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  1. #1
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    Federal Police officer or Local Officer, which would you choose?

    I know most of you will state do what you want but I want a little bit of both and need some guidance or experienced officers to help me answer this question. I've searched and didn't find many results.
    I'm in the process for a small agency that starts at $36k a year, nice area, quiet but less pay and benefits. The federal agency will start me off at $43k a year with a top secret clearance, more pay, more benefits but the fbi police is more like security forces, guarding top secret areas and checkpoints. Now alot would right off the bat assume, oh fbi no questions ask but I think I would enjoy doing something different everyday such as traffic stops and responding to calls, the one on one experience with the public.
    Some told me it's easier to go from feds to local than local to feds which I don't think is true.
    My questions are:
    - How many officers went to the feds and came back to the locals?
    - Do any officers wish they went federal or never left local?


    Please feel free to add to the list below

    Fbi Police
    Pros: More money, great benefits, easier to get promoted in the pay scale, hold a top secret clearance, be part of an elite organization, looks great on your resume

    Cons: Same routines everyday, very little "policing", very little public interaction, stand post

    Local agency
    Pros: Everyday is different, you interact with people, make citations, make a difference, put the bad guys away, job satisfaction

    Cons: Shift work (hard if trying to have a family in the future), less pay, less benefits, and most likely never make what the fbi does in 10 years, have to relocate from where I'm at.


    Thank you, I'm really torn between these two. I've talked to a special agent who was a 20 year veteran police officer and he said he loved being a cop, wakes up everyday does it and gets paid.
    I want to do citations and respond to calls, but at the same time I would like to advance quick in the pay scale so me and my family could live comfortably and pay for my child's education.
    Last edited by Terps; 11-15-2011 at 10:47 PM.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terps View Post
    I know most of you will state do what you want but I want a little bit of both and need some guidance or experienced officers to help me answer this question. I've searched and didn't find many results.
    I'm in the process for a small agency that starts at $36k a year, nice area, quiet but less pay and benefits. The federal agency will start me off at $43k a year with a top secret clearance, more pay, more benefits but the fbi police is more like security forces, guarding top secret areas and checkpoints. Now alot would right off the bat assume, oh fbi no questions ask but I think I would enjoy doing something different everyday such as traffic stops and responding to calls, the one on one experience with the public.
    Some told me it's easier to go from feds to local than local to feds which I don't think is true.
    My questions are:
    - How many officers went to the feds and came back to the locals?
    - Do any officers wish they went federal or never left local?


    Please feel free to add to the list below

    Fbi Police
    Pros: More money, great benefits, easier to get promoted in the pay scale, hold a top secret clearance, be part of an elite organization, looks great on your resume

    Cons: Same routines everyday, very little "policing", very little public interaction, stand post

    Local agency
    Pros: Everyday is different, you interact with people, make citations, make a difference, put the bad guys away, job satisfaction

    Cons: Shift work (hard if trying to have a family in the future), less pay, less benefits, and most likely never make what the fbi does in 10 years, have to relocate from where I'm at.


    Thank you, I'm really torn between these two. I've talked to a special agent who was a 20 year veteran police officer and he said he loved being a cop, wakes up everyday does it and gets paid.
    I want to do citations and respond to calls, but at the same time I would like to advance quick in the pay scale so me and my family could live comfortably and pay for my child's education.
    Not all local agencies are like you stated. The base salary at my department (suburb outside of NYC) before OT or anything after four years is in the six figures. That is much more than the FBI Police and even a Special Agent. Not all positions are shift work. We have M-F 8-4 jobs.

    As far as a resume, I can guarantee you any local police officer has more experience in actual policing than an FBI Police Officer. The jobs are completely different. FBI Police is more property/resource protection while local departments serve a specific jurisdiction and answer a variety of 911 jobs. It's comparing apples and oranges.

  3. #3
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    I didn't pursue Federal jobs because I had no desire to be at the mercy of the Bureau/Dept. regarding where I'd be assigned. (Had enough of that in the Army ;o)
    The first few years, at least, you will be assigned based on staffing needs, depending on the agency, anywhere in the country.
    Do you have a T.S. clearance yet? They are not easy to get.
    I work for a large urban dept. and am content. I'm sure I could've made more money working for the Federal Government, but there is more to life than $$ and if you invest wisely and save, you should be able to live comfortably whatever you decide.
    If you are already married, alot of this will depend on how your wife feels. Is she up for moving every few years until you establish some seniority?
    Good luck with your decision.
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    I hate to over simplify it but if you want to do police work then take the job with the local PD.

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    I hate dealing with US attornies and the federal system in general. I don't like dealing with federal law but I'm glad there are officers out there doing the federal thing. I just happen to like dealing with state laws like citing people walking to the left in a crosswalk to arresting someone for capital murder.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeitgeist View Post
    I didn't pursue Federal jobs because I had no desire to be at the mercy of the Bureau/Dept. regarding where I'd be assigned. (Had enough of that in the Army ;o)
    The first few years, at least, you will be assigned based on staffing needs, depending on the agency, anywhere in the country.
    Do you have a T.S. clearance yet? They are not easy to get.
    I work for a large urban dept. and am content. I'm sure I could've made more money working for the Federal Government, but there is more to life than $$ and if you invest wisely and save, you should be able to live comfortably whatever you decide.
    If you are already married, alot of this will depend on how your wife feels. Is she up for moving every few years until you establish some seniority?
    Good luck with your decision.
    FBI Police doesn't transfer or move you around like the SA side. No I don't have a TS clearance, which would be another positive of joining the federal side. That will open more opportunities with a clearance.

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    Know what? When all the smoke clears and the dust settles, YOU decide what YOU want. I capped the "you" for emphasis. As one colleague very correctly noted, you'll do actual law enforcement with your local PD. While certainly not criticizing the FBI Police, or minimizing what is an important mission, you'll not do too much actual police work there. With regard to transitioning from local to federal law enforcement: Transition from local to federal employment happens far more often than the reverse. So, once more, examine what it is you desire to do. Once you make that decision, and only you can make it, apply accordingly. Good luck.

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    As stated in the PM to you..... With the economy is crappy as it is.....take the first job that is offered to you!! If you pass on up in the hopes of getting another one....you could be SOL and jobless!! Once you get thur the process, thru an academy, thru FTO, and get some time on the job..... Step back and see if the job is for you. If you don't like where it's going.....start looking. At least you can look while you are getting paid. I've had several friends that have passed up jobs in hoping to get their "Dream Job" and they ended up being SOL......and not in the field......

  9. #9
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    Here's my .02 cents based upon my experiences...

    I previously worked as a Federal Police Officer for an agency in DC. I did that for about 2 years. I'm now a Local Police Officer, and I've been doing it about 3 years.

    I agree with most of the pros and cons you listed. Those were the same thoughts I had when I decided to transfer from Fed. to Local.

    When I was a Fed. Officer, the pay, benefits and training were great, but the security style policing was boring to me. Now that I'm a Local Officer, the pay and benefits are a bit less, but and I enjoy the patrol style policing much more.

    As others have stated, you have to decide what's best for you, and decide what you want out of a career.

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    Street Cop50, your response is greatly appreciated, it's opinions like these that I need. Could you answer me these questions:

    1.) Would you go back to federal?
    2.) What agency were you with? (You can pm me if you like)
    3.) Are you happy with the local and picture yourself staying there for awhile?

    I want both, the excitement of a local officer an the good pay to provide for a family to live comfortably. But now I look at it this way, if I'm in the local police I don't have the money but eventually will as I get promoted while keeping the excitement of day to day patrol whereas federal I will keep making money but I would never get any excitement.

  11. #11
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    The main difference between federal cops and local cops:

    Local Cops eat & drink coffee and donuts
    Fed cops eat & drink Lattes and croissants

    Some of the pro's and con's arn't always true, I made more working for APD then the FBI made in the same location. I also had a secret clearance (EOD)

    The big advantage of the local cop is its local. You have a project you want to try, its easier to sell to the Chief then if a Fed Cop, trying to sell it to the people in DC.

    I think the Local cops have more freedom on how they do their job. Real police work is done on the street, interacting with the public. Much easier for a local cop.

    Another advantage. We're free to walk away if we don't like how things our done. An example, I was on the Bomb Squad. I was working with the SS on searching a hotel prior to dignataries ariving. I didn't like the way they did the building search (you need to watch the SS to see what I mean). I told them I'm going across the street to get a cup of coffee, call me if you find something.

    Another incident. We found a suspected package on a plane, couldnt get to it with a robot so I was going to use ropes to drag it out. I had cleared the area of people. Feds said I couldn't do that, the plane was worth too much money. I handed them the rope and started to walk away. They changed there mind, but the ideal is our department put more value on the officer life then property.

    I could go on, buy you get the ideal..................Read Peele & O.W. Wilson

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terps View Post
    Street Cop50, your response is greatly appreciated, it's opinions like these that I need. Could you answer me these questions:

    1.) Would you go back to federal?
    2.) What agency were you with? (You can pm me if you like)
    3.) Are you happy with the local and picture yourself staying there for awhile?

    I want both, the excitement of a local officer an the good pay to provide for a family to live comfortably. But now I look at it this way, if I'm in the local police I don't have the money but eventually will as I get promoted while keeping the excitement of day to day patrol whereas federal I will keep making money but I would never get any excitement.
    As you mentioned in a previous thread, your "local" agency would keep you at the same salary for 5 years. Now if they hire you, take it, get the experience and cert and look elsewhere around Maryland. Once you are certified, it opens a lot of windows up for you, but I will say if you choose to stay on the Eastern Shore, you will not make any money.

    Yes the money can look good with the FBI police. However, you have to look at where you will have to reside, etc. 43k to start off and living around DC/NOVA...good luck.

    As stated, its up to you and I would take whichever job gets offered to you at first. you can take both and end up not liking either and end up getting out of LE altogether. It happens.
    "An excuse is worse and more terrible than a lie, for an excuse is a lie guarded."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Terps View Post
    Street Cop50, your response is greatly appreciated, it's opinions like these that I need. Could you answer me these questions:

    1.) Would you go back to federal?
    2.) What agency were you with? (You can pm me if you like)
    3.) Are you happy with the local and picture yourself staying there for awhile?

    I want both, the excitement of a local officer an the good pay to provide for a family to live comfortably. But now I look at it this way, if I'm in the local police I don't have the money but eventually will as I get promoted while keeping the excitement of day to day patrol whereas federal I will keep making money but I would never get any excitement.
    And here's another thing to consider: you don't have to make a decision based on what you want to do *forever* - you will in all likelihood change jobs in one form or another over the next 30 years.

    As a successful friend of mine once said, "you should spend 10% of your time thinking about your next job."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Terps View Post
    FBI Police doesn't transfer or move you around like the SA side. No I don't have a TS clearance, which would be another positive of joining the federal side. That will open more opportunities with a clearance.
    Just offering an opinion. Don't count on having a TS clearance until you actually have it--they are notoriously difficult to get.
    Ultimately, you have to make this decision.
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  15. #15
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    I spent 4 years as a federal special agent before deciding to return to local LE. Not because "local is better" or liking one better than the other, but because I sought to move my family back home closer to grandparents/cousins.

    Also, don't make the mistake of looking at a larger federal salary and believing that means more disposable income, as most federal jobs are in high cost-of-living cities that can be outrageously expensive. Making $40-50k in D.C. or other large city would be very tough to live on with a family (and even still not necessarily more beer money for a single guy making $30-40k in a low cost-of-living area).

    So, not sure if that answers your question, but I have been on both sides of the fence. Both are good jobs (can't speak from personal experience on UNIFORMED federal jobs, as I've never worked one or wanted to), but local LE can be a great career choice.
    Last edited by Kimble; 11-16-2011 at 08:53 PM.

  16. #16
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    Having been both a local and federal officer, I prefer being a federal officer. I make more than the local officers, have better (and lifetime benefits) and I dont have to deal with all the bs that street cops have. Once in the federal system (Im not sure if the FBI Police is excepted service) but you can move to other jobs if you are qualified. I worked for a small city where all the guys I worked with either work elsewhere or are sgts in the department. You have to take the job which is best suited towards what you want otherwise you will be miserable.
    I don't work - I merely inflict myself upon the public.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terps View Post
    Street Cop50, your response is greatly appreciated, it's opinions like these that I need. Could you answer me these questions:

    1.) Would you go back to federal?
    2.) What agency were you with? (You can pm me if you like)
    3.) Are you happy with the local and picture yourself staying there for awhile?

    I want both, the excitement of a local officer an the good pay to provide for a family to live comfortably. But now I look at it this way, if I'm in the local police I don't have the money but eventually will as I get promoted while keeping the excitement of day to day patrol whereas federal I will keep making money but I would never get any excitement.
    Terps...

    Would you go back to federal?
    - I would not go back to federal as a uniformed police officer mainly because I did not enjoy the security style policing. I have however, kicked around the idea of going back to federal as a special agent... but right now, that's just a small thought.

    What agency were you with? (You can pm me if you like)
    - I was with one of the big name agencies in the heart of DC. I'll PM you.

    Are you happy with the local and picture yourself staying there for awhile?
    - I'm very happy being a local officer. I now have enough time on with my current dept. that I can start putting in for specialty units. I won't be leaving anytime soon.
    Last edited by Street_Cop50; 11-16-2011 at 09:53 PM.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by irishlad2nv View Post
    As you mentioned in a previous thread, your "local" agency would keep you at the same salary for 5 years. Now if they hire you, take it, get the experience and cert and look elsewhere around Maryland. Once you are certified, it opens a lot of windows up for you, but I will say if you choose to stay on the Eastern Shore, you will not make any money.

    Yes the money can look good with the FBI police. However, you have to look at where you will have to reside, etc. 43k to start off and living around DC/NOVA...good luck.

    As stated, its up to you and I would take whichever job gets offered to you at first. you can take both and end up not liking either and end up getting out of LE altogether. It happens.
    Thanks for the constructive response. The $43k for the area in PG county is not too bad, I can commute via metro. The thing is I talked to a US Marshal which is not an expected position and said in about 5-6 years you can be higher than gs-11. As for the eastern shore, I know what you mean about the salary, I contacted the department and they said it's false and in about 2-3 years it'll be up to $43k, which is what I would start at with the fbi.
    Quote Originally Posted by kraigwy View Post
    The main difference between federal cops and local cops:

    Local Cops eat & drink coffee and donuts
    Fed cops eat & drink Lattes and croissants

    Some of the pro's and con's arn't always true, I made more working for APD then the FBI made in the same location. I also had a secret clearance (EOD)

    The big advantage of the local cop is its local. You have a project you want to try, its easier to sell to the Chief then if a Fed Cop, trying to sell it to the people in DC.

    I think the Local cops have more freedom on how they do their job. Real police work is done on the street, interacting with the public. Much easier for a local cop.

    Another advantage. We're free to walk away if we don't like how things our done. An example, I was on the Bomb Squad. I was working with the SS on searching a hotel prior to dignataries ariving. I didn't like the way they did the building search (you need to watch the SS to see what I mean). I told them I'm going across the street to get a cup of coffee, call me if you find something.

    Another incident. We found a suspected package on a plane, couldnt get to it with a robot so I was going to use ropes to drag it out. I had cleared the area of people. Feds said I couldn't do that, the plane was worth too much money. I handed them the rope and started to walk away. They changed there mind, but the ideal is our department put more value on the officer life then property.

    I could go on, buy you get the ideal..................Read Peele & O.W. Wilson
    Thanks for your input, I think the local way is to go but it's not enough money I would think to raise a family.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zeitgeist View Post
    Just offering an opinion. Don't count on having a TS clearance until you actually have it--they are notoriously difficult to get.
    Ultimately, you have to make this decision.
    Um, most uniformed divisions have a top secret clearance, I believe when they sign their EOD and job offers your background has been done which clears you.

    Quote Originally Posted by Street_Cop50 View Post
    Terps...

    Would you go back to federal?
    - I would not go back to federal as a uniformed police officer mainly because I did not enjoy the security style policing. I have however, kicked around the idea of going back to federal as a special agent... but right now, that's just a small thought.

    What agency were you with? (You can pm me if you like)
    - I was with one of the big name agencies in the heart of DC. I'll PM you.

    Are you happy with the local and picture yourself staying there for awhile?
    - I'm very happy being a local officer. I now have enough time on with my current dept. that I can start putting in for specialty units. I won't be leaving anytime soon.
    Thank you for your input sir. Please pm me which agency you currently work for and which uniformed division you use to work for. Is it true that advancement opportunities are limited in the uniformed division and if I start at a gs-6 where would you project my salary in 3-5 years?
    Last edited by Terps; 11-16-2011 at 10:35 PM.

  19. #19
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    Couple quick things, as your understanding on a few points seems a bit off.

    Quote Originally Posted by Terps View Post
    The thing is I talked to a US Marshal which is not an expected position and said in about 5-6 years you can be higher than gs-11.
    Unless you're in management, don't count on being a GS-11 or higher as a uniformed 0083 officer. CBP officers and Border Patrol Agents top out at GS-12, but you won't see the same with FBI Police.

    Also, US Marshals Service is not EXCEPTED Service (no such thing as an "expected" position). FBI Police is (as the FBI is Excepted Service as a whole), which means you're opportunities to lateral over to a Competitive Service job will be limited (if not altogether nonexistant) if you're not a veteran. This is a large reason why I my federal job to go back local, I was a 1811 for an Excepted Service agency, and when I sought to transfer to other 1811 agencies (under Competitive Service) closer to home I was deemed inelligible for a lateral transfer due to being under Excepted Service and not having Veterans Status to trump it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Terps View Post
    Um, most uniformed divisions have a top secret clearance
    Yeah, that's not true. *Most* federal uniformed LE jobs have a Secret clearance (at the most). There are uniformed jobs that have a TS (USSS-UD, CIA SPO, NSA Police, and perhaps FBI Police as well), but to say that "most uniformed divisions have a top secret clearance" is far from accurate.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kimble View Post
    Yeah, that's not true. *Most* federal uniformed LE jobs have a Secret clearance (at the most). There are uniformed jobs that have a TS (USSS-UD, CIA SPO, NSA Police, and perhaps FBI Police as well), but to say that "most uniformed divisions have a top secret clearance" is far from accurate.
    +1

    nope, um, not accurate
    Been, there......
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terps View Post

    Um, most uniformed divisions have a top secret clearance, I believe when they sign their EOD and job offers your background has been done which clears you.
    Most 0083 series police officers do not even recieve a clearance other than what is known as an MBI or Minimal Background check.
    I don't work - I merely inflict myself upon the public.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terps View Post
    Thanks for the constructive response. The $43k for the area in PG county is not too bad, I can commute via metro. The thing is I talked to a US Marshal which is not an expected position and said in about 5-6 years you can be higher than gs-11. As for the eastern shore, I know what you mean about the salary, I contacted the department and they said it's false and in about 2-3 years it'll be up to $43k, which is what I would start at with the fbi.




    Um, most uniformed divisions have a top secret clearance, I believe when they sign their EOD and job offers your background has been done which clears you.
    No they do not.


    To live off 43K around PG, again, good luck. And your info about making more then a GS 11...again, you are getting false info.
    "An excuse is worse and more terrible than a lie, for an excuse is a lie guarded."

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    Quote Originally Posted by irishlad2nv View Post
    No they do not.


    To live off 43K around PG, again, good luck. And your info about making more then a GS 11...again, you are getting false info.
    I already am living in PG in that salary range just fine. As for making GS11 I said that was from a Marshal after 4-5years after being re-entered as an 1811. I don't know why he would lie about something like that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeitgeist View Post
    +1

    nope, um, not accurate
    Been, there......
    I talked to alot of different uniformed officers of different areas, USSS-UD, USPP, FBI Police, and I don't remember if it was capitol or supreme court but I talked to a uniformed guy there that said he had one. So I don't know where you've "been" but that's 4 right off the bat that I know of.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terps View Post
    I talked to alot of different uniformed officers of different areas, USSS-UD, USPP, FBI Police, and I don't remember if it was capitol or supreme court but I talked to a uniformed guy there that said he had one. So I don't know where you've "been" but that's 4 right off the bat that I know of.
    I can tell you for a fact USPP does not get a TS. I doubt USCP or USSCP get it either. No reason for them to have one. The FBI gets it because of the sensitive of the area they patrol. Only other agencies with a TS in the DC are besides FBI are DIA, NGA and maybe NSA. The rest get either secret clearances or other types of clearances.
    I don't work - I merely inflict myself upon the public.

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