Meet Clarice Lew, Police Captain with Fremont PD
Cop shows were very popular on TV. And so like most kids I’d watch police officer shows on TV. And I think there was somewhat of an intrigue with it but I never took it seriously that I would be – go into police work as a career. I probably would have gone on a citizen ridealong, gotten it out of my system and been done with it and moved on in my education and done something else.
I’m not sure that I knew what I was getting myself into but I went to the reserve Academy and one thing led to another and I ended up getting hired as a reserve police officer with the Davis Police Department. Now, reserve officers have police officer powers while they are working but they are volunteer police officers. At least at that time they were. So I didn’t get paid for going out on patrol. And I enjoyed it so much – and even then I had done it for three years and up until probably six months before I graduated from school I still had not planned on being a police officer. And at that time I knew, when I was faced with graduation, I knew I could get a job as a police officer because I had a clean background and I had been hired already as a reserve police officer. So I decided to try it.
When I graduated from school and I was looking for a job as a police officer I was trying to decide what agency to apply for. I chose Fremont because of its progressive nature and because I saw the opportunity for growth. It took a good six months to get hired. The hiring process is pretty complex, pretty intensive. And there are a lot of steps to it. It goes from having a written test to test your writing ability, to a physical agility test to make sure that you are physically able to do the job, an oral interview and a background investigation which includes a polygraph examination. And finally an interview with the chief or the executive staff of the police department. And after that you have to go through a psychological examination and a medical examination.
The best piece of advice I would give to a teen who is thinking about going into law enforcement is to think about every choice that you make in your life and know that there are consequences to your choices. The thing that we run into most often is people who have made bad choices, made bad decisions in their past that preclude them from being peace officers. So if you are always thinking about the consequences and always thinking about doing the right thing, I think that will keep your background clean and leave your options open, give you the most opportunities that are available to you.
There’s a possibility that you are going to disappoint someone with whatever your career choice. I know that for me, my mother was reluctant to have me go into to law enforcement. And I think primarily it was the danger aspect. She didn’t want anything to happen to me. And there are cultural restrictions for a lot of kids. And I think the important thing is to communicate with your parents, explain why you want to do certain things. Because I do think there is a certain calling that this career has. I think that for me, I really had to follow my heart, follow what I wanted to do.
My parents or my mom saw it as somewhat of a waste of my education because I have an advanced degree and a lot of money and time went into getting the education that I did. And even though most police departments, or many police departments, don’t require a bachelors degree or college degree to be an entry-level police officer, if you want to advance in your career, it’s pretty much a requirement to have a bachelors degree or even a Masters degree or other advanced degree.
And I think that eventually, if you are happy in doing what you are doing in your career, your parents will recognize that.