdoers is an asset common to successful officers in both fields.

Law enforcement is also an essential aspect of both roles. Thanks to your experience, you know that lawfully apprehending suspects is more complex than some people might expect. You must be both decisive and firm in your approach, yet also careful not to cause injury.

Knowing safe arrest procedures is a hallmark of good patrol work. Getting your criminology and policing degree online from Laurier will fill in the rest of what you’ll need to know when an arrest is merited.

Those who are nervous about making an arrest make mistakes. Being able to show a potential employer that you are a steady and capable hand who is comfortable with the physical side of your role will instill confidence.

On that note, physical fitness is just as important for police work as it is for security. In Canada, potential officers are expected to enter police college with a good level of fitness.

In order to pass the Physical Abilities Requirement Evaluation (PARE), you will need to have good muscular strength, endurance and a strong cardiovascular system.

Paired with the analytical skills you’ll develop through your criminology and policing degree online, your security background will make you a strong candidate for the police service.

Examples of Soft Skills

Examples of Soft Skills

Adaptability is another required policing and criminology skill you’ve probably already developed. It’s important to stay calm and focused under pressure.

Any job that involves dealing with people under stress involves an element of randomness. Both security work and policing will throw all kinds of challenges at you, and you must be able to adapt quickly to needs as they arise.

Emotional intelligence can be the key to defusing a potentially dangerous situation. If you can stay calm and pay attention to what all involved parties are asking for, you have a much better chance of reaching a positive result.

Your criminology and policing degree online from Laurier will teach you conflict de-escalation strategies you can use to delay and/or prevent a situation from becoming more extreme. Even if the situation does continue to evolve, your de-escalation skills can slow it down, giving back-up officers a chance to arrive and increase the likelihood of a desired outcome.

Police work doesn’t just involve apprehending criminals. First and foremost, it’s about serving your community.

You’ll need to maintain a respectful and professional manner when dealing with members of the public, especially if they’ve just experienced a criminal event. The interpersonal skills you’ve developed as a member of a security team and through your criminology and policing degree online through Laurier will enable you to do just that — from helping victims feel safe and heard to gaining the trust of witnesses.

The communication skills that security officers use when interacting with the public and your colleagues are also a major part of police work. Those skills include:

  • Active listening when taking victim statements
  • Written communication when filing reports
  • Non-verbal cues to communicate with fellow officers while investigating

You can further develop your communication skills during your criminology and policing degree online through essay writing and group discussions.

Essential Mental Skills

Essential Mental Skills

From observing body language to surveilling videotape footage, a successful career in security requires attention to detail. This is particularly important when it comes to crime scene investigation, where uniformed officers find, collect, process and guard evidence.

Security guards who make transition into policing after completing a criminology and policing degree online from Laurier will find their ability to report accurately, maintain files, and follow a strict schedule will bolster the discipline required to be a police officer.

Critical thinking skills are a major part of completing a criminology and policing degree online. These skills come into play when you’re conducting an investigation.

Officers need the ability to quickly notice and analyze details so they can make wise decisions. Detective work, in particular, depends on detectives’ ability to map out and critically assess every lead available to them.

At heart, security and police work are both fundamentally about maintaining a fair society. If you’re interested in policing, you probably already care about justice.

Upholding the law is an important way to protect those limits and ideals that we as a society have agreed to live by. A criminology and policing degree online from Laurier will help you deepen your understanding of law and justice so that you can successfully uphold those ideals as a police officer.

Making the Transition: How a Criminology and Policing Degree Online Can Help

Making the Transition: How a Criminology and Policing Degree Online Can Help

These practical, soft, and mental skills provide you with a strong foundation if you are looking to transition into a law enforcement career. The next step is a criminology and policing degree online.

Your degree will take the experience you’ve already developed and help you expand on it. It will give you the technical know-how needed for police work, a community of peers and mentors to help you grow interpersonally, and the theory and information needed for critical thinking on the job.

In addition, networking with people currently working in law enforcement provides invaluable insight into the demands of the job and is the best way to prepare yourself for the rigours of the field.

Getting your criminology and policing degree online from Laurier will introduce you to many experienced law enforcement officers who will be available to you personally as professors and mentors. Your degree will also help you become familiar with cutting-edge contemporary thinking about the best practices for police work.

Through your online degree from Laurier, you will find that you’ve become a more attractive candidate for police work and, once your career begins, you’ll have the criminology and policing skills required for greater challenges and leadership roles.

Wilfrid Laurier University’s BA in Criminology and Policing degree can help you to hone those skills and progress faster up the ladder when you begin your new career. To learn about Laurier’s curriculum, read our brochure and speak with an enrolment advisor.

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