There are some special considerations to keep in mind when writing a work biography for a police officer, trooper or other law enforcement professional.
For one thing, police officers must be able to present themselves in different ways for different constituencies. While their primary role is obviously to prevent, stop, or solve crimes, they must also be able to serve the community at large, protect vulnerable populations, and maintain a relationship of mutual respect and understanding with their community.
One tool that helps in all of these tasks is a well-written professional biography, letting the reader know who this person is besides a badge and a uniform.
Here are six key things to include in a police officer autobiography, along with sample wording and fill-in-the-blank examples for crafting an effective law enforcement biography.
1. Identify your audience
The first thing you should ask is “who is the audience for this bio?” In most cases, the biography is being written for a PR handout or a website, so the main audience will be the community at large.
For that reason, the tone needs to be warm and respectful without seeming too casual. “Hi, my name is_______________” is appropriate for many profiles, even professional bios, but it is not the right tone to set when trying to establish a professional rapport between an officer and the community (it’s too casual).
A better way to introduce yourself would be to use your title and name: “(Title: Patrolman, Office, Deputy, Sergeant, etc.)_______________ is a two-year veteran of the _______________ Police Force. Formerly working in__________________ division, he/she now serves in the __________________ department as ______________________.
2. Avoid jargon and acronyms
The text should be straightforward, and informational without a great deal of jargon or acronyms that are understood only by the police. On the other hand, if the bio is being written for other law enforcement professionals, it may use more of the terms and vocabulary commonly used by those on the job. Again, think about your audience and their needs.
3. Leave out the boring stuff
One of the hardest things about writing any professional bio is deciding what merits inclusion and what can be left out. Considering that the most common mistake in writing a professional bio is including too much boring information, my rule of thumb is “when in doubt, leave it out.” Think back to “who is the audience?”and ask yourself what information is relevant to them.
4. List your credentials
Just like that of a doctor or lawyer, the bio of a police officer should include specific information about his or her background, including education, experience, and other relevant work experience that demonstrates qualifications and suitability for the job.
For example: _____________ is a __________ graduate of the ____________________ Police Academy, where he/she graduated in the top __________% of the class.
Alternately, if the individual in question studied law enforcement in college, the bio might read: ____________ (name) majored in _________________ at ____________ College/University.
5. Include awards, memberships, and other positive information
One of the key goals of a good police officer bio is to establish trust as well as competence. This can be achieved by including mention of any awards or citations the officer has received, as well as any benevolent or professional organizations he or she may be a member of.
Other worthy mentions are membership in any organization that may not be directly related to police work but shows concern for the community, such as the Boys and Girls Clubs, a food bank, or a group that distributes Thanksgiving dinners to the needy. These can be included in this manner:
_________________ has been decorated _____(number of times) for outstanding performance in the line of duty. In _________ he/she received the__________________ for his/her work in/with ____________________.
If you do public speaking on behalf of your department, include that as well. Give a brief mention of work history and experience that is relevant to your speaking topic and audience.
6. What NOT to include
Under normal circumstances, many professional bios feature personal information such as whether the individual is married, the spouse’s name and occupation, and whether the person has children.
While commonplace in many professions, this is not necessarily a good idea for a police officer biography. Law enforcement can be a dangerous occupation, not just for the officer but also for his or her family. In a small town police department where everyone already knows about everyone else’s family, that might be acceptable, but even then, the information might well be kept private on general principle. Never include any information about your family unless you’re comfortable with it and you know the department’s policy regarding it.
Part Two: Bio writing for those in command positions
When writing a bio for a police captain, department head, chief of police, or other high-ranking law enforcement officer, all of the rules above apply. In addition, since this individual will be commanding others and may quite possibly by the “public face” of the department, it’s important to balance their past experience in the field, which speaks of their understanding of the challenges faced by their officers as well as their own experience in what makes for effective police work, with information that reassures those on the force, those in local government, community and business leaders, and the public at large that this individual can:
- lead others
- deal with crises from a position of strength
- use his or her authority and position as a force for good
- ensure justice will be done, no matter what the situation
Therefore, begin the senior police officer bio with the basics: current position in the department or on the force, background, education, and experience, and any awards or citations. Then continue with specifics about the individual’s leadership skills.
Before becoming the _________(current position) of _______________ Police Department, __________ worked as a ___________________, overseeing ___________ cases and _______________ of officers.
In addition to his/her current position, _____________ frequently speaks on the topic of ______at law enforcement seminars (and/or) has been published in ____________ journal.
He/She has spearheaded a campaign to obtain ______________ in order to better equip the department and enable it to_________________.
All of this will vary depending on the individual’s specific education, experience, and expertise, but the important fact to remember is that a professional autobiography bio for someone in command should be more detailed and offer more bona fides than that of his/her subordinate. Any other presentation will undermine the leader in the eyes of his/her own department and probably in the eyes of the community as well.
More help needed? A detailed police office bio template that is professionally written in the correct style and format for law enforcement professionals is available here.
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