Working as a Missouri police officer can be dangerous, especially in larger cities like Kansas City and St. Louis. However, before becoming a police officer, you'll receive extensive training to help prepare you for the challenges of working in the law enforcement field. As a police officer, you'll apprehend individuals in Missouri who are accused of breaking state laws, and you'll respond to calls made by citizens who are reporting possible offenders. In 2008, 29,819 violent crimes were committed in the state of Missouri. This figure was reported by the FBI, Uniform Crime Reports. There are 1,203 Missouri police officers responding to these violent crimes from 622 departments, according to Missouri Law Enforcement OnLine.
Start preparing for your career as a Missouri police officer while you're in high school. Before you can enter the police academy, you'll need to receive a high school diploma. Courses that can help prepare you for your future career include government, communications and physical fitness. Playing a sport and staying physically fit will help ensure you are accepted into the police academy.
Take college courses or earn an associate degree in law or criminal justice after you receive your high school diploma. Before you can enter the police academy, you must be 21 years of age. Between the ages of 18 and 21, you can further prepare yourself for your future career by learning more about the American justice system and government. Many police academies also require some college coursework. If you plan to eventually work in a supervisor role, as a detective, or for the federal government, consider receiving a bachelor's degree in law or criminal justice before entering the police academy.
Consider learning a foreign language. Sixteen percent of Missouri citizens were born in Mexico, according to StateMaster.com, so learning to speak Spanish may be helpful for your future career as a Missouri police officer. Generally, foreign language skills will be viewed as an asset to a police department.
Enroll in a Missouri police academy to receive formal training as a police officer. You can attend a police academy conducted by a state or local police department. Police academies are either operated by a department or by a region in the state. Visit the PoliceLink website for a list of Missouri police academies (see Resources).
Complete your police academy training. Training typically takes 12 to 14 weeks, and it includes classroom work and fieldwork. All fieldwork is completed under the supervision of established police officers. If you choose to enter the police academy before you're 21, you'll be put on clerical duty once you complete your training until you're old enough to be appointed to the regular police force.
Apply for open positions within the department or region where you completed your police academy training. Some police academies will help graduates with their job search or actually place them in a police department in the state of Missouri. If you need to find a job yourself, apply to local police departments, and use connections you've made while at the academy to learn about possible job openings in your area.
Be prepared to undergo a psychological evaluation before being hired by a police department. Police officers work directly with the public, and it's essential that they are able to make rational decisions in high-stress situations. If you have a history of mental disturbance or violent behavior, you may not be able to find work as a police officer in the state of Missouri.