Aug 1012

Tips for Military Veterans Considering Law Enforcement Careers

Many law enforcement agencies welcome returning combat veterans and other prior-military personnel interested in police service careers.  Most persons who have served in the military have ingrained in their personality a desire to serve others.  While law enforcement is a noble profession and offers veterans long-term stability, it also helps satisfy the desire to serve others and thus offers a sense of accomplishment and pride.  In law enforcement you can apply your dedication and patriotism to protecting the public, while helping make a real difference in your community. Military Officer and a child

Individuals with military experience make desirable law enforcement employees and bring a high level of training and dedication to policing careers.  In addition, combat veterans are typically team-oriented professionals who exemplify the selfless commitment necessary to serve their communities as police officers.

Following are some tips for combat veterans seeking employment in law enforcement:

  • Apply for any position, sworn or non-sworn, as soon as possible.
  • Be honest, open, and welcoming to the background investigation process.
  • Take advantage of ride-along opportunities.
  • Consider the pros and cons of large, medium, and smaller departments serving various jurisdictions. Decide what type of agency matches your personality and career goals.
  • Do not apply to or test for only one department.
  • Know the applications, screening and hiring process takes time.
  • Be very thorough and totally honest throughout the application and interview process.
  • Seek out other veterans who are members of the departments that interest you. Ask them for opinions and suggestions.
  • Emphasize the skills you developed during your deployment, and offer specific examples.
  • Look for departments that credit or preference for veterans.  Examples include streamlining or fast-tracking applications from military veterans, adding veterns preference points, or offering serve time credit toward retirement. 


This article is an excerpt from Combat Veterans & Law Enforcement: A Transition Guide for Veterans Beginning or Continuing Careers in Law Enforcement, a project of the IACP, the Bureau of Justice Assistance, and Klein Associates Division/ARA.  Additional resources related to the IACP’s Employing Returning Combat Veterans Project include:

  • Law Enforcement Leader’s Guide on Combat Veterans 
  • Family Guidebook
  • Marketing Tools For Recruiting Veterans into Law Enforcement
  • Employing Returning Combat Veterans Findings and Recommendations from Field Research

For more information, visit

One Response

  1. Having worked in a law enforcement recruiting and hiring role for 5 of my 15 year career in law enforcement, I can tell you that military veterans are an excellent fit for both sworn and non-sworn law enforcement positions. Interestingly enough, even though Military Police serve in almost the same capacity and role as their civilian counterparts, some departments and states will NOT recognize this experience as true LEO experience, which I think is completely wrong and unfair. The department I worked for was this way, and wouldn’t recognize MP or even investigative experience (such as Army CID) as LEO experience. Personally, I always felt that candidates with this kind of experience were exceptionally well qualified and did my best to get them into the hiring process.

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