As candidates strive to gain voter support, they campaign to promote their professional experience, platform or philosophy and promises or goals they will fulfil if elected—in other words what makes them best for the job.
Luckily for most criminal justice positions, you only need to impress employers, and not a crowd of voters. But let’s pretend you are running for an election:
What would be your professional philosophy or statement of beliefs?
Instead of political promises pledged to voters, what short and long term goals would you like to make for yourself as you progress along your career path, succeed on the job everyday and serve society?
What would be your Slogan?
Sheriff Shannon Oliver recently announced he is running again, seeking to be re-elected as sheriff of Franklin County, Alabama. When he ran for sheriff in 2010, his ‘slogan’ was he was going to be “Your sheriff, not the sheriff,” reported Franklin County Times (February 16, 2014).
“Paralegals Support the Bar” and “Behind Every Good Paralegal is a Successful Attorney” are some slogans the California Alliance of Paralegal Associations used in the late 80s.
“Hope to change. Courage to make it happen. Determination to follow through,” is the motto of the Parole & Probation Division of Marion County Sheriff’s Office.
What is your personal catch phrase or mantra for your criminal justice career?
What is your Professional Philosophy?
Brenda Willis is running for Justice of the Peace of Precinct 4 in Lubbock County, Texas. (A justice of the peace, in this case, is like a judge or judicial officer who handles Class C misdemeanor cases, and while they have to be well versed in the law, they do not have to be a lawyer.)
Willis has 28 years experience in law enforcement. Prior to applying to run for justice of the peace (a goal she’s had for some time) she was Precinct 4’s Constable. In a Lubbock Avalanche –Journal article (February 17, 2014), Willis is quoted as saying, “I bring honesty and integrity and a very strong work ethic…The law is pretty black and white but you still need to treat people with respect and dignity…I think understanding about human nature and really all these years in law enforcement taught me professionally you have to override what your personal feelings might be.” Fairness is a major component of Willis’ values.
As you think about your present-day or upcoming criminal justice career, what values and philosophies do you hold?
How will you fulfil Promises?
When Oliver ran for sheriff four years ago, he vowed to develop a website that would inform, and offer transparency, to residents, and that he would also focus on drug enforcement. According to the Franklin County Times, he has kept both promises as sheriff.
What kind of goals do you have for your criminal justice career? Are you working on developing experience and a track record that you can promote honestly?
Of course circumstances may require you to modify your objectives along the way—you may have to adapt and take different stepping stones than you previously planned. But most importantly, in the words of Marion County’s Parole and Probation Division, do you have the “determination to follow through”?
Whether you have been working in a criminal justice career for years or have yet to begin, thinking of the answers to these questions will help you make a positive impact during interviews and during the job search, but also determine the kind of professional you want to be, now and in the future. And the main person you need to impress is you!