What is a Lateral Police Officer

A lateral police officer is a cop who already has experience working as a police officer. Instead of starting their career from scratch, they switch to a different police department. It’s like changing schools but for police officers.

You know how when you change schools, you already have some friends and know how things work? Well, it’s kind of like that for lateral police officers. They already know how to do the job because they’ve done it before.

Before they can become lateral officers, they need to meet certain requirements. These might include having a certain number of years of experience, passing a background check, and going through an interview. Think of it like passing a test before you can change schools.


The reason why some police officers become lateral officers varies. Some might want to move to a different city or state and keep being a cop. Others might want to move up the career ladder faster. It’s like wanting to be in a higher grade when you change schools.

When lateral officers start at a new police department, they bring their experience and knowledge with them. This can be really helpful because they already know what they’re doing. They might even have some new ideas from their old department.


But, they also have to learn how things are done in the new department. Every place has its own rules and way of doing things, just like different schools have different rules.

So, in simple words, a lateral police officer is a cop who switches to a new police department after having some experience as a cop. They’re like students changing schools, but instead of classrooms, they work to keep our communities safe.

How to Become a Lateral Police Officer

Becoming a lateral police officer means changing your law enforcement job, but it’s a bit different from starting as a rookie cop. Here’s how you can become a lateral police officer:

  1. Meet Eligibility Requirements: First, make sure you qualify. This usually means having some years of prior law enforcement experience, being the right age, a citizen, having a clean record, and a valid driver’s license.
  1. Research Agencies: Look into different police departments or agencies where you want to work. Each one might have its own rules and requirements.
  1. Submit an Application: Apply to the agency you like. You’ll need to fill out an application and provide documents like your resume, proof of past law enforcement certification, and other relevant stuff.
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  1. Pass a Background Check: Prepare for a deep background check. They’ll dig into your criminal and credit history and might talk to your references.
  1. Interview: You’ll have to chat with the folks at the new agency. Be ready to talk about your past police work, why you want to switch, and why you’re a good fit.
  1. Complete Additional Requirements: Depending on the agency, there could be more tests. They might check your mind with a psychological evaluation, put you through a lie detector test, and screen for drugs.
  1. Attend an Academy (Maybe): Some agencies might ask you to attend a special training program, even if you’re not a newbie. This helps you get used to their specific rules and ways of doing things.
  1. Conditional Job Offer: If you pass all these steps, you might get a job offer. But it might come with conditions.
  1. Complete Training and Probation: If needed, finish up any training or probation period. This helps you fit into the agency’s style and rules.
  1. Start as a Lateral Officer: Once you’ve done all that, you officially begin your career as a lateral police officer with your new agency.

Remember, every agency can have its own way of doing things, so it’s essential to follow their specific rules and guidelines. Also, networking and staying up to date with job openings can help you find the right lateral opportunity in law enforcement.

What is a Lateral Police Officer VS Police Officer

Certainly, let’s break down the differences between a lateral police officer and a police officer in simple terms:

Police Officer (The Rookie)

Imagine a rookie police officer as someone just starting their law enforcement journey. It’s like the first day of school. They’ve completed their basic training at a police academy, but they don’t have any real on-the-job experience yet.

  1. Basic Training: Police officers begin with basic training, like students starting their education in school. They learn the fundamentals of law enforcement.
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  1. Probation Period: During the early stages of their career, they go through a probationary period. Think of this as their “homework” or practice period. They are closely supervised and gain practical experience.
  1. Career Growth: As they gain experience and prove themselves, they can earn promotions, take on specialized roles, and advance within their police department, like students moving up to higher grades.

Lateral Police Officer (The Experienced Transfer)

Now, imagine a lateral police officer as someone who has already been to a few schools and knows the ropes. They’re like students who transfer to a new school but have a lot of experience under their belt.

  1. Experience Matters: Lateral police officers have been working as police officers in a different place for some time. It’s like they’ve already attended a school and learned the basics of law enforcement.
  1. Changing Schools: Instead of staying at the same place, they decide to switch to a new police department, just like students who move to a different school.
  1. Skip Ahead: Because they already have experience, they often start at a higher level or with more responsibilities. This is like being put in a higher grade because you’ve already learned a lot.
  1. Learning the New Rules: But, they also have to learn the specific rules and ways of their new department, which is like adapting to a new school’s environment and rules.

In summary, the main difference between a police officer and a lateral police officer is like the difference between a new student and a transfer student. The new student is just starting out, while the transfer student has been to school before and brings their previous knowledge with them. Both types of officers are essential for keeping our communities safe.

Lateral Police Officer Salary

A lateral police officer’s salary varies. It depends on a few things:

  1. Location: Where they work matters a lot. Big cities often pay more than small towns because living costs are higher.
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  1. Experience: Lateral officers, who already have experience, usually start with a higher salary than new officers. The more years they’ve worked, the more they might earn.
  1. Rank: The officer’s position within the department also affects their pay. Higher-ranking officers, like sergeants or lieutenants, often earn more than regular patrol officers.
  1. Union Agreements: Police unions negotiate salaries and benefits for officers. These agreements can influence how much a lateral officer makes.
  1. Benefits: Lateral officers usually get benefits like health insurance, retirement plans, and extra pay for overtime or specific duties.

In the United States, lateral police officer salaries typically range from about $40,000 to over $100,000 or more per year. To find out the exact salary for a specific location or department, it’s best to check the official police department website or get in touch with their HR department. Remember, salaries can change over time due to budget decisions and negotiations.

What is a Police Officer Recruit

Think of a police officer recruit as someone who’s in the early stages of becoming a full-fledged police officer. It’s like being a student in training, getting ready for a big test.

  1. Training: Recruits go through intensive training at a police academy. They learn about laws, rules, and how to handle different situations, kind of like how students study various subjects in school.
  1. Probationary Period: After the academy, recruits enter a probationary period. During this time, they work closely with experienced officers who guide them and make sure they’re ready for the real deal.
  1. Learning the Job: Recruits learn everything they need to know to be a police officer. This includes understanding the law, using police equipment, and even staying fit. It’s like learning skills in school, but these skills are about keeping communities safe.
  1. Graduation: Once they’ve successfully completed their training and probation, recruits graduate from the police academy. It’s like getting a diploma after finishing school.
  1. Field Training: Some recruits also go through field training, where they work alongside experienced officers in real-life situations. This is like an internship where they apply what they’ve learned in training to the real world.
  1. Continuing Education: Being a police officer is an ongoing learning process. They have to keep up with new laws and techniques, just like students continue to learn even after they graduate.
  1. Community Engagement: Part of their job is building good relationships with the people they serve. They listen to the community’s needs, address concerns, and work to earn trust, kind of like students working together in group projects.

So, a police officer recruit is like a student in the early stages of preparing for an important job—keeping our communities safe and secure.

Lateral Police Officer Jobs

Imagine you’re a seasoned chef, and you want to bring your cooking skills to a new restaurant. Lateral police officer jobs are a bit like that.

  1. Experience Matters: These jobs are for experienced police officers who’ve already been on the beat. It’s similar to expressing, “I have cooking skills, and now I’d like to use them in a new kitchen.”
  1. The Switch Process: To make the switch, experienced officers have to apply, just like anyone else. They submit applications, undergo background checks, interviews, and other assessments.
  1. Training and Adjustment: Even though they’re experienced, they may need some training to adapt to the new department’s ways. It’s like learning the menu and kitchen setup in a new restaurant.
  1. Rank and Expertise: Lateral officers can join at different ranks, depending on their experience and the agency’s needs. Some may have special skills, like a chef who specializes in making desserts.
  1. Benefits of Switching: Officers might want to switch to a different department for various reasons. Maybe they want a change of scenery, more career opportunities, or they align better with a new department’s values.
  1. Different Locations: Lateral opportunities are available in various law enforcement agencies, from local police departments to state agencies. The availability depends on where you want to work.
  1. Finding the Right Fit: Just like looking for a new restaurant job, officers can find lateral job openings by networking, checking agency websites, or using specialized police job placement services.
  1. Career Growth: After switching, officers can keep climbing the law enforcement career ladder. They can get promotions, take on leadership roles, or specialize in areas like investigations or SWAT.

In short, lateral police officer jobs are like changing restaurants as an experienced chef. If you’re an experienced officer looking for a fresh start or new opportunities, these jobs let you take your skills to a different law enforcement kitchen and continue your career.

Lateral Entry Police Officer

A lateral entry police officer is an experienced law enforcement professional who enters a new law enforcement agency or department at a higher rank or with advanced responsibilities, typically skipping the entry-level training that rookie officers undergo. Here’s a simple explanation:

  1. Experienced Officer: A lateral entry police officer is someone who has already worked as a police officer in another agency.
  1. Higher Starting Point: Instead of starting from scratch as a rookie, they begin their new job at a more advanced level or rank.
  1. Transfer Process: To become a lateral entry officer, they go through a selection and hiring process, which may include interviews, background checks, and evaluations.
  1. Skip Basic Training: Lateral entry officers usually skip the basic police academy training because they’ve already completed it in their previous job.
  1. Benefits: Agencies hire lateral entry officers for their experience and expertise, which can bring new skills and perspectives to the department.
  1. Career Advancement: Lateral entry officers have opportunities for career growth and may take on leadership roles or specialized positions within the new agency.

In summary, a lateral entry police officer is an experienced cop who starts at a higher rank or position when they join a new law enforcement agency, skipping the basic training that rookies undergo. This allows them to bring their skills and experience directly to their new role.


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