I am not in Law Enforcement (yet), but I am looking into the requirements for joining either the Houston Police Department or the Texas Department of Public Safety (State trooper);

I do have a couple of questions for working LEOs who are 'out' on the job; 1) do you have any concern about whether or not your brothers & sisters in blue have "got your back" slightly less because of your 'out' atheism and 2) how does it impact the way you relate to members of the public, witnesses and suspects?  I've seen police on shows like the First 48 make overt appeals to the religiosity of suspects and was wondering what you think of such tactics?  I know that police are allowed to lie during interviews with suspects, but would you fake personal religiosity to try to get a suspect to open up to you, or ask a partner to help who actually is religious?

I am "out" to friends and family, but on the job I tend to keep mum, unless I find out that a co-worker is non-religious;  I used to work for AIG, Inc. and one of the MDs on staff was an "out" atheist and we enjoyed chatting with each other during our down time.  I let him borrow some of my books on tape by Richard Dawkins, et. al.  But when religious co-workers would go off on religious tangents, we'd usually just smile and nod and say nothing, or turn away and roll our eyes.

Also, I just turned 39, and I realize most new police officers start much younger in life, but do you think 39 is too old?  My friend with HPD says he doesn't think so, but he's a friend so may be biased.  What do some of you think?  I've got some work to do meeting the physical standards but I'm making good progress on those goals.  I've also got 2 Master's Degrees (MA - German; Master of Library Science) and will probably be regarded as an "egghead" by other cadets.

After High School as an undergrad I wanted to be a Navy officer and even won a 3-year NROTC scholarship to Texas A&M but later lost it because my eyesight was so bad (I've since had Lasik and see 20x20 now).  I don't know why I didn't look at other ways to serve, like going to law school and becoming a JAG, or checking out local Law Enforcement then trying to get on with something like NCIS or FBI.  After my Navy ambitions dried up I guess I felt kind of lost for a number of years.  Thought Librarianship was my thing, but after 2 Library jobs that career path seems to have fizzled and I'm just trying to think outside the box and hit upon Law Enforcement...

Anyway, thank you for all that you do, and for taking the time to respond if you choose to do so.
--John R.

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My answers:

1) I have no concerns at all, indeed the majority of my collegues are either out and out non-believers of they don't care (mind you I do work in the UK)
2) This makes no difference to me whatsoever, it is how people act and behave (with particular reference to the law) that I respond to them on. (By the way in the UK we are not allowed to mislead suspects in an interview as that is a breach of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) the UK (at least the English and Welsh) Police "Bible" if you will)

Finally 39 is not too old, there was a 38 year old in my class at training school and previously to this (I worked in police recruitment) I recruited at 48 year old retired army warrant officer!

I know that much of this won't translate that well into the US law enforcement systems as there are differences (and I don't just mean the fact that I am unarmed!), but I hope it is of some help!
I am out as out can be at work without any problems on the job. I do just go with the flow when asked to tell the truth whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me god in court, I'm in uniform, doing the job, no need to rock the boat. As long as my being an Atheist doesn't stall my career I tend not to make big issues out things. Off duty I'm loud and proud though.

Hi John,

Lots of questions to answer from my perspective so let me know if I missed some that you want answers for later.

I don't think you can worry about whether a fellow officer has your back or not in the performance of your job.  If your mind is on that rather than your situation in the field, your sit-awareness goes way down.  That endangers you both.  If it is a concern, then a different specialty that doesn't put you in the field might be in order.  Second, as a civilian, I don't have much interaction with the public so references to anything religious I just let slide.  No need for a theological debate in a highly litigious society like America these days.

Be honest when questioning suspects and witnesses.  Ask about their perspectives and beliefs.  You might actually get a better result if you surprise them with your honesty about religion.

My agency has a new reserve who is in his late 40s.  You're not too old.  Enjoy your work!





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