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Reasons for Choosing a Police Career: Changes Over Two Decades

NCJ Number
International Journal of Police Science & Management Volume: 10 Issue: 1 Dated: Spring 2008 Pages: 2-8
Pamela F. Foley; Cristina Guarneri; Mary E. Kelly
Date Published
7 pages
The goals of this study were (1) to determine whether the relative importance of reported reasons for choosing a police career had changed; (2) to evaluate how demographic variables might play a role in career choice; and (3) to replicate the factor structure of the original questionnaire to assess its ongoing utility.
The results of the study suggest that the basic reasons for becoming a police officer have continued to remain fairly stable over time, though the relative importance of some of the reasons have shifted slightly in the past two decades. Despite the negative publicity received by police officers in recent years, there was not a significant decrease in the tendency to report the profession’s prestige as a strong reason for choosing this career. In addition, there were no significant racial/ethnic or gender differences on this variable. The results are discussed in terms of their implications for career counselors working with individuals considering a career in police work. In recent years, police officers in the United States have been under increased public scrutiny, which may have affected both the public perception of the police as well as the desire of individuals to choose a career in law enforcement. This study compared responses of 131 police recruits and graduates with the results of a study with an earlier cohort of this population conducted in 1983. The purpose of this study was three-fold: to determine whether the relative importance of reasons for choosing a police career had changed and whether any new reasons had emerged over the past two decades; to evaluate whether demographic variables such as gender or race/ethnicity play a role in career choice for police recruits; and to replicate the 1983 original factor structure in order to determine whether the instrument continues to have utility for counseling those considering a police career. Tables, references


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