Future PSP agents say it’s “still worth it” to fulfill their dream of being a police officer

Report with young people on the agents course at the Practical Police School

Following a childhood dream, the example of one's parents or the desire to help others is “still worth it” for many young people who are at the Practical Police School, despite the risk of the profession and the low salaries.

Divided into 20 classes, the approximately 500 students on the agents course at the Practical Police School (EPP), in Torres Novas, spend their days between theoretical and practical classes, such as physical education, police intervention techniques, self-defense and shooting. .

It is in these practical classes that future PSP police officers simulate situations very close to real life, which prepare them for the streets and difficulties they will face when they arrive at a police station in the Lisbon region, where they will be placed when they finish the course, at the end of June.

Lusa spent a day at EPP and followed some of these classes: future police officers learning to defend themselves from attackers, how to handcuff a suspect and fire their first shots with what will be their weapon during their career, all accompanied by a lot of discipline and rigor .

“Discipline, rigor, is always taken into account from day one. Students are also evaluated in this aspect. They have a merit score that interferes with the final classification, because a police officer in the future, in addition to enforcing the rules, must essentially comply with the rules”, EPP training director Elisa Borges told Lusa.

The officer says that future agents are aware of the risk of the profession and what awaits them in Lisbon: “All the trainers are professionals with many years in the field and convey the risk and practical situations that have occurred in their lives. Go here qualified, as it is a hard life, with sacrifice, with risk”.

This risk and spirit of mission and sacrifice is already very present in the future agents who entered the school in November last year, as is the case of Rui Martins, 22 years old, who has dreamed of being a police officer since he was a child: “Being at school taking the agent course is a dream come true.”

The young man from Tavira tells Lusa that from an early age he came into contact with PSP activity and with police officers in his area of ​​residence and the fact that he had a cousin who was a police officer in Brazil were determining and decisive factors in choosing this profession and, even the low salaries, did not prevented him from realizing his dream of becoming a police officer.

“Everything is constantly evolving. If we look at the working conditions that police officers had 10, 20, 30 years ago, we can infer that there has been a great evolution and it is up to us too, within our possibilities, to have the legality and legitimacy attributed to us to fight for our conditions. ”, he says, admitting that when he arrived at the EPP he had “a reality check due to the discipline of the regime itself”, but guarantees that what moves him is the vocation of being an agent.

Being a police officer since he was a child was not the ambition of Luís Almeida, 28 years old, but he chose to be an agent out of his desire to help others and the opportunity that has now arisen after raising the age to join the PSP.

“I always looked for something that brought responsibility, that was accepted by people and helping others and I felt that the police profession responded to this ambition. I had already worked in several professions previously. At this point I wanted to look for a more stable profession and the police were something that met the requirements”, says this young man from Amadora, who was a professional handball athlete.

Luís Almeida knows the risks of the profession, but says that when you do “things with taste, prudence and necessary care” anything is possible.

Maria João, 28 years old, exchanged the third year of her nursing course for the police profession, an influence from her father, who is a GNR soldier.

“I always had two ambitions: either to be a nurse or a police officer, but the passion for the police profession awakened me and I decided to apply and I was lucky enough to join this course”, says the young woman from Loures, who is aware of the low salaries and the risk of the profession, but “none of this prevented” joining the PSP.

“It’s really worth it nowadays to be a police officer,” he says.

Also the daughter of a PSP, Marta Alves, 22 years old, chose the profession under her father's influence: “I have many family members in the police and that is mainly where the desire to be a police officer comes from, it was always my idea to be a police officer, by living with the my father, my uncle. I have always had this admiration for the profession.”

Even with complaints about low salaries, the young woman from Loures did not give up because it was “really a matter of taste and admiration”. “As in all professions, there are always less good sides, but he [father] always encourages me more on the positive side.”

Márcia Policarpo, 25 years old, from Lisbon, tells Lusa that it was through the firefighters and the security policy degree that she discovered her interest in being a police officer and confesses that she finds the PSP an institution where she can progress in her career.

“It's very good for young people because at PSP there is the Special Police Unit and the institute for those who want to continue studying, want to have a degree or a master's degree. Within the PSP there are several opportunities”, he highlights.

Students who attend the EPP have to apply and pass different knowledge tests, physical, psychotechnical tests and a professional interview. A new competition for admission to the agents course is currently taking place until Tuesday.

In recent years, the attractiveness of the profession has decreased and, according to data that Lusa had access to, in 2012 there were more than 10.000 candidates for the agent course, rising to just over 3.000 in 2023.

The EPP training director does not know what needs to be done to change this situation. “I honestly don’t know, because it has to be inherent to the person themselves. If people don't have the desire to be police officers and don't have that life expectancy, it will be difficult for us to capture their attention. I believe that people are probably not motivated to have a profession where discipline, rigor, missionary spirit and sacrifice prevail. Sometimes it’s not easy for a young person aged 18 or 20 to make up their mind, so it’s much easier to go to university”.

Elisa Borges admits that risk and working conditions have an influence on attractiveness, but highlights that within the PSP you can progress in your career and take courses that “can lead to earning some more money”.

“The police never made a good living and in my personal case, that wasn’t the most important part”, says the officer who has been with the PSP for 38 years.